Cardinals Clubhouse
Cardinals Post-Season Play - 1944
With the United States fully engaged in World War II, talent was at a low ebb in the major leagues. The players were largely those considered physically unable to serve in the military (4-F), those who were too old or too young, and those who had families to support.

The Cardinals of Manager Billy Southworth were one of the most fortunate teams in the majors. Six of their starting eight position players from the 1943 National League champions returned.

  • The only replacements were Emil Verban for Lou Klein at second base and Johnny Hopp for Harry Walker in the outfield.
  • The top two starting pitchers from '43 also returned: righthander Mort Cooper and southpaw Max Lanier. Another lefty, Harry Brecheen, moved from the bullpen to the starting the rotation.
  • The Redbirds won their first five games of the season and nine of their first 11. They seized first place in the National League April 27 and never relinquished it the rest of the season to win their third pennant in a row.
  • Their final first-place margin was 14.5 games over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Read about the '44 Cardinals' season ...

L-R: Whitey Kurowski, Marty Marion, Stan Musial, Ray Sanders
The American League race provided the drama that the Senior Circuit did not.
  • The two-time defending champion Yankees did not enjoy the continuity that benefitted the Cardinals.
  • Only two of the eight starters returned from '43.
That opened up the pennant race to the Detroit Tigers and the unlikeliest of contenders: the St. Louis Browns.
  • The Browns were a charter member of the American League in 1903. Since that time, they had never won the pennant.
  • They had not finished within 15 games of first place in 22 years.

The Browns started the season even more remarkably than their fellow Sportsman's Park inhabitants from the National League.

  • Manager Luke Sewell's collection of castoffs and 4Fers flabbergasted the baseball world by setting an AL record with victories in their first nine games, starting with a three-game sweep in Detroit.
  • They stayed on top until May 14, then alternated between second and third until May 31 when they returned to first place, leading by as much as seven games in August.
  • The resurgent Yankees nosed ahead by a half game September 4 with the Browns, Tigers, and Red Sox all within three games of the lead.
  • The Browns won 14 of their last 20 games, including a four-game sweep of the Yanks in the season-ending Series in St. Louis to edge Detroit by one game and create the all-Mound City World Series.

Despite their season-ending hot streak, the Browns were prohibitive underdogs to the mighty Cardinals. Imagine the astonishment of the baseball world when the American League upstarts won two of the first three World Series games.

Game One: Sportsman's Park
Attendance: 33,242 Time of Game: 2:05
Browns 2 Cardinals 1
WP: Denny Galehouse; LP: Mort Cooper

  • The Cards banged out seven hits to just two for the Browns. But the two safeties came back to back in the fourth inning: a single by RF Gene Moore and a homer by 1B George McQuinn that barely reached the roof of the right field pavilion.
  • Meanwhile, the Redbirds left nine men on base and couldn't scratch until the bottom of the ninth when SS Marty Marion doubled to center field, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on Ken O'Dea's fly out.
1944 World Series, Game One
1944 World Series, Game One 
Game Two: Sportsman's Park
Attendance: 35,076 Time of Game: 2:32
Cardinals 3 Browns 2
WP: Blix Donnelly; LP: Bob Muncrief
  • In the third, Cardinals 2B Emil Verban led off with a single to left field. P Max Lanier bunted. P Nelson Potter was given two errors on the same play for bobbling the ball, then throwing wild to first base to send Verban to third base and Lanier to second. Verban then scored on LF Augie Bergamo's groundout.
  • The Cards doubled their lead the next inning when 1B Ray Sanders walked with one out and went to second on 3B Whitey Kurowski's single. Marion hit a grounder to third base that should have started an inning-ending double play, but Mark Christman booted the ball to load the bases. Verban then drove home Sanders with a fly to left field.
  • After getting just one hit in the first six innings, the Browns broke out. Gene Moore singled, and C Ray Hayworth doubled off the left field wall to end the shutout. Then Frank Mancuso, pinch-hit for P Nelson Potter and singled to center, scoring Hayworth to tie the game.
  • The score remained tied until the bottom of the 11th. Sanders singled off Bob Muncrief, pitching into his fifth inning of scoreless relief. Ray went to second on Kurowski's sacrifice. After Marion was intentionally passed, pinch hitter Ken O'Dea singled to right field to tie the Series.
Game Three: Sportsman's Park
Attendance: 34,737 Time of Game: 2:19
Browns 6 Cardinals 2
WP: Jack Kramer; LP: Ted Wilks
  • The Cards jumped on top in the 1st with their third unearned run of the Series. With one out, CF Johnny Hopp went all the way to second when his grounder went through SS Gene Stephens' legs. After Musial popped out, C Walker Cooper singled, chasing home Hopp.
  • The roof caved in on Cards' starter Ted Wilks with two out in the third. Five straight singles plated three runs, and a fourth scored on a wild pitch.
  • The Browns' defense helped the Redbirds get a run in the 7th. After Sanders singled, Stephens snared Kurowski's grounder and tossed to 2B Don Gutteridge for one out, but a wild throw to first sent Whitey to second. Marion promptly singled him home.
  • The Browns tallied two insurance runs in the bottom of the inning to take a shocking 2-1 lead in the Series.

Game Four: Sportsman's Park
Attendance: 35,455
Time of Game: 2:22
Cardinals 5 Browns 1
WP: Harry Brecheen; LP: Sig Jakucki

  • The Redbirds scored two in the first on Musial's two-run homer and two more in the third on three singles and a throwing error by Gutteridge.
  • Brecheen wasn't sharp, surrendering nine hits and walking four, but, aided by some excellent fielding, he stranded 10 Browns for a 5-1 victory.
1944 World Series action
Ray Sanders takes throw to complete double play on Al Zarilla.

Game Five: Sportsman's Park
Attendance: 36,568
Time of Game: 2:04
Cardinals 2 Browns 0
WP: Mort Cooper; LP: Denny Galehouse

  • For the pivotal game, the managers reverted to their starters from Game One.
  • Galehouse pitched well again, striking out ten and limiting the Cards to just six hits. But they made the most of them.
  • Sanders smacked a homer in the 6th to break the scoreless tie, and Dany Litwhiler clouted another in the 8th to add an insurance run.
  • Cooper shut out the Browns on five hits and fanned twelve.

Game Six: Sportsman's Park
Attendance: 31,630
Time of Game: 2:06
Cardinals 3 Browns 1
WP: Max Lanier; LP: Nelson Potter

  • Chet Laabs tripled in the 2nd and scored on McQuinn's single to give the Browns a 1-0 lead.
  • The fateful inning was the bottom of the 4th. With one out, C Walker Cooper drew a base on balls. Sanders singled to center, sending Cooper to third. Kurowski hit a double play grounder to SS Vern Stephens who fumbled the ball for a moment, enough to throw off the timing, so that Don Gutteridge was just past second when he took Vern's throw. The relay to first was late. So instead of the side being retired, Cooper scored, and Cardinals roosted on first and second. After Marion fouled out, Verban's single to left field drove home Ray and sent Whitey to third. Lanier helped his own cause with a single through shortstop, scoring Kurowski. Bob Muncrief relieved and put out the fire.
  • In the sixth, Lanier walked two and uncorked a wild pitch to advance the runners. With the tying run on second, Southworth brought in Ted Wilks who got out of that jam and retired all eleven batters he faced to seal the 3-1 triumph and the Series victory for the Cardinals.

Kurowski and Walker Cooper rush to congratulate Ted Wilks
after final out of 1944 World Series.
Emil Verban 1944 Cardinals

Johnny Hopp

Mort Cooper

Cardinals P Max Lanier
Max Lanier

Cardinals P Harry Brecheen
Harry Brecheen

Luke Sewell

Browns 1B George McQuinn 1944
George McQuinn

Ken O'Dea

Cardinals P Blix Donnelly 1944
Blix Donnelly

Browns P Nelson Potter
Nelson Potter

Walker Cooper

Danny Litwhiler

Browns OF Chet Laabs
Chet Laabs

1944 Browns SS Vern Stephens
Vern Stephens

Southworth hugs his Game 6 pitchers, Lanier and Wilks