The 1942 World Series was the fortieth year overall (and thirty-ninth played) of the modern World Series, which began in 1903. Although most people forget the war series, and with good reason, actually, they were still played. This would prove to be the only World Series loss in the fantastic career of Joe DiMaggio.
1942 World Series
St. Louis Cardinals (NL) over New York Yankees (AL), 4-1
Managers: Billy Southworth (St. Louis); Joe McCarthy (New York)
Hall of Famers
St. Louis: Branch Rickey (executive), Billy Southworth (manager), Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter.
New York: Ed Barrow (executive), Joe McCarthy (manager), Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Phil Rizzuto, Red Ruffing
Umpires: Cal Hubbard
You could call this an upset by the Cardinals, based on the talent that the Yankees had, and the fact that they had won 103 games. But the Cardinals were even better – 106-48, winning a dramatic pennant race with the Brooklyn Dodgers. They were led by a young Stan Musial – “The Man” – and the Cooper brothers, Mort and Walker, who provided the Cardinals with a great battery (pitcher and catcher combination, for those who don’t know). Despite the fact that America was now in the midst of the Second World War, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt insisted that the game continue. So, the Series would continue. Still, there wasn’t much that was memorable about this Series.
In Game 1, Red Ruffing took the ball for New York. He was brilliant, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning. But with two out in that inning, Terry Moore singled to break it up. As it turned out, the game would be surprisingly close. The Yankees were leading 7-0 in the ninth, knocking out Harry Gumbert one inning earlier, aided by four Cardinals errors. Many thought it was over. But in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals had a rally in them. With two out and two on, Marty Marion got the Cardinals on the board with a two-run triple. Ken O’Dea pinch-hit for relief pitcher Max Lanier, and singled to score Marion. Frank “Creepy” Crespi came in to pinch-run for O’Dea, and after three more singles, the Cardinals were at 7-4, with the bases loaded and Stan Musial at the plate representing the winning run. But having knocked out Red Ruffing, relief pitcher Spurgeon “Spud” Chandler got Stan the Man to ground out. The Yankees had drawn first blood, but as it turned out, the Cardinals rally was no fluke.
In Game 2, St. Louis sent Johnny Beazley to the mound, facing Tiny Bonham. The Cardinals got on the board first in the first, when Walker Cooper hit a two-run double. In the bottom of the seventh, Whitey Kurowski tripled in a run. It was 3-0 St.Louis when the Yankees rallied in the eighth. DiMaggio singled and Charlie Keller tied the game with a two-run home run. The Cardinals put it behind them, though, and with fellow Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter on third, Stan Musial drove in the go-ahead run. Slaughter would play the hero in the field in the top of the ninth. After Bill Dickey singled, Buddy Hassett followed with a single. But as pinch-runner Tuck Stainback went to third, Slaughter made a terrific throw from right field, cutting down Stainback at third. The tying run was still on, and it would prove crucial, as Red Ruffing flied to Slaughter. It would have likely been a game-tying sacrifice fly were it not for Slaughter’s heroics. Phil Rizzuto grounded out and the Cardinals had tied the Series 1-1.
Ernie White was magnificent for the Cardinals in Game 3, pitching a complete game, 2-0 shutout. Chandler went eight innings of his own, allowing only a run on a third inning groundout. The Cardinals scratched out an insurance run in the top of the ninth; after an error put runners on second and third with none out, Slaughter singled in an unearned run. In the bottom of the ninth, Joe DiMaggio singled to put the tying run at the plate with one out. But White was equal to the challenge, retiring Joe Gordon and Charlie Keller to give the Cardinals a 2-1 Series lead.
For all of his success, Mort Cooper wouldn’t win a game in the ’42 Fall Classic. After the Yankees scored in the first, the Cardinals erupted in the fourth, knocking out Hank Borowy. The Cardinals batted around, scoring six times, with Kurowski, Mort Cooper, Moore, and Musial driving in runs. Had Walker Cooper come through, it could have been more, because Slaughter was at third when the inning ended. This time, the Yankees rallied. Trailing 6-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees managed to tie the game. Cooper was relieved after giving up a home run to Charlie Keller, making it 6-5. The Yankees would tie it later in the inning when Jerry Priddy doubled in Joe Gordon, facing Harry Gumbert. After Howie Pollet took over on the mound, the Cardinals got out of the inning with no further damage, but just like that, it was 6-6 with three innings to play. The Cardinals scored twice in the seventh off of Atley Donald, when Walker Cooper singled and Stan Musial hit a sacrifice fly. The Cardinals got an insurance run in the ninth, and just like that, it was a 9-6 final score and a 3-1 Series lead for the Cardinals. McCarthy, DiMaggio, and company were one loss away from elimination.
Solo home runs had the score tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the fourth (Rizzuto for the Yankees, Slaughter for the Cardinals). DiMaggio drove in a run in the bottom of the fourth, but it would be the Yankees last run in the Series. A Walker Cooper sacrifice fly tied the score in the top of the sixth. Finally, the Cardinals broke through in the top of the ninth. With Walker Cooper on base, Whitey Kurowski hit a two-run, Series-winning homer. For all of the hype surrounding Mort Cooper, Johnny Beazley won 21 games of his own that year. The Yankees put the tying runs on base with nobody out. But Joe Gordon was inexplicably picked off second base, and Jerry Priddy popped up to Jimmy Brown at second base. It was up to George Selkirk. But Selkirk grounded out, again to Jimmy Brown. The Cardinals, shockingly, had beaten the mighty Yankees. It was their first Series loss since 1926, also against the Cardinals.
This was the only time that Joe DiMaggio lost the World Series, and the only time Joe McCarthy lost the World Series with the Yankees (he lost in 1929 with the Cubs).
In terms of record, the second-place team in the NL (Brooklyn Dodgers) finished a game ahead of the Yankees, at 104-50, one game better than the Yankees. Still, the Dodgers lost the pennant by two games.
Although Johnny Beazley won 21 games in the regular season and two more in the World Series, he would win only nine more the rest of his career, and finished with only ten more wins outside of that magnificent season.
Branch Rickey left soon after to take over the Brooklyn Dodgers, leading them to two pennants in his tenure.
Warren Spahn debuted for the Boston Braves. Then-Braves manager Casey Stengel sent him down to the minor leagues because he refused to hit Brooklyn’s Pee Wee Reese in the back. Spahn would enlist in the war, survive the Battle of the Bulge, and eventually go on to a Hall of Fame career.
The Cardinals had a great team, and I think by record, this is their best season ever, so it wasn’t that shocking that they won. Still, with the war going on, they’re one of the forgotten teams.
References and Sources
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders (Rob Neyer)
The Ultimate Book of Sports Lists (Andrew Postman, Larry Stone)