On July 3, 1946, the Cardinals put a stop to a four game losing streak by pounding the Reds to the tune of 16-0 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. 10 of the 16 runs came in the fourth inning, as the Cardinals batted around in the inning, which was capped off with a three run blast by Whitey Kurowski. Enos Slaughter and Stan The Man both picked up two hits apiece in the big inning. The big bat of the day belonged to Slaughter, as the man they called "Country" knocked in six men by going 3 for 5 on the day.
The Birds scored four more in the sixth, then two more in the seventh, then sat back and watched starting pitcher Kenny Burkhart pick up a complete game shutout. The dominating performance was a sign of things to come for that group of men, as they embarked on a championship season that will forever be remembered among every member of Cardinal Nation.
The Cardinals came into this game more than ready to end that four game skid, and they proved that on the diamond in very pretty dramatic way. Those boys knew if they were going to compete with the Dodgers they would have to win, and win often. The victory on that fine day put them seven games back of those Bums from Brooklyn.
A couple of years ago I wrote about this ballgame and referred to it as a turning point in the season. It may have been; it may not of. However, what I do know is that the team did heat up, and when Brooklyn came to town on July 14th to face off against the Birds in a four game set, they held just a four and a half game lead in the standings, and by the end of that four game set the Cardinals had swept them out of town and trailed by a half a game. The heat was on. The race was on.
It was quite the race. Just a few days after that 16-0 beatdown was played the Redbirds took the lead in the National League, but the Dodgers would not go away. From July 24th to August 21st the Brooklynites maintained a narrow advantage, never leading by more than two and a half games. Then the tables turned, and the Cardinals held the advantage from August 28th to September 25th. Besides the 26th, when the Cardinals jumped ahead by a game, the two clubs had been locked in a tie atop the standing in that week between the 21st and 28th.
Like the Cardinals, the Dodgers kept battling, and they finally caught the Redbirds during the final three days of the season. When the regular season came to an end they were tied. Both clubs had posted 95 wins and 68 losses, and for the first time in the history of Major League Baseball the word playoff was used. It was going to be a three game set to decide who would meet the Boston Red Sox in the Fall Classic.
The President of the National League, Ford C. Frick flipped a coin to decide where the games would be played, which ended up going the Dodgers way, as Sam Breadon picked the wrong side of the coin, giving the Dodgers a chance to start the series in Flatbush. Rather than take that option they made the decision to start the series in St. Louis, so they would be able to play at home for the second game, and the third if need be. I guess the idea was they would surely win one, so they might as play the tiebreaker at home.
The problem for the Dodgers is they would not win one. The Cardinals won the first game at Sportsman's Park with a 4-2 victory, then traveled to Brooklyn and won 8-4. They were the Champions of the National League, and would be facing powerhouse 104 game winning club led by Ted Williams. A formidable foe, it took the Cardinals seven games to beat Teddy's club, and when they did they forever cemented themselves into baseball history as World Champions.
As I look back today, I have a hard time saying if that 16-0 victory over the Reds was a true turning point. However, that 16-0 win was crucial. Anytime a team hits a skid, it is important to remember that all it takes is one game to end it, and all it takes is one game to start a winning streak. While we will never know what the Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer said to his men behind closed doors, I would imagine he let them know exactly that. Let's win one, then we will win another. Just get out there and play ball like you know you can, and good things will come; great things will come.
Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN194607030.shtml
The picture features Whitey Kurowski, Enos Slaughter, Marty Marion, and the one and only Stan The Man Musial. It was taken after the championship game in Brooklyn. Proud to say it is hanging on my wall.