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St. Louis Regional history comes alive in this joint production by KDHX and the Missouri Historical Society. Stories of our past are connected with the present in these well researched and entertaining short presentations about the people, places, and events that have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. 

Feb 24, 2022

During the 1944 season, St. Louis had two professional baseball teams, the powerhouse St. Louis Cardinals and the usually hapless St. Louis Browns. Both teams were destined to meet in the World Series that year. Just press play to hear the whole story. ------

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Podcast Transcript: I’m Adam Kloppe, public historian with the Missouri Historical Society, and Here’s History on eighty-eight one, KDHX. ———

“First in shoes, first in booze, and last in the American League.” For the first half of the twentieth century, this phrase was used to describe St. Louis. First in shoes because the city was a hub of footwear manufacturing; first in booze because several popular beers were brewed in St. Louis. And last in the American League because the city was home to two professional baseball teams—the powerhouse St. Louis Cardinals, of the National League, and the hapless St. Louis Browns, who perennially finished near the bottom of the American League standings. ———

But things almost changed in 1944. That year, with many All-Star players having been drafted into military service, the Browns put together a team of wily veteran players, many of whom had bounced around baseball for years. The ragtag Browns fought hard all season, surprising many experts. As the season was winding to a close, the Browns were in the hunt for the American League pennant. They just need to win the last four games of the season. The only problem was that their opponent in those games was the mighty New York Yankees. ———

Those four games were full of heroics for the Browns, and they won the first three games in dramatic fashion. But the most rapturous moment came in the season’s final game when part-time outfielder Chet Laabs smoked TWO home runs. The 37,000 plus fans in Sportman’s Park went nuts. The Browns had won the pennant and were going to the World Series. ———

They wouldn’t have to travel far for the World Series, either. The celebrated St. Louis Cardinals led by Stan Musial were the Browns opponent, meaning the whole series would be played at Sportsman’s Park. Most experts picked the vaunted Cardinals to win handily. In the beginning of the Series, the Browns made those experts look silly—the Browns won two of the first three games, and mostly kept the Cardinals offense in check. But the Cardinals came alive in Game 4 and went on to win the Series in six games.  ———

Even though the Browns lost, some fans had hopes that this World Series appearance would turn the Browns fortunes around. But the Browns never repeated their success. They never won another pennant, and most of the city’s baseball fans remained loyal to the Cardinals. The Browns moved to Baltimore after the 1953 season.  ———

Here’s History is a joint production of KDHX and the Missouri Historical Society. I’m Adam Kloppe, and this is eighty-eight one, KDHX, St. Louis. ———