Some refer to it as the defensive World Series and some call it the Streetcar Series. No matter the 1944 World Champion St Louis Cardinals were the class of the league in defense. That is what was the deciding factor for this team. Just two years away from winning it all in 1942 with a dramatic come-from-behind pennant race, this team won with ease. Two years in a row the Cardinals won 105 games only to be preceded by 106 in 1942.
Four St Louis players led the National League in fielding percentage. Marty Marion, a shortstop, Ray Sanders at first base, Whitey Kurowski at the hot corner and Johnny Hopp in center field. The team had a leagues best .982 fielding percentage.
Marion, who had taken over for the veteran Terry Moore, was named league MVP even though he hit only .267 and had 63 RBI’s. May others Cardinal players had better numbers but they almost all agreed that Marion was their teams’ MVP. Sanders drove in 102 and Hopp batted .336. A young outfielder named Stan Musial hit a sizzling .347 in 1944.
Probably one of the most unique qualities of this team was their ability to replace players that had headed off to military service. Some of the names gone off to war were HArry Walker, Ernie White, Lou Klein, Howie Krist and Al Brazle. Other members had been gone for a few seasons like Enos Slaughter and Johnny Beazley.
In the pitching department the Cardinals had a 20-game winner in Mort Cooper along with Ted Wilks and Max Lanier winning 17 games followed by 16 game winner Harry Breechen.
In an interesting sidenote to this season was that this series saw the Cardinals play the St Louis Browns, whom they shared Sportsman’s Park with during the season. The Streetcar Series saw the stubborn pitching of the Cardinals prevail as they limited the Browns to only 2 runs in the last tree games. The Cardinals won the 4-2 to be known as the World Champions in 1944!