1944 – Streetcar Series; St. Louis Browns v. St. Louis Cardinals

Another Good Season

Harry Brecheen was the most consistent pitcher as he threw in 30 games and was 16-5 with a 2.85 ERA. Marty Marion and Stan Musial (.347 batting average) led the offense for the season. The finish in first place with a record 105-49 and are off to the World Series.

World War II

Many of the game’s best players were called away for World War II, and the result was a seriously depleted pool of talent. The top team in the American League was the St. Louis Browns, who collectively batted .252 en route to their only pennant in 52 seasons. They only had one .300 hitter in outfielder Mike Kreevich (who barely made it at .301), one man with 20 home runs, shortstop Vern Stephens (who hit exactly 20), and one player over the 85 runs batted in mark, Stephens, who knocked in 109 to lead the league. On the mound, the Browns boasted Nels Potter and Jack Kramer, who combined for 36 victories. The team squeaked into first place by winning 11 out of their final 12 games, including the last four in a row over the defending champion New York Yankees. The last victory, combined with Detroit’s loss to Washington, enabled St. Louis to finish one game ahead of the Tigers in the American League. Their 89–65 record was the worst ever for an AL champion.

Marion League MVP

On the other side of Sportsman’s Park, the other Major League team from St. Louis was doing business as usual. In making off with their third straight National League pennant (leading by 14 12 games over Pittsburgh), manager Billy Southworth’s Cardinals had won 105 games and ran their three-year victory total to 316. The Cardinals were the first National League franchise with three consecutive 100 win seasons. The 1944 club featured league MVP Marty Marion and future Hall of Famer Stan Musial.

Streetcar Series

Led by Shortstop Marty Marion who wins the National League MVP the Cards win their third straight National League Championship with a 105-49 record. The Cardinals World Series opponent would be their Sportsmen’s Park landlord St. Louis Browns, who won their first and only American League Pennant. The series was dubbed the “Streetcar Series”, because of the mode of travel used to get to games. The Browns would take two of the first three games. However, stellar pitching by Harry Brecheen, turned the series around after Brecheen’s Game 4 performance Mort Cooper helped the Cards take a series lead, which set them up for the kill in Game 6, as Cardinals win their second World Series in three years. The two teams combined to strike out six-game Series-record 92 batters, 49 by Cardinal pitchers and 43 by Browns hurlers.

Game One was scoreless until the bottom of the 4th with Browns at bat when Moore singled with two outs and then McQuinn homered off of Cardinals starter Mort Cooper.

The Cardinals waited until the bottom of the ninth inning when Marty Marion led off with a double and was moved to third on an out by Bergamo. O’Dea oinch hit for Donnelly and lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Marion. That was all of the scoring in game one as the Browns were victorious 2-1 to lead the series.

The Cardinals came back in Game Two in the third inning on the help of an error by the Browns. The Cardinals scored in the fourth inning on a walk, single and an error and now led 2-0 in the game.

The Browns tied it up in the 7th on a single, double and single and we have a new ballgame. Now we head into extra innings and it is the bottom of the 11th inning when Sanders singles to lead off the inning followed by a deep sacrifice fly by Whitey Kurowski to move him to third base. Marty Marion is intentionally walked and O’Dea pinch hits for Verban and singles in the winning run. Cardinals win 3-2 and the series is all knotted up.

Game Three saw the Browns march back with a 6-2 win as they had a big 4th inning to pad the lead. This is their big scoring inning.

BROWNS 3RD: Gutteridge was called out on strikes; Kreevich flied
to center; Moore singled to right; Stephens singled to left
[Moore to second]; McQuinn singled to left [Moore scored,
Stephens to second]; Zarilla singled to left [Stephens scored,
McQuinn to second]; Christman singled to left [McQuinn scored,
Zarilla to third, Christman to second (on throw to 3b)]; SCHMIDT
REPLACED WILKS (PITCHING); Hayworth was walked intentionally;
Schmidt threw a wild pitch [Zarilla scored, Christman to third,
Hayworth to second]; Kramer grounded out (third to first); 4 R,
5 H, 0 E, 2 LOB.  Cardinals 1, Browns 4.

Game Four

With their backs to the wall again the Cardinals begin the comeback with a 5-1 win behind a double by Marion and Musial and a triple from W. Cooper. Now the series is tied.

Game Five

It was a big blow from first baseman Ray Sanders that guided the Cardinals to a 2-0 win. The pitching of Mort Cooper was outstanding as he allowed seven hits and fanned twelve in a 9-inning complete game. Now the Cardinals lead the Browns 3 games to 1.

Game Six

This could be elimination day. The Cardinals rap out 10 singles and no extra base hits to win the game and series with a 3-1 win. Max Lanier and Ted Wilks combined to limit the Browns to just three hits in the win and the Cardinals are World Champions !

Cardinals win the Streetcar Series.

Now the Cardinals have won in 1942 and 1944.