1944 St. Louis Browns season

1944 St. Louis Browns
1944 American League Champions
Major League affiliations
Location
Results
Record 89–65 (.578)
League place 1st
Other information
Owner(s) Donald Lee Barnes
General manager(s) Bill DeWitt
Manager(s) Luke Sewell
Local radio WEW/WTMV
(Dizzy Dean, Johnny O'Hara)
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The 1944 St. Louis Browns season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Browns finishing first in the American League with a record of 89 wins and 65 losses. In the World Series, they lost to the team they shared a stadium with, the Cardinals, four games to two.

Offseason

Regular season

The Browns were one of the unlikeliest pennant-winners in history; in nine out of the previous 10 seasons, they had finished in the second division. However, 1944 was the peak of wartime baseball. The shortage of players dragged the talent level of the entire league down, which benefitted the team.

The 1944 Browns were relatively untouched by the military draft. Nine players on the roster were 34 years old or older. Their all-4F infield included 23-year-old shortstop Vern Stephens, who led the league in RBI (109) and was second in home runs (20).

St. Louis started the season with nine straight wins and continued to hang tough in a four-team race with Detroit, Boston, and New York. It came down to the final week, when the Browns defeated the Yankees five times, winning the pennant by 1 game over Detroit. It would be the only championship the franchise would ever win in St. Louis.

Season chronology

  • May 26, 1944: In a game against the Boston Red Sox, Nels Potter retired the first 23 batters and was on his way to pitching a perfect game when Jim Tabor got a hit in the 8th inning.[3]
  • June 15, 1944: Frank Demaree was released by the Browns.
  • July 20, 1944: Nels Potter took to the hill against Yankees' pitcher Hank Borowy. The Yankees third base coach Art Fletcher noticed that Potter was moistening his fingers. After Browns manager Luke Sewell consulted with Potter, Potter proceeded to make a deliberate motion with his fingers to his mouth. Umpire Cal Hubbard ejected Potter from the game. On July 22, American League President Will Harridge suspended Potter for 10 days for throwing an illegal pitch. Potter was the first pitcher to be suspended by Major League Baseball for that reason.[4]
  • Every team in the league hosted a game where net proceeds went toward the National War Relief and Service Inc. On July 26, the second game versus the Philadelphia Athletics was that game. Everyone had to pay their way into the stadium including team management, umpires and players.[5] The crowd of 24,631 was the greatest for a Browns home game since the team's first night game in 1940. Oscar Zahner, chairman of the benefit game committee, announced that $25,000 was raised.[5]
  • On August 3, the Browns played the minor league Kansas City Blues. The Browns lost the game by a score of 9–8.[6] The attendance was 5,965, which was Kansas City's best attendance all season. Despite losing, the Browns got 14 hits and Gene Moore went 4–5 with three runs batted in.[6]
  • August 8 marked the Browns 70th consecutive day in first place.[6] This broke the club's previous record of 69 days in first place, which was set in 1922.
  • The Browns beat the New York Yankees on August 12. It marked the first four-game series victory over the Yankees since 1940.[7]
  • Browns pitcher Nels Potter and Washington player George Case got into an altercation on August 22. The result was a bench clearing brawl and Potter, Case, and Washington player Ed Butka were ejected.[8]
  • On September 4, the Browns found themselves out of first place. The Browns slipped to a half game behind the New York Yankees with 22 games left.[9]
  • On October 1, the last day of the season, St. Louis clinched the pennant with a come-from-behind 5–2 victory over New York on two home runs by Chet Laabs and one by Vern Stephens.
  • The final series between the Browns and the Senators had its share of tension. In the first game of the series, Senators pitcher Roger Wolff hit Vern Stephens with a pitch. Browns manager Luke Sewell waved a bat in the direction of the pitcher.[10]
  • September 21 was the final game between the Browns and the Senators. Browns catcher Tom Turner engaged in a fist fight with Senators player Roberto Ortiz. The two players lined up in a boxing formation in the middle of the field.[11] Ortiz broke his hand and this was bad for the Browns as the Senators were finishing the season against the Detroit Tigers. At the time of the Browns-Senators game, the Tigers were in first place. The conflicts strained the friendship of Washington manager Ossie Bluege and Luke Sewell. The two were teamamates in Washington from 1933–34.
  • After the Browns farm team, the Toledo Mud Hens was eliminated from the American Association, the Browns called three players to bolster their team for their stretch run. The callups were Earl Jones (10–6 for the Mudhens), infielder Len Schulte (.296 batting average, 96 RBI's), and outfielder Babe Martin, the American Association Most Valuable Player.[12]
  • With six games left in the season, the Browns and Tigers had identical 84–64 records. The last six games of the season for the Browns were against the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

Opening Day lineup

Hal EppsCF
Don Gutteridge2B
George McQuinn1B
Vern StephensSS
Gene MooreRF
Milt ByrnesLF
Mark Christman3B
Frank MancusoC
Jack KramerP

Season standings

American League W L Pct. GB
St. Louis Browns8965.578--
Detroit Tigers8866.5711
New York Yankees8371.5396
Boston Red Sox7777.50012
Cleveland Indians7282.46817
Philadelphia Athletics7282.46817
Chicago White Sox7183.46118
Washington Senators6490.41625

Record vs. opponents

1944 American League Records

Sources:
Team BOR CHW CLE DET NYY PHA SLB WSH
Boston 17–58–1410–12–211–1111–1110–1210–12
Chicago 5–1714–89–1310–129–138–1416–6
Cleveland 14–88–1410–128–1412–10–110–1210–12
Detroit 12–10–213–912–1014–811–119–1317–5
New York 11–1112–1014–88–1413–910–1215–7
Philadelphia 11–1113–910–12–111–119–139–139–13
St. Louis 12–1014–812–1013–912–1013–913–9
Washington 12–106–1612–105–177–1513–99–13

Roster

1944 St. Louis Browns
Roster
Pitchers Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Other batters

Manager

Coaches

Player stats

Batting

Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
CRed Hayworth8923960.223125
1BGeorge McQuinn146516129.2501172
2BDon Gutteridge148603148.245336
3BMark Christman148547148.271683
SSVern Stephens145559164.29320106
OFMilt Byrnes128407120.295445
OFMike Kreevich105402121.301544
OFGene Moore11039093.238658

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Al Zarilla10028886.299645
Frank Mancuso8824450.205124
Floyd Baker449717.17505
Chet Laabs6620147.234533
Mike Chartak357217.23617
Hal Epps226211.17703
Frank Demaree165113.25506
Ellis Clary254913.26504
Tom Turner15258.32004
Tom Hafey8145.35702
Joe Schultz382.25000
Babe Martin243.75000
Len Schulte100----00

Pitching

Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Denny Galehouse241539103.1280
Sig Jakucki351981393.5567
Jack Kramer3325717132.49124
Bob Muncrief33219.11383.0888
Nels Potter322321972.8391
Steve Sundra319201.421

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L SV ERA SO
Al Hollingsworth2692.25714.4722
Tex Shirley2380.15404.1535

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L SV ERA SO
George Caster428166122.4446
Sam Zoldak1838.20003.7215
Lefty West1124.10006.2911
Willis Hudlin120104.501

1944 World Series

NL St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. AL St. Louis Browns (2)

GameScoreDate
1Browns 2, Cardinals 1October 4
2Cardinals 3, Browns 2 (11 innings)October 5
3Browns 6, Cardinals 2October 6
4Cardinals 5, Browns 1October 7
5Cardinals 2, Browns 0October 8
6Cardinals 3, Browns 1October 9

Awards and honors

All-Star Game

League leaders

Team leaders

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AA Toledo Mud Hens American Association Ollie Marquardt
D Newark Moundsmen Ohio State League Clay Bryant

LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Newark[13]

References

  1. Sam Zoldak page at Baseball Reference
  2. Owen Friend page at Baseball Reference
  3. As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p. 49, David Alan Heller, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina, 2003, ISBN 0-7385-3199-5
  4. As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p. 65
  5. 1 2 As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p. 70
  6. 1 2 3 As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p. 78
  7. As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p. 79
  8. As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p. 83
  9. As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p. 89
  10. As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p. 95
  11. As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p. 96
  12. As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p.97
  13. Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 1997
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