1946 St. Louis Cardinals
Manager: Eddie Dyer
Regular season record: 98-58 (.628), first in National League
Post-season: Won World Series over Boston Red Sox (4-3)
Staff Comments (individual rankings in parens)
Ray Mileur (11) The 1946 Cardinals finished the season tied with the Brooklyn Dodgers, forcing in a three-game playoff series for the pennant. The Cardinals took two straight games against the Dodgers to clinch the title.
In the postseason the Cardinals won their 5th World Series title and the third one in just five years by defeating the Boston Red Sox in seven games. The seventh game was won on Enos Slaughter’s mad dash to home in the eighth inning that gave the Cardinals a 4-3 lead that would hold up in the ninth.
The forgotten hero was starting pitcher Harry Brecheen. Brecheen posted a .500 record (15-15) during the regular season, but allowed only one run in 20 innings pitched in the World Series winning three games for St. Louis. Stan Musial once again was the National League MVP, hitting .356 with 16 home runs and 103 RBI. The Cardinals had four starters in the All-Star Game, Stan Musial, Marty Marion, Whitey Kurowski and Red Schoendienst with Howie Pollet and Enos Slaughter also making the team.
Of the three championship teams of the ‘40’s, the 1946 club in my opinion ranks behind the ‘42 and ‘44 teams.
Jerry Modene (10) The 1946 Cardinals were a team that had to prove that the wartime pennants of 1942, 1943, and 1944 (and the close second-place finish in 1945) were no flukes now that the war was over and the players were back from the military, and prove it they did by ultimately winning a close race with the revitalized Dodgers (taking the league championship in the NL’s first-ever tiebreaker playoff).
They did it with a combination of returning stars (Musial hit .365 with 50 doubles) and young up-and-comers (Red Schoendienst took over at second base after having been Musial’s replacement in left field in his rookie season of 1945 – he even wore Stan’s #6! – and 20-year-old catcher Joe Garagiola, who hit just .237 but showed a lot of promise that was unfortunately derailed by his 1950 injury). The Cards also did it without manager Billy Southworth, who had defected to the Boston Braves after the 1945 season.
The 1946 Cards are most remembered, of course, for Enos Slaughter’s famous dash-for-home, scoring from first base on Harry Walker’s base hit to give the Cards the final lead over the Red Sox in Game 7, but how many remember that Slaughter led the Cards that season with his 18 home runs and 130 RBI? Remember, Musial’s power hadn’t blossomed yet; Stan had 16 home runs and 103 RBI but he wouldn’t become a great slugger until 1948, when he hit 39 homers.
Rob Rains (3) The war was finally over, and all of the players who had gone off to serve in the military were back. (The outfield of Slaughter, Moore and Musial pictured above.) That was good news indeed for the Cardinals, who welcomed back Stan Musial among others and produced one of the finest seasons in franchise history. It was a year that needed two extra games to decide the pennant after the Cardinals and Dodgers tied for first place, but the Cardinals won the two playoff games to win the crown and advance to play the Red Sox in the World Series.
The regular lineup reads like a who’s who of baseball stars, including Musial, Red Schoendienst, Marty Marion, Whitey Kurowski, Enos Slaughter, Harry Walker and Joe Garagiola. The pitching staff was just as talented, led by 21-game winner Howie Pollet, aided by Harry Brecheen and Murry Dickson. Brecheen saved his best pitching for the Series, winning three games with a 0.45 ERA, including two innings of relief in game seven on one day of rest.
That game is better remembered for one of the most famous plays in franchise history, when Slaughter’s mad dash from first base on Harry Walker’s hit allowed him to score the winning run in the eighth inning (below).
Brian Walton (7) Six all-time top 40 Cardinals were on rookie skipper Eddie Dyer’s (pictured) club: pitcher Harry Brecheen, infielders Red Schoendienst and Marty Marion, and outfielders Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter and Terry Moore.
Musial (.365/.434/587 – BA/OBP/SLG) earned his second NL Most Valuable Player award in four years. He led the league in seven offensive categories including runs and batting average. Musial’s 228 hits both paced the NL and rank sixth in all-time franchise single-season history. His league-leading 50 doubles made the top ten in a single St. Louis season and his NL-best 20 triples tied for fourth-best in team history.
Slaughter’s 130 RBIs led the NL. Howie Pollet’s 21 wins not only paced the league, but also tied the all-time franchise record for a left-hander. The end of the war also meant more fans. At the box office, the Cardinals topped one million in attendance for the very first time.
Key: NR = not ranked
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