Today’s Postseason Series From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is the 1946 World Series. The boys were just coming back from Europe in 1946 and one could argue that no team in the American League benefitted more than the Boston Red Sox. Besides the return of Ted Williams, the Sawx also got Dom DiMaggio back and they cruised to the American League pennant (their first since 1918), finishing 12 games ahead of the Tigers and were never closer than 10 games ahead after July 14. Along with Williams and Joe’s brother, the offense also featured Johnny Pesky and Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr. The pitching staff was solid, featuring Tex Hughson and Dave Ferriss – both 20-game winners – and knocked 80 runs off of the previous season’s total.
Over in the National League they needed a few extra days to decide the champion. The Dodgers and Cardinals entered the last weekend of the season deadlocked. The weekend didn’t resolve anything, so they needed a best-of-three playoff to decide the pennant. The Cardinals took the first game 4-2 in St. Louis, then took the second game in Brooklyn, 8-4, to claim the pennant. The Cardinals lineup consisted of Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, and Enos Slaughter. While the rotation wasn’t loaded with name players, they did lead the league in ERA.
Game 1 was in Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis and Boston took an early lead when Rudy York was hit by a pitch and Doerr walked, setting things up for Pinky Higgins’ single to score York. It remained 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth, when Schoendienst singled with one out and moved to second on a groundout. Musial then doubled to right to tie the game. Then in the bottom of the eighth there were two outs when Whitey Kurowski singled and Joe Garagiola doubled to centerfield, setting up some controversy. Garagiola was thrown out trying to get to third, moments before Kurowski could score. But the umpires decided to allow the run to score, ruling that Kurowski was interfered with by Higgins. Unfortunately for the Cardinals starter Howie Pollet couldn’t make it stand. Higgins had a one out single and was pinch run for. Pinch hitter Rip Russell then singled, putting men on the corners with one out. After another strikeout leadoff man Tom McBride singled to tie the game at two. The game went into the tenth, where Pollet looked like he would get through without a problem, but with two out York homered to left. Boston reliever Earl Johnson pitched around a leadoff error to get the Red Sox a 1-0 series lead.
Game 2’s scoring was started by the Cardinals in the third when Del Rice led off with a double and pitcher Harry Brecheen helped his own cause with a bloop single, giving the Cards and early 1-0 lead. Rice got things going again in the fifth, this time with a single. Reached third on a throwing error on Brecheen’s bunt attempt. One out later Terry Moore’s single drove home Rice, and Musial’s groundout scored Brecheen. That would be all the scoring went the distance, allowing four hits and three walks to go with four strikeouts in a complete game shutout to even the series at a game apiece.
Game 3 shifted the series to Fenway. The scoring happened quickly. Pesky hit a one out single and after DiMaggio grounded out, Ted Williams was intentionally walked. That backfired as Rudy York homered over the Green Monster, making it 3-0 Red Sox. Boston added an insurance run and Dave Ferris returned the favor with a complete game shutout of his own. Boston now had a 2-1 lead.
Game 4 started with a scoreless first, then the Cardinals lumber started to go to work. Slaughter homered to right leading off the second, then Kurowski followed that up with a double. After a flyout Harry Walker singled to score Kurowski. On a steal attempt Pesky’s error allowed Walker to move to third. A safety squeeze scored the third run of the inning. In the third Schoendienst singled and Moore reached on an error, leading to Stan the Man’s RBI double. They added another run and made the score 6-0. In the bottom of the fourth Williams’ one out single and York’s RBI double put the Red Sox on the board, but that was as close as the Sawx would get. The Cardinals added a run in the fifth and again in the seventh, and while Boston added a two-run homer from Doerr in the eighth, the Cardinals added four in the ninth for a 12-3 victory to even the series.
Game 5 the Red Sox got on the board in the first when Don Gutteridge and Pesky singled, then after a fielder’s choice Teddy Ballgame singled in the game’s first run. The lead did not last long, as Walker doubled in Garagiola in the top of the second. An RBI single by Gutteridge in the bottom half gave the Red Sox the lead right back. Lee Culberson extended the lead with a leadoff homer in the sixth. They added three more in the seventh, and starter Joe Dobson was able to hold off a late rally to complete the game for a 6-3 win and a 3-2 series lead heading back to St. Louis.
Game 6 was scoreless for the first two innings. Then in the bottom of the third Del Rice led off with a single and a sac bunt by pitcher Harry Brecheen failed, Schoendienst doubled. A Terry Moore sac fly scored the first run. Then Musial beat out an infield single. Then back-to-back singles by Kurowski and Slaughter plated two more and the Cardinals had an early 3-0 lead. The Red Sox were held scoreless until the top of the seventh. Rudy York led off with a blast to center that went off the wall just out of Moore’s reach, leading to a triple. Doerr hit a sac fly to left to get the Sox on the board, but that was it. The Cards added a run to make the final 4-1, setting up Game 7.
The Red Sox got started quickly when Wally Moses and Johnny Pesky led off the game with singles, putting men on the corners. Dom DiMaggio’s sac fly gave the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead. The lead lasted one inning when in the bottom of the second Kurowski doubled to lead off and moved to third on a groundout. Harry Walker’s line drive to left tied the game at 1-1. Then in the bottom of the fifth Walker singled and after a sac bunt (this happened 70 years ago and I’m still shaking my head) pitcher Murry Dickson doubled and Schoendienst singled to give the Cards a 3-1 lead. It remained that way until the eighth. Rip Russell pinch hit and singled to lead off the inning, the George Metkovich pinch hit and doubled. Brecheen was brought in to put out the fire. He struck out Moses on three pitches and then got Pesky to line out to right. Then DiMaggio lined a 3-1 pitch to the wall in right-center for a game tying double. He got Williams to pop out, keeping the game tied. In the bottom of the eighth Enos Slaughter led off with a single to center. After Kurowski popped up a bunt attempt (and don’t tell me it was a sound strategy; even if you want to go with the “at that time” B.S. he hit .296 with three doubles in the series, so let the guy swing) and Del Rice flied out it looked like reliever Bob Klinger was going to get around the leadoff single. But Harry Walker line drive into left-center with Slaughter on the run. Slaughter never stopped running, rounding third and scoring the go ahead run. Brecheen got into trouble in the ninth as York and Doerr led off with singles, but a fielder’s choice, pop foul out, and one more fielder’s choice and the Cardinals were World Champions for the third time in five years.
You may or may not have noticed that Ted Williams’ name wasn’t mentioned much in this post. That’s because Williams was considered a choker in this series. He was just 5-25 with five walks. It was his only postseason appearance. For some reason (most likely his not-so-kind disposition) this stuck with him. But Willie Mays hit only .247 with one homerun in his postseason career. David Ortiz had seven postseason series where hit under .250. Ty Cobb hit only .262 in 65 World Series at-bats with a .668 OPS. Derek Jeter had his failures (.148 in the 2001 World Series, for one). Reggie Jackson was benched in Game 5 of the 1977 ALCS because of his struggles. It always fascinates me how we try to limit our memories to just few instances here and there. Ultimately we remember Williams for everything else, but there are players that get looked at different because of a handful of events. While the moments should be remembered they probably shouldn’t be what labels them.