“Slaughter’s great gallop from first to score will rate with Paul Revere’s ride in the history of our country,” gushed sportswriter Whitney Martin about one of the most enduring plays in World Series lore.1 Enos “Country” Slaughter’s mad dash from first on Harry Walker’s eighth-inning smash to center field coupled with shortstop Johnny Pesky’s hesitation on the relay throw gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth in Game Seven of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox — a lead they would not relinquish. “[I]t was anybody’s contest,” suggested Redbird beat reporter J. Roy Stockton, “with thrill following thrill.”2
On a warm, sunny Tuesday afternoon, the sportsman’s park was packed with a “wildly delusional” crowd of 36,143 standing room only people, selwyn pepper wrote on the street. louis post-dispatch on the atmosphere for just the decisive seventh game in fall classic history.3 that mood quickly changed when cardinals starting pitcher murry dickson gave up a leadoff single to wally moses. Upset, he followed up with what appeared to be a routine ground ball, but the ball took a “weird jump,” according to Stockton, and bounced off shortstop Marty Marion’s glove. In a play that heralded the Cardinals’ fielding highlighting the entire game, center fielder Terry Moore made a run to rob Ted Williams of a potential extra-base hit. missed scoring opportunities proved costly for the Red Sox. Bobby Doerr led off the second with a single, moved to second on a throwing error by third baseman Whitey Kurowski, and reached third with one out but failed to score.
boston starter dave ferriss, who had won 25 games in the regular season and shutout in game 3 against dickson, seemed shaky from the start despite five days off. red schoendienst tried to stretch out his first single when williams fumbled into left field, but williams quickly recovered and took him out. Two batters later, Stan Musial doubled down the left field line but was stranded. The Redbirds tied the contest in the second when Kurowski led off with a double and then scored on Harry Walker’s fly ball.
despite his early game nervousness, dickson, a 15-game winner as a swingman in the regular season, found his rhythm and, with the help of his fielders, kept the red sox hitless from the third inning to the seventh (issuing only a sixth-inning walk to Dimaggio). Described by Pepper as the “Bleachers’ favorite scapegoat,” 5 Williams opened the fourth with another deep fly ball, but left fielder Harry Walker did what the St. Louis Star and Times called a catch “terrific” near the flagpole to again rob the “kid” of an extra-base hit. the series with just five hits (all singles) in 25 at-bats and one rbi.7
It was déjà vu in the fifth when Pinky Higgins led off with a shot to deep center. Moore ran at least 50 yards to make what Sharper called “the biggest catch of his notorious career,” a backhand stab running near the wall.8 Moore, once considered the best center fielder in the National League, discovered the fountain of youth despite missing the three years leading up to WWII. the 34-year-old suffered from swelling in his left knee and required what sportswriter w. Vernon Tietjen called Team Coach H.J.’s “special ‘dope’ ointment.” “Doc” Weaver before each game.9 After Moore’s gem, Kurowski atoned for his earlier mistake by running deep into dirty territory to snag Hal Wagner’s popup.
the red birds pummeled ferriss savagely in the fifth. Walker led off with a single and moved to second on Marion’s sacrifice bunt. Dickson, not far behind at the plate, doubled to score a walker and give the Cardinals a 2-1.10 lead After Schoendienst’s single drove in Dickson’s single, Moore’s single sent Ferriss into the showers as ” chaos reigned” at sportsman’s park. 11 right-hander joe dobson put out the fire by retiring musial with a groundout and, after an intentional walk to the slaughterhouse to fill the bags, rolling kurowski into a force play to end the threat.
The tension increased as neither the Red Sox nor the Cardinals had a hit in the sixth or seventh innings. Down 3-1 to start the eighth, Boston’s Rip Russell, a pinch hitter for Wagner (who was hitless in 13 at-bats in the series), singled. Cardinals first-year captain Eddie Dyer signaled Harry Brecheen and Red Munger to warm up quickly in the bullpen, while Red Sox manager Joe Cronin pinch-hit George Metkovich for Dobson. Metkovich’s double pushed Russell to third and spelled Dickson’s demise. To the mound came Brecheen, the slim-built, 5-foot-10, 160-pound southpaw whose quick movements earned him the nickname “the cat.” A 15-game winner with five shutouts, a league-best mark during the regular season, Brecheen had thrown a seven-hit complete game two days earlier to force game seven and blanked the Red Sox with four hits in game two.
brecheen retired moses and pesky, but then delivered his first hard ball of the series, dimaggio’s double off the wall in right field, out of reach of the jumping kill, to drive in two runs and tie the game. However, Dimaggio’s dramatic coup proved costly, as he tore a muscle in his leg and was replaced by Leon Culberson. After Williams’ foul point snapped catcher Joe Garagiola’s finger, forcing Del Rice to replace him, the Red Sox slugger jumped harmlessly to Schoendienst to end the inning.
The eighth inning is one of the most devious and questionable frames in Red Sox history. Right-handed reliever Bob Klinger took the mound and gave up a leadoff single to the Massacre, then retired Kurowski and Rice. Next up was Walker, described by Bob Broeg as a “regular season bust” after batting just .237.12. He dived from first base on a hit-and-run as Klinger made his delivery home. Walker hit a line drive to center field, where Culberson was playing deep. The kill had nearly reached third when Culberson threw an upset relief pitch into shallow center. J. Roy Stockton was sure the kill would meet “certain death” when third base coach Miguel “Mike” Gonzalez waved his hand at him. Jerry Nason of the Boston Globe.14 The Massacre slipped past the plate long before Pesky’s weak throw as Walker advanced to second.15 “I hesitated,” Pesky admitted after the game. “I thought he would hold on third so late in the game.” 16 after Klinger intentionally walked Marion, new reliever Earl Johnson retired Brecheen to end the threat.
The ninth inning turned out to be just as harrowing. Rudy York and Doerr led off with singles; Higgins grounded out forced Doerr into second. Needing only a long fly to tie the game, Roy Partee sent one of Brecheen’s slow balls to first for the second out. Tom McBride, pinch hitter for Johnson, hit what he most sharply called a “hard hit, hippety-do-hopper” for Schoendienst.17 “It was a wacky curveball,” Schoendienst said. He “hit me…on the right wrist…and wrapped around my forearm. then I put my arm on him… under the shoulder in time to catch the ball.” /p>
Sportswriters heaped praise on the Cardinals for their unlikely victory over the Red Sox, who had won 104 regular-season games. Nason described the Cardinals as a “fighting, grunting ball team”;19 while George C. Boston Traveler’s Carens thought the club “showed indomitable courage, opportunism and decisive shooting.” runs in seven games.21 brecheen became the first left-hander and ninth pitcher to win three games in a world series.22-to-20 favored the american league champions.”23 the difference in the game, according to stockton , was that the Cardinals took chances while the Red Sox “played extremely safe” late in the game.24
Boston’s notoriously harsh media were blunt in their criticism of the Red Sox. Globe’s Harold Kaese summed up the team’s staggering loss as a result of “inexperience in the World Series, winning the pennant too soon, and Williams’ slump.” by a pinch hitter against brecheen in the eighth with the game on the line and right-handed hitters on the bench; or why Klinger pitched in place of co-staff ace Tex Hughson, who had won 20 games and was in the bullpen. instead, he suggested that the cardinals won because of defending him, especially moore’s heroism.27
The game, whitney martin gushed, was “a chilling, raw, undiluted drama.”28
This article appears in “sportsman’s park in st. Louis: Home of the Browns and Cardinals at Grand and Dodier” (Sabr, 2017), edited by Gregory H. wolf. Click here to read more articles from this book online.
In addition to the sources cited in the footnotes, the author also accessed retrosheet.org, baseball-reference.com, sabr.org, and the sports news archive through a registration document.
1 Whitney Martin (Associated Press), “Slaughter Run Like Paul Revere’s Ride,” Boston Globe, Oct. 16, 1946: 19.
2 j. Roy Stockton, “The Slaughter Race To Certain Death Is A Winning Bet; brecheen and walker also epic ending heroes”, st. louis post-dispatch, Oct 16, 1946: 2b.
3 selwyn pepper, “fans rave wildly as home team wins series finale,” st. louis post-dispatch, October 15, 1946:1b.
4 j. roy stockton, “walker drives to slaughter in eighth to beat red six, 4-3,” st. louis post-dispatch, Oct 15, 1946: 1b.
6 sid keiner, “brecheen is team hero in dramatic 4-3 win; decisive race for the slaughter”, st. louis star and times, October 16, 1945: 20.
7 hy hurwitz, “ted just sits and stares for half an hour after the game”, boston globe, 16 Oct 1946: 1.
8 sid sharper, “moore and walker race to distant sectors to stop red sox drives”, st. louis star and times, october 15, 1946: 2.
9 w. Vernon Tietjen, “Go ahead, folks, and pick your hero of the series: The Cardinals have ’em by the dozen,” St. louis star and times, October 16, 1946: 20.
10 Dickson batted .277 (18-for-65) with six extra-base hits in the regular season.
12 Walker had been an all-star in 1943, hitting .294 in his last full season before missing the next two seasons during the war. bob broeg, “eight records set, 10 tied in heats”, st. louis post-dispatch, october 16, 1946: 4n.
13 stockton, “the slaughter race to certain death is a winning bet; brecheen and walker are also epic ending heroes.”
14 Jerry Nason, “Slaughter, Brecheen Give Cards Series Finale”, Boston Globe, Oct 16, 1946: 1.
15 a video of this exciting work can be seen on you tube. youtube.com/watch?v=t7igte593oa.
16 harold kaese, “why did the sox lose? inexperience series, soft pennant race, williams’ slump”, boston globe, 16 Oct 1946: 20.
17 most enthusiastic, “brecheen is the team’s hero in a dramatic 4-3 victory; decisive race for the kill.”
18 tietjen, “Go ahead, folks, and choose your hero of the series: the Cardinals have them by the dozen.”
20 george c. carens, “dimaggio injury big game break”, boston traveler, 16 Oct 1946: 32.
21 Grantland Rice, “Not the Best I’ve Seen, But Better, Says Card Dyer,” Boston Globe, Oct 16, 1946: 22.
22 the other pitchers to win three games in a single world series were deacon phillippe (pittsburgh pirates) and bill dineen (boston americans) in 1903; Christy Mathewson with the New York Giants in 1905; the pirates baby adams in 1909; Jack Coombs (Philadelphia Athletics) in 1910; smoky joe wood of the red sox in 1912; Red Faber (Chicago White Stockings) in 1917; and finally stan coveleski (cleveland indians) in 1920.
23 Broeg’s pronouncement was not a matter of Homerism; The Cardinals outscored the Red Sox in nearly every significant offensive and defensive category. The final batting bar for the Cardinals was .259/.320/.371 compared to .240/.309/.330 for the Red Sox. the Cardinal team era was 2.32; red socks 2.95; and ultimately the Cardinals made four errors to the Red Sox’s 10.
24 stockton, “the slaughter race to certain death is a winning bet; brecheen and walker also epic ending heroes”,
26 hughson started games one and four, although he lasted only two innings in the last one. in game six he pitched 4⅓ scoreless innings of relief.