1942 World Series
In 1942, it was business as usual for the perennial champion New York Yankees. "Joe D" and the rest of the second generation "Bronx Bombers" lit up the American League on their way to their thirteenth pennant. On the National League side it was the up-and-coming St. Louis Cardinals who were making a name for themselves as a worthy opponent. Manager Billy Southworth's Redbirds had proved conclusively during the 1942 season that they had what it took to win championships. Trailing the National League-leading Dodgers by ten games on August 5, they rallied down the stretch (winning forty-three of their last fifty-one games) to finish with a two-game margin over New York.
Yankee veteran Red Ruffing stole the show in the Series opener while not allowing a single hit until he had two down in the eighth. Centerfielder, Terry Moore managed a weak single, but it mattered little as the Cardinals problems were just as bad on both sides of the ball. The Yankees were holding down a 7-0 lead with no errors while St. Louis was desperately trying to send a man home and had four. Then it happened... just as they had to win the National League pennant late in the season, the Redbirds rallied again. First, Stan Musial, the Cardinals' left fielder, fouled out to open the ninth. Catcher Walker Cooper followed with a single, but first baseman Johnny Hopp flied out. The next batter, pinch-hitter Ray Sanders, walked. Then, the Cardinals lashed five consecutive hits that produced four runs. That brought Musial back to the plate with the bases loaded. Lucky for St. Louis, Spud Chandler was on the mound and the closer forced Musial into a game-ending grounder to first base. Despite falling one run short of another miraculous comeback, the Cardinals had clearly shaken their World Series jitters, and showed the Yankees that they were indeed, a worthy contender.
Game 2 featured Cardinal Newcomer Beazley, who posted a 2.13 ERA on his way to 21 victories during the regular season. Beazley held onto a 3-0 lead going into the eighth inning, but gave up a run-scoring single to Joe DiMaggio and a two-run homer to Charlie Keller. Now with the game tied, it was the Yankees turn. Unfortunately for St. Louis, their rally would fall short thanks to Enos Slaughter's double and Musial's single in the bottom of the eighth. Slaughter ended the game with a clutch throw from right-field that nailed pinch-runner Tuck Stainback at third base in the ninth. In the end, the Cards had evened the Series with a 4-3 triumph and they were just getting started. Things continued to go St. Louis' way as Ernie White dominated Game 3 by shutting out the Yankees on six-hits for the 2-0 victory. It was total team effort though as the lefthander was supported by the great fielding skills that had won one-hundred six regular-season games for the Cards: Moore made a great catch in the 6th and Musial and Slaughter both made clutch "homer-saving" catches in the seventh.
Mort Cooper, who won twenty-two games, threw ten shutouts and posted an ERA of 1.78, returned against Hank Borowy the next day. Unfortunately nothing had changed for the Game 1 loser and he lasted only 5 1/3 innings as he was victimized by St. Louis's five-run sixth. His rival, Borowy only lasted into the fourth, an inning in which St. Louis got two-run singles from Whitey Kurowski and their struggling pitcher and tallied six runs in all. In the seventh, Walker Cooper (Mort's brother) knocked a timely RBI single and snapped the 6-6 tie. Marty Marion added a run-scoring fly and reliever Max Lanier not only proceeded to pitch shutout ball the rest of the way, he also singled home an insurance run in the ninth. Once again the Cardinals had found the resolve and held on for the 9-6 victory.
Game 1 winner, Red Ruffing, returned for Game 5 against the youngster Beazley. Phil Rizzuto, (who had hit a total of seven home runs in his first two big-league seasons with the Yankees), launched a Beazley fastball into the left-field stands in the first inning. St. Louis tied it in the fourth when Slaughter matched Rizzuto with his own homer to right, but St. Louis slipped back into the lead in the bottom of the inning on DiMaggio's run-scoring single. The resilient Redbirds forged another deadlock in the sixth when Walker Cooper's fly ball scored another and the teams went to the ninth tied 2-2. Then, like Rizzuto, another unlikely hero, Kurowski (who had gone three-for-fourteen at that point in the Series after batting .254 with nine home runs during the regular season in his first extended big-league play) stepped up to the plate and delivered with a game (and-Series) winning homer into the left-field stands. The surprise Cardinals had dethroned the mighty Yankees and taken the World title back for the National League. The devastating loss was the first since 1926 for the Yankees, who had won in all eight of their appearances in the Fall Classic.