Golden Baseball Magazine
June 18, 2016
Quotation

"I hope Mantle plays a hundred and sixty-two games, and if he hits 60 homers and Maris hits 59, they’ll make me a helluva manager."

Ralph Houk, after replacing Casey Stengel as Yankees manager following the 1960 World Series. Maris would hit 61 HRs in 1961 and Mantle, 54.


Cardinals Clubhouse

Four Pennants in a Row - 1885

The Cardinals, then known as the Browns, started a run of excellence in the American Association.

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The Ultimate Game

1987: Cardinals @ Twins

The home team had won each of the first six games. Would that trend continue?

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Fantastic Finish

National League - 1950

The race went down to a meeting of the 1st and 2nd-place teams on the last day.

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How Would You Rule?

In which situations does the pitcher receive credit for a Save?

Baseball Quiz

All-time Saves leaders

Ted's Frustrated
The Victory Season: The End of World War II and the Birth of Baseball's Golden Age,
Robert Weintraub (2013)
The Red Sox were having difficulty clinching the 1946 American League pen­nant. One of the reasons for their failure was that their main hitter was mired in a slump.
Boston had saved its worst for last. The celebratory champagne was being car­ried across half the American League, from Washington to Philly to De­troit to Cleveland, without being cracked open. There was no thought of an epic collapse (they still led the AL by fourteen games), but the wait at the precipice was get­ting on the nerves of everyone in Boston.
Williams was getting on people's nerves himself. Throughout his career, he would often wear down toward the end of the season due to illness. Even as a kid in San Diego, late-summer fevers plagued him, though he never did figure out why. Now he spent many a ball game in a fog, from either a head cold or the medication he took to treat it. "He practically had pneumonia, he was so sick," remembers Bobby Doerr. "He was real run down." "I'm tired physically," Williams admitted to the press late in the season. "I'm on the go all the time and I wish it were all over."
Meanwhile, his Triple Crown hopes had dissipated like a sneeze in the air. Once the leader in all three categories, he fell behind Mickey Vernon of the Sena­tors in the batting chase, and Hank Greenberg, Detroit's slugging star in the twilight of his fabled career, in home runs and RBIs.
Greenberg had suffered through a miserable 1946. He had been the first ma­jor league star to be called up for service, way back in 1940. He was honorably discharged on December 5, 1941. Two days later, he was back in the military, volunteering (the first major leaguer to do so after Pearl Har­bor) for the Army Air Corps. "We are in trouble," he told the Sporting News, "and there is only one thing for me to do - return to the service. This doubt­less means I am finished with baseball and it would be silly for me to say I do not leave it without a pang. But all of us are confronted with a terrible task - the defense of our country and the fight for our lives." ...
He came home in mid-'45 and proved he was far from "finished with base­ball." Greenberg walloped a homer "on a line as flat as old beer," in Red Smith's phrase, during his first game back, and hit a grand slam to clinch the pennant. Hebrew Hank then slugged a memorable three-run shot to win Game Two of the World Series, as the Tigers bested Chicago in seven.
But for most of the summer of '46, he was considered washed-up at age thirty-five, his 28 homers, 88 RBIs, and .268 batting average through Au­gust far be­low his standard numbers. Then a fellow Tiger, an even older one named Roger "Doc" Cramer, who at forty was fortunately still ex­tremely juvenile, slipped into the Sox clubhouse one afternoon at Fenway and stole one of Ted's bats. Cramer presented it to Greenberg, and Hank duly, in his words, "em­barked on his annual fall salary drive" with the new lumber. He smashed a dozen homers in three weeks with Splinter's splin­ter, until it shattered one day. Undaunted, Hank hit 5 more with his own previously uninspiring ash, to give him 16 for the month of September and 44 in all, good for best in the league. His 39 RBIs during the exceptional month gave him that title as well. Grantland Rice opined, "Greenberg's surge is one of baseball's greatest achievements." When the season end­ed, he gave Williams a fresh bat as a thank-you.


L: Mickey Vernon; R: Hank Greenberg presents a bat to Ted Williams after 1946 season.
Ted wasn't too happy about the whole thing. He suspected, as did some others, that Greenberg and Vernon were getting grooved pitches in an effort to deny Williams the Triple Crown. As Austin Lake wrote, "Rival athletes gradually grew sour at Ted for his aloof swagger and chill hauteur toward his fellow crafts­men." Pitchers, in the Williams worldview, were dubious characters who lacked morals. He could easily envision some of those snakes not coming high and hard at the popular Greenie so they could stick it to The Kid.

The Sox soon clinched the pennant. Ted did not lead the AL in any of the Triple Crown categories but was overwhelmingly voted MVP.