With the United States’ involvement in World War II having depleted the rosters of most major league teams, the talent-rich St. Louis Cardinals had an easy time capturing their second straight National League pennant in 1943. Using their rich farm system to replace military-bound Enos Slaughter, Terry Moore, Johnny Beazley, and Howie Pollet with the likes of Lou Klein, Alpha Brazle, and Harry Brecheen, the Cardinals ran away with the N.L. flag, finishing the season 18 games ahead of the second-place Cincinnati Reds, with a record of 105-49.
Easily the senior circuit’s most well-balanced team over the course of the regular season, the Cardinals finished second in the National League with 679 runs scored and also posted a league-leading 2.57 team ERA. Reigning N.L. MVP Mort Cooper anchored the St. Louis pitching staff, tying for the league lead with 21 victories and also finishing among the leaders with a 2.30 ERA, 274 innings pitched, and 24 complete games. He received a considerable amount of help from Max Lanier, who posted 15 victories and led all National League hurlers with a 1.90 ERA.
Cooper’s younger brother and battery-mate, Walker, helped give the Cardinals one of the league’s top offenses. The younger Cooper earned a second-place finish in the MVP voting by batting .318 and driving in 81 runs. Winning the award for the first of three times was teammate Stan Musial, who, at age 22, led the National League with a .357 batting average, 220 hits, 20 triples, 48 doubles, 347 total bases, a .425 on-base percentage, and a .562 slugging percentage. He also knocked in a team-leading 81 runs and finished second in the league with 108 runs scored.
The New York Yankees gained a measure of revenge for the previous year’s World Series by defeating the Cardinals in five games in the 1943 Fall Classic. Mort Cooper gave the Cardinals their only victory in Game Two, despite mourning the loss of his father, who died earlier in the day.
Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:
• Chicago's Bill Nicholson led the National League with 29 home runs and 128 runs batted in. He also finished among the leaders with a .309 batting average, 95 runs scored, 188 hits, and a .531 slugging percentage, en route to earning a third-place finish in the league MVP voting.
• On May 2, Philadelphia’s Schoolboy Rowe became the first pitcher to hit a grand slam in each league.
• The Brooklyn Dodgers started the season with Branch Rickey as their GM, replacing Larry MacPhail, who entered the armed forces.
• Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned the Philadelphia Phillies’ new owner Bill Cox for life for betting on his own team.
• After leading the National League with 112 runs scored and 20 stolen bases, Arky Vaughan quit the Dodgers at the end of the 1943 campaign rather than continue to play under manager Leo Durocher.
• Pittsburgh’s Rip Sewell tied Mort Cooper for the league lead with 21 victories.
More From Around the Web
On July 26, 1987, Negro league star Ray Dandridge is honored ...
On July 26, 1987, the Hall of Fame expands by three members. ...
On July 26, 1978, Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds collec ...
- 1943 World Series, Al Brazle, Arky Vaughan, Bill Cox, Bill Nicholson, Branch Rickey, Enos Slaughter, Harry Brecheen, Howie Pollet, Johnny Beazley, Kenesaw Landis, Larry MacPhail, Leo Durocher, Lou Klein, Max Lanier, Mort Cooper, Rip Sewell, Schoolboy Rowe, St. Louis Cardinals, Stan Musial, Terry Moore, Walker Cooper