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The Yankees captured their sixth American League pennant in seven years in 1942, finishing atop the junior circuit with a record of 103-51, nine games ahead of the second-place Boston Red Sox.  Although the Yankees led all of baseball with 801 runs scored, they hardly did justice to their acquired nickname of The Bronx Bombers.  New York hit a total of only 108 home runs – the team’s second-lowest total in 18 years.  Charlie Keller led the club with 26 homers, while Joe DiMaggio placed second with 21 round-trippers.  DiMaggio also led New York with 114 runs batted in and 123 runs scored.  Second baseman Joe Gordon earned league MVP honors by hitting 18 home runs, driving in 103 runs, and batting .322. 

The key to New York’s success over the course of the regular season actually lay in its pitching staff, which posted a league-leading 2.91 ERA.  Yankee pitchers allowed the opposition to score only 507 runs, which represented the lowest total surrendered by the team since 1919 – the last year of the Dead-ball Era.  Tiny Bonham headed New York’s starting rotation, finishing the regular season with a record of 21-5, a 2.27 ERA and a league-leading 22 complete games and six shutouts.  Spud Chandler finished 16-5 with a 2.38 ERA, rookie Hank Borowy went 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA, and 37-year-old Red Ruffing won 14 games, posted a 3.21 ERA, and completed 16 of his 24 starts.     

The Yankees subsequently found themselves in the somewhat unusual position of facing a team in the World Series with credentials equal to theirs.  Despite edging out the Brooklyn Dodgers for the National League pennant by only two games, the St. Louis Cardinals finished the campaign with an exceptional 106-48 record.  Hardly a power-laden ball club on offense, the Cardinals hit only 60 home runs during the regular season.  Nevertheless, they led the senior circuit with 755 runs scored.  More importantly, St. Louis surrendered only 480 runs to the opposition, compiling in the process a league-leading 2.55 team ERA.  N.L. MVP Mort Cooper led all league hurlers with a record of 22-7, a 1.78 ERA, and 10 shutouts.  He was ably assisted by 24-year-old rookie Johnny Beazley, who placed second to his teammate with 21 victories and a 2.13 ERA.  With such an outstanding pitching staff, the Cardinals entered the Fall Classic confident in their ability to compete on even terms with their American League counterparts.

The Yankees tested the Cardinals’ mettle in Game One, taking a 7-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, before St. Louis finally pushed across four meaningless runs against Red Ruffing to make the final score a more respectable 7-4. 

However, the Cardinals bounced back in Game Two, building a 3-0 lead against Tiny Bonham over the course of the first seven innings, before the Yankees tied the score with three runs in the top of the eighth against Johnny Beazley.  The big blow for New York was a game-tying two-run homer by Charlie Keller.  Continuing to show their resolve, though, St. Louis recaptured the lead in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single by rookie outfielder Stan Musial.  Beazley made the run stand up, keeping the Yankees off the scoreboard in the ninth inning with the help of a strong throw from right-fielder Enos Slaughter, who stifled a New York rally by throwing out a runner at third base.  The Cardinals’ 4-3 victory evened the Series at one game apiece.

Game Three evolved into a pitchers’ duel between New York starter Spud Chandler and St. Louis’ Ernie White.  Chandler allowed the Cardinals only one run over eight innings.  White was even better, shutting out the Yankees on just six hits, en route to giving St. Louis a 2-1 Series lead with a 2-0 victory.

Game Four developed into a see-saw affair, with the Cardinals erasing an early 1-0 deficit by scoring six times in the top of the fourth inning against Yankee starter Hank Borowy.  New York tied the score two innings later, with Keller’s three-run homer serving as the big blow of the five-run rally.  However, the Cardinals subsequently scored three more runs against the Yankee bullpen, thereby taking a commanding 3-1 Series lead with a 9-6 victory.

Solo home runs by Phil Rizzuto and Enos Slaughter knotted Game Five at 1-1 early on.  Each team scored once more, before St. Louis third baseman Whitey Kurowski hit a two-run homer against Red Ruffing in the top of the ninth inning to send the Yankees down to defeat.  The 4-2 St. Louis win ended the Series in just five games, handing the Yankees their first loss in World Series play after eight straight successful appearances in the Fall Classic. 

By Bob_Cohen
 

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Tagged:
1942 World Series, Charlie Keller, Enos Slaughter, Ernie White, Hank Borowy, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Johnny Beazley, Mort Cooper, New York Yankees, Phil Rizzuto, Red Ruffing, Spud Chandler, St. Louis Cardinals, Stan Musial, Tiny Bonham, Whitey Kurowski

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