1944 St. Louis Browns season

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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
Manager(s) Luke Sewell
Local radio WEW/WTMV
(Dizzy Dean, Johnny O'Hara)
Previous season     Next season

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 crosstown Cardinals, four games to two.

Offseason[edit]

Regular season[edit]

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[edit]

  • 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 Wil 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[edit]

Hal Epps CF
Don Gutteridge 2B
George McQuinn 1B
Vern Stephens SS
Gene Moore RF
Milt Byrnes LF
Mark Christman 3B
Frank Mancuso C
Jack Kramer P

Season standings[edit]

American League W L Pct. GB
St. Louis Browns 89 65 .578 --
Detroit Tigers 88 66 .571 1
New York Yankees 83 71 .539 6
Boston Red Sox 77 77 .500 12
Cleveland Indians 72 82 .468 17
Philadelphia Athletics 72 82 .468 17
Chicago White Sox 71 83 .461 18
Washington Senators 64 90 .416 25

Roster[edit]

1944 St. Louis Browns
Roster
Pitchers Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Other batters

Manager

Coach

Player stats[edit]

Batting[edit]

Starters by position[edit]

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
C Hayworth, RedRed Hayworth 89 239 60 .223 1 25
1B McQuinn, GeorgeGeorge McQuinn 146 516 129 .250 11 72
2B Gutteridge, DonDon Gutteridge 148 603 148 .245 3 36
3B Christman, MarkMark Christman 148 547 148 .271 6 83
SS Stephens, VernVern Stephens 145 559 164 .293 20 106
OF Byrnes, MiltMilt Byrnes 128 407 120 .295 4 45
OF Kreevich, MikeMike Kreevich 105 402 121 .301 5 44
OF Moore, GeneGene Moore 110 390 93 .238 6 58

Other batters[edit]

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
Zarilla, AlAl Zarilla 100 288 86 .299 6 45
Mancuso, FrankFrank Mancuso 88 244 50 .205 1 24
Baker, FloydFloyd Baker 44 97 17 .175 0 5
Laabs, ChetChet Laabs 66 201 47 .234 5 33
Chartak, MikeMike Chartak 35 72 17 .236 1 7
Epps, HalHal Epps 22 62 11 .177 0 3
Demaree, FrankFrank Demaree 16 51 13 .255 0 6
Clary, EllisEllis Clary 25 49 13 .265 0 4
Turner, TomTom Turner 15 25 8 .320 0 4
Hafey, TomTom Hafey 8 14 5 .357 0 2
Schultz, JoeJoe Schultz 3 8 2 .250 0 0
Martin, BabeBabe Martin 2 4 3 .750 0 0
Schulte, LenLen Schulte 1 0 0 ---- 0 0

Pitching[edit]

Starting pitchers[edit]

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

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Galehouse, DennyDenny Galehouse 24 153 9 10 3.12 80
Jakucki, SigSig Jakucki 35 198 13 9 3.55 67
Kramer, JackJack Kramer 33 257 17 13 2.49 124
Muncrief, BobBob Muncrief 33 219.1 13 8 3.08 88
Potter, NelsNels Potter 32 232 19 7 2.83 91
Sundra, SteveSteve Sundra 3 19 2 0 1.42 1

Other pitchers[edit]

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
Hollingsworth, AlAl Hollingsworth 26 92.2 5 7 1 4.47 22
Shirley, TexTex Shirley 23 80.1 5 4 0 4.15 35

Relief pitchers[edit]

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

Player G IP W L SV ERA SO
Caster, GeorgeGeorge Caster 42 81 6 6 12 2.44 46
Zoldak, SamSam Zoldak 18 38.2 0 0 0 3.72 15
West, LeftyLefty West 11 24.1 0 0 0 6.29 11
Hudlin, WillisWillis Hudlin 1 2 0 1 0 4.50 1

1944 World Series[edit]

Main article: 1944 World Series

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

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

Awards and honors[edit]

All-Star Game

League leaders[edit]

Team leaders[edit]

Farm system[edit]

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[edit]

  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, SC, 2003, ISBN 0-7385-3199-5
  4. ^ As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p. 65
  5. ^ a b As Good As It Got, The 1944 St. Louis Browns, p. 70
  6. ^ a b c 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, N.C.: Baseball America, 1997

External links[edit]

Preceded by
New York Yankees
1943
American League Champions
1944
Succeeded by
Detroit Tigers
1945