The St. Louis Cardinals won the 1946 World Series by beating the Boston Red Sox when Enos Slaughter scored on Harry Walker’s two-out double in the bottom of the eighth inning. It is rarely mentioned that the Cardinals trailed, three games to two when the teams returned to St. Louis.
Slaughter and Walker deserved all the accolades they received, but without the gutsy pitching of little left-hander Harry “The Cat” Brecheen, there would have been no St. Louis Cardinals’ World Championship.
Harry Brecheen had won the second game by shutting out the powerful Red Sox lineup that included Ted Williams (.342/.497/.667), Dom DiMaggio (.316/.393/.427) and Johnny Pesky (.335/.401/.427). Their on base averages indicate that the Red Sox could get on base and usually score. But not against Harry Brecheen.
The Red Sox led in the Series three different times. They won the Series opening game. The Cardinals tied them by winning the next game, but the Red Sox won Game 3.
The Cardinals won the fourth game to tie the Series at two game each. Then the Red Sox went ahead by winning the fifth game to put them themselves in the position of needing a split of the two games scheduled in St. Louis.
The sixth game was scoreless until the Cards scored a three-spot in the third inning. Brecheen extended his scoreless streak until Boston first baseman Rudy York tripled and scored on Bobby Doerr’s fly ball. They scored no more as the Cardinals tied the Series to set up the seventh game.
The Red Sox appeared ready to hit their way to the title in the first inning of Game 6 when Johnny Pesky followed Leon Culberson’s strikeout with a single to right field. Dom DiMaggio singled to left and then Brecheen walked Ted Williams to load the bases.
As Mel Allen told his listeners, Brecheen reached back for a little extra. The batter was the powerful Rudy York.
Brecheen got him to hit the ball on the ground to shortstop Whitey Kurowski, who threw to Red Schoendienst to force Williams for the second out. Schoedienst fired a strike to Stan Musial to retire the side without a run.
Knuckleballer Murray Dickson started the seventh game. He pitched seven solid innings but ran into trouble in the eighth.
The Cardinals held a 3-1 lead when pinch-hitter Glen Russell led off with a single to center. A second pinch-hitter, George “Catfish” Metkovich (yes, the Red Sox had a “Catfish” and the Cardinals had a “Cat”) doubled to left to put the potential tying runs in scoring position with no outs.
Manager Eddie Dyer brought in Brecheen on no day’s rest. Shades of Bob Brenly and Randy Johnson in 2001.
The “Cat” struck out left-handed hitting Wally Moses and got left-handed hitting Pesky on a line drive to right fielder Enos “Country” Slaughter (where have all the nicknames gone in the 21st century?). Russell remained at third.
Dom DiMaggio, who hit from the right side, was the hitter. He ripped a drive off the right-center field wall to tie the game. With the potential lead run on second base, Brecheen retired Williams on a pop fly to second.
The rest is well-known history. Slaughter scored in the eighth inning with what turned out to be the winning runs. Brecheen held Boston scoreless in the ninth. What is often forgotten is what happened in the Red Sox’ last at-bat.
York and Doerr opened the ninth with singles to put runners on first and second with no outs. Pinky Higgins, who once had 12 consecutive hits, bounced into a force play that moved Paul Campbell, running for York, to third.
The Red Sox had the potential tying run at third with one out. But they were the Boston Red Sox. Terry Francona wouldn’t be born for another 13 years.
Roy Partee was the batter. He fouled out to Musial. Pinch-hitter Tom McBride hit a ground ball to Red Schoendienst, who flipped the ball to Marty Marion. Brecheen had his third win of the 1946 World Series.
The Cardinals were the World Champions for the third time in five years.
By JOHN DREBINGER Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES Associated,Press Wirephotos. (1946, Oct 14). Cards down red sox, 4-1, force series to 7 games. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107685816?accountid=46260