by Matthew Taylor
It’s fitting that the Judy Garland musical “Meet Me in St. Louis” was made in 1944 because in October of that year the two best teams in baseball did just that. The St. Louis Browns faced off with the St. Louis Cardinals in the last World Series to date to be played entirely in one stadium – Sportsman’s Park.
This week’s Flashback Friday revisits the first appearance in modern baseball history by a team associated with the Orioles’ franchise, the 1944 World Series in St. Louis. The Gateway Arch wouldn’t be designed for three more years, the Browns’ Pete Gray – who played with only one arm – had yet to make it to the majors, many of professional baseball’s best players were off at war, and the clean-up spot in the Cardinals’ and the Browns’ lineup was anchored by a catcher (Walker Cooper) and a shortstop (Vern Stephens), respectively.
The Cardinals defeated the Browns in the ’44 World Series, four games to two, after first falling into a two-games-to-one hole. Only three home runs were hit in the series, two by the Cardinals (Stan Musial and Danny Litwhiler) and one by the Browns (George McQuinn). Denny Galehouse pitched two complete games for the Browns – striking out 15, walking 5, giving up 13 hits and 3 runs – but picked up only one win. He lost Game 5 to Morton Cecil Cooper, who tossed a complete game shutout with 12 K’s against only two walks. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Oct. 10, 1944, tells the story:
“Superior hitting, pitching and defense by marvelous Marty Marion swept the St. Louis Cardinals, eight times champions of the National League, into their fifth World Series title.
This was convincingly shown today in the statistics of the six-game series as the 1944 baseball classic passed into history, leaving half of St. Louis happy, the other half sad.”
Somehow I think the nickname “Marvelous” went better with Marty Marion than it ever would with former Oriole Marty Cordova. Then again, Marion batted only .227 in the 1944 World Series with two more hits (5) than strikeouts (3).
It’s all part of the Orioles’ story as at least one professional sports team formerly known as the Browns has a history that belongs to Baltimore.
[Image source: Cardinalshistory.com. Click photo for original.]