When you think of the dynasties in the history of baseball, your mind immediatly jumps to the Yankees’ Murderer’s Row (Gehrig, Lazzeri, Ruth, Hoyt) or the Yankees’ Core Four dynasty of the 1990s (Pettitte, Jeter, Posada, Rivera, O’Neil, Williams). There is a short list of dynasties in any sport, and on every one of those lists you have at least one “forgotten” dynasty that usually isn’t in the discussion. A particular example of one of these dynasties, in baseball specifically, is the 1942-46 St. Louis Cardinals. To win a World Series has always been difficult; but an underrated task is winning the pennant. The Cardinals of the 1940s are known for winning four pennants in a five year span (including three straight). That, my friends, is an underrated dominance.
Mort Cooper, 1942 NL Wins and ERA leader. (22 wins/1.78 ERA). (credit: Wikipedia)
In 1942, the team was coming off a 97 win season, and a second place national league finish in the 1941 season; with the New York Yankees still ruling the sport of baseball. The Cardinals had put up some nice, contending seasons in the past, but had a hill to climb to reach the sports pinnacle. Being led by Terry Moore as far as batting, and staff ace Mort Cooper on the mound, the Cardinals would climb the hill and dethrone the Yankees. Beating the Yankee 4-1 in the Series, Cooper ending up winning the NL MVP as he took home his first World Series ring.
The year is now 1943, it’s a new season the Cardinals now have a target on their backs as they look to defend their World Series Championship. Finishing first in the league, Cooperstown inductee Stan Musial was excellent at bat, winning the MVP award, with Mort Cooper repeating his MVP form. Though his ERA went up and strikeouts went down, he still dominated hitters posting a 2.30 ERA with a 1.120 WHIP. The Yankees, however, saw their pennant and used it for revenge. Defeating them in similar fashion, the Yankees won the Series 4-1 for their 10th of 27 World Championships.
Looking to get back to the mountaintop, St. Louis came back strong in 1944. With the batting and pitching more balanced than just one solid leader, they were untouchable. Marty Marion, St. Louis’ starting shortstop, won the MVP. What’s even more impressive? By the eye he didn’t even have the best statistical season on the team. The Cardinals didn’t end up getting a chance to dethrone the Yankees as the World Series was an all St. Louis Series with the Cardinals clashing with the Browns. The Cardinals would win in six with a 4-2 Series over the Browns (now known as the Baltimore Orioles).
Finishing with the second best record in the NL in 1945, they had an impressive run with three consecutive pennants, but with the war they lost too much talent to make the historical fourth straight. They only had one batter hit over .300 and their pitchers couldn’t win the pennant with the lost run support.
The Cardinals were looking to get their crown back in 1946, confident they could do it after coming so close in the 1945 season. The batting improved drastically and Stan Musial won the MVP award. The Cardinals won the pennant and would end up back in the World Series. They didn’t make short work of the Red Sox, taking all seven games to win the Series 4-3 to become the Kings of Baseball again.
After this run, the Cardinals weren’t the solid cornerstone piece atop the National League anymore. Everyone went on, as this dominance was undermined. They wouldn’t become big again until the emergence of Hall of Fame ace Bob Gibson. They had a small Championship run in 1982, until they finally put up a second dynasty centered around Albert Pujols. But it shouldn’t be undermined, which is why I chose to honor the team in my Dynasty Series. Who would you like to see next? Leave requests below!
Elsio Rosario, Writer at the Athletes Hub.
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(Mandatory Image Credit: Getty)