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1946 World Series

After the regular season ended on September 29, the Red Sox had time to kill.  They’d clinched almost two weeks earlier and had perhaps lost a little of their edge. There was a “best-of-three” playoff for the pennant in the National League between the Cardinals and the Dodgers to determine which team would win the pennant. The Red Sox decided a good way to try and stay sharp was to bring in some of the best American League players, even including Joe DiMaggio, to play two or three exhibition “tune-up” games against the Red Sox. Unfortunately, Ted Williams was hit by a pitch on his right elbow and badly hurt; the swelling reportedly was so pronounced it was double its regular size. Williams played throughout the Series, but had never returned to normal and it cost. He was so subpar that he even resorted to bunting once, just to get on base.

The Cardinals won the first two games of the N. L. playoff, and hosted the Red Sox at Sportsman’s Park for Game One. Each team brought five world championships to the battle, but the Cards had won all of their five since the Red Sox had last won – and the Cards had recently won both in 1942 and 1944.

Boston scored once in top of the second on a hit by pitch, a base on balls, and a Pinky Higgins single off St. Louis ace starter Howie Pollet (his 2.10 ERA led the N.L., as did the 21 wins; he was 21-10). In the sixth and the eighth, St. Louis scored single runs off Tex Hughson (20-11, 2.75), on doubles by Stan Musial and Joe Garagiola, respectively. The Red Sox were down to their final at-bats in the ninth. There were two singles and two outs, when right-fielder Tom McBride singled in the tying run. In the top of the 10th, Rudy York hit a two-out solo home run and reliever Earl Johnson got the win with his second inning of no-hit pitching.

The Red Sox were the favorites, with their 104-50 regular season, and now they’d won the first game with tough clutch hitting – but they couldn’t hardly hit at all in Game Two. Harry Brecheen held them to four hits in four different innings – and he shut them out, 3-0, while driving in the winning run himself with a single in the bottom of the third. Mickey Harris took the loss. Brecheen had been 15-15 in the regular season, but with a very good 2.49 earned run average.

Boo Ferriss (25-6 in the regular season) whitewashed the Cards at Fenway in Game Three, given some breathing room in the first inning when Johnny Pesky singled, took second on a groundout, and then Murry Dickson intentionally walked Ted Williams. Rudy York hit a three-run homer. York scored a fourth run in the bottom of the eighth after he’d singled, Doerr had doubled, and an error by Schoendienst let him reach home.

Tex Hughson definitely didn’t have it in Game Four, giving up six runs in two-plus innings before he was replaced by Jim Bagby Jr. In all, the Red Sox called on five relievers and four of them gave up a run; the final was 12-3, St. Louis, thanks to an excellent performance by St. Louis pitcher Red Munger. He’d only started seven games during the season and was a nondescript 2-2. But now he had a World Series win to his credit, and the Series was tied at two games apiece. Bobby Doerr’s two-run homer was the only real highlight for the Boston team. Whitey Kurowski and Marty Marion each drove in three for the Cardinals.

Alternating wins and losses, the Red Sox won Game Five at Fenway, 6-3. Pollet started but was pulled in favor of Al Brazle after just one-third of an inning. Joe Dobson allowed St. Louis just four hits and three unearned runs. The Red Sox scored first and never trailed, despite three errors. Ted Williams drove in the first run with a single in the first inning; it was his only RBI of the World Series.

Another Harry Brecheen/Mickey Harris matchup ended the same way as the first time, but this time the Red Sox managed one run. Harris gave up five hits and three runs in the bottom of the third before being taken out of the game. Another Cardinals run in the eighth led to a 4-1 final.

Game Seven pitted Boo Ferriss against Murry Dickson. The Red Sox scored first, when two singles and Dom DiMaggio’s sacrifice fly brought in Wally Moses from third base. A sacrifice liner to left field tied it for the Cardinals in the second, and they took a 3-1 lead with Dickson himself doubling in Harry Walker, then scoring on Schoendienst’s single.  There is stood until the top of the eighth. A single and a double had Red Sox baserunners on second and third with nobody out – and Cards manager Eddie Dyer brought in Harry Brecheen again. He got the first two outs without a run scoring, but then blew the save when Dom DiMaggio doubled. But DiMaggio sprained his ankle reaching second base and had to be replaced by Leon Culberson to pinch-run and take his place in centerfield, after Ted Williams popped up to second base.

In the bottom of the eighth, Sox manager Joe Cronin asked Bob Klinger to hold the Cardinals. He gave up a single to Enos Slaughter, but then got the next two batters. Then Harry Walker hit a looping ball to left-center field, a fairly routine single – which Culberson played as such. At worst, it should have been first and third, but Slaughter had started running at top speed even before the pitch left Klinger’s hand and he ran right through the stop sign at third base, and scored on what was called his “mad dash”. Culberson’s lob into Johnny Pesky left the Sox shortstop with no chance of getting Slaughter.

Brecheen gave up singles to York and Doerr, and the Red Sox had go-ahead runners on base with nobody out in the top of the ninth, but Higgins grounded out into a force play at second, and Partee fouled out to first base. Pinch-hitter Tom McBride was Boston’s last hope. But he grounded out, and Brecheen collected his third win of the Series, lowering his ERA to 0.45. 

The next time St. Louis got into the Series was 1964, and they beat the Yankees for their seventh title. Red Sox fans had gone 28 long years without a World Series win. The wait was destined to last even longer – in part because the Cardinals beat them in 1967, too.

By Bill Nowlin
 

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1946 World Series, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals

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