The Stars Are Back
The St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox, and Player Unrest in 1946
Publication Year: 2013
But while the nation was riveted by the return of its beloved baseball heroes, the game behind the scenes was just as dramatic. As the threat of unionization loomed and the Mexican League continued to lure players away from the United States with lucrative contracts, tensions between players and team owners mounted. The result was a standoff for control of the game that would culminate in the Magna Carta of baseball and the creation of standard contracts for players, ushering in the modern era of baseball.
Set against the backdrop of a country recovering from war, facing the new adversary of Communism, and absorbing the emotional impact of the atomic bomb, The Stars Are Back tells the story of a nation hungry for a return to normalcy and a game poised on the brink of new horizons.
Published by: Southern Illinois University Press
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Title Page, Jacket Flaps, Copyright Page
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This book is about two baseball teams—the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox—and the season of 1946 when they were the champions of their respective leagues. The Cardinals had to win a playoff with the Brooklyn Dodgers to get to the World’s Series after the two ended the season in the first tie in major league history. The Cardinals were the team of the decade in the 1940s. In nine seasons from 1941 through 1949, ...
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Professional baseball survived World War II. Not all sports did. Big-time golf was abandoned during the war, beginning with suspension of the Ryder Cup in 1939. The Davis Cup in tennis and America’s Cup in sailing were also suspended, and the Olympic Games were abandoned in 1940 and 1944. In 1946, optimism abounded in baseball as the game looked forward to its first postwar season, but conversion from war to peace pre-...
1. From Foxhole to Dugout
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L ate afternoon sunlight streamed into the Oval Office crowded with press and cameramen gathered to record the moment as President Harry Truman stood behind his desk to announce that Japan had surren-dered and that World War II was over. Reporters rushed from the room while a throng of thousands that had collected in Lafayette Park across from the White House broke through police barriers and, cheering wildly, rushed to ...
2. Peace Is Hell
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World War II left Europe in shambles. The victorious nations of Western Europe were destitute economically and militarily. Russia, which had liberated and now occupied the nations of Eastern Europe, stood as the major military and political force on the continent, while the United States, which had escaped the Great Depression at last, was the dominant economic and military power in the world. Long isolationist in its foreign ...
3. The Boys Come Marching Home
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The nation was ready for its first postwar baseball season. Spring training had been a big hit with fans who poured into Florida in unprecedented numbers. The president of the American Express Company declared 1946 “Victory Vacation Year,” and Americans by the thousands left the snow and ice of the northern winter for the warmth of the Sunshine State. The widely heralded return of the prewar galaxy of major league stars drew ...
4. What May Be
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Isn’t it great to have the old game back—the old game with the old stars?” Boston sportswriter Harold Kaese asked rhetorically.1 Post-war baseball was off to a great start. Stadiums were full, and most of the veterans returned to pick up where they left off, a little older, but with few apparent ill effects from their time away from the game. To be sure, some, like Washington’s great shortstop Cecil Travis, whose feet were frozen in ...
5. Moving Up . . . and Out
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The Red Sox had a day off following their three games in New York, during which they travelled to Chicago to start a ten-day trip through the western reaches of the American League. They had swept the nine games played in Fenway Park against the western teams, who were anxious to avoid a similar embarrassment at home. The White Sox were prepared to try anything to blunt the Red Sox offense. In New York, the ...
6. Of Barristers and Baseball
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...e veryone in sports, it seems, is going to court these days,” Robert Burns of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat observed, “or threatening to do so. Baseball has been airing its grievances, and now professional football apparently is planning to take a contract dispute before a judge.” The foot-ball fight was between the Boston Yanks and the Los Angeles Dons of the competing National and All-American football conferences. Each claimed ...
7. The Swoons in June
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The season began with record crowds filling major league stadiums. As it went on, fans continued to fill seats in numbers beyond anything the game had ever known. The giant crowds for the two rounds of opening days were surpassed by the 288,584 who attended games on Sunday, May 19, and ten days later by a Memorial Day turnout of 277,761. By the end of their June home stand, the Yankees had gone over one million in only twenty-eight ...
8. Midsummer Dreams
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...a mericans were ready to celebrate July 4. The first anniversary of the nation’s independence since the end of World War II was filled with the usual flags, fireworks, band concerts, parades, and picnics but also with extra joy and meaning for families reunited with loved ones home from service in a war to preserve that independence, yet tempered by the sadness of those whose loved ones did not return. Americans had been released from ...
9. Hardball on and off the Diamond
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With Boston still buzzing about the All-Star game and the perfor-mance of Ted Williams, the Red Sox went back to work by sweeping a three-game home stand with the Detroit Tigers. Fred Hutchinson started the first game for the visitors, gave up a single run in the third on a Williams double, and another in the fourth on a single by Boston starter Tex Hughson. Hughson nursed the two-run lead into the ninth when, with two runners ...
10. The Travails of Travel
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None of the contenders in either league travelled well. All struggled away from home, none more so than the Brooklyn Dodgers. Their three weeks on the road in July, interrupted by the All-Star break, brought one frustration after another. They lost four of the first five series, including being swept by St. Louis, and even with three wins in Pittsburgh to end their journey, they returned to Ebbets Field having lost eleven while winning only ...
11. Dog Days and Vacation Time
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On August 15, 1946, Americans paused to remember the first anni-versary of V-J Day and the end of World War II. It was a restrained commemoration confined largely to gatherings of veterans, speeches by public officials, a show of flags, and visits to cemeteries. For the most part, the hundreds of thousands of Americans who had made up the enthusiastic throngs of the previous year went quietly about their lives. Theirs, however, ...
12. Into the Stretch
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I t had been a star-crossed summer for major league club owners. At-tendance records were being broken almost everywhere, an expansive minor league system was thriving, and baseball had clearly reclaimed its prewar eminence as the nation’s most popular sport, the national pastime as well as the national game. Yet, for all its success and stature, or perhaps because of it, major league baseball had fallen under assault from forces ...
13. To the Wire and Beyond
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The minor leagues enjoyed a rebirth in 1946 as many of them, like their major league counterparts, set new attendance records. As minor league seasons came to an end around Labor Day, it brought to a conclusion one of the major stories of the 1946 season, one that would be the story of the 1947 big league season. In Montreal, Canada, playing for Brooklyn’s Triple A club, Jack Roosevelt Robinson, the first African American in the twentieth ...
14. Seeing Red: Birds and Sox
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Sportswriters and gamblers alike saw the World’s Series as a mis-match. The Boston Red Sox had swept to the American League pen-nant, finishing twelve games ahead of the second place Detroit Tigers and seventeen ahead of the third place New York Yankees. “They ran off by them-selves at the start of the season,” Red Smith wrote, “and what followed was one long, sweet song of eventide,” a summer “as pleasant as a bird, a bottle, ...
15. 1946 and Beyond
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...a s the seventh game of the World’s Series began, a grim reminder of World War II came from Nuremberg, Germany, where ten Nazi leaders were hanged in the city jail after being convicted two weeks ear-lier of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Their executions brought a conclusion to one dimension of the postwar world. Another was being played out at home in the congressional elections that were a referendum on ...
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The Cardinals pitching staff featured four left-handers: left to right, Al Brazle, Howard Pollet, Max Lanier, and Harry Brecheen. Brazle returned from the mili-tary in June to win eleven games, working as both starter and reliever. Pollet won twenty-one games, most in the National League, and had the league’s best ERA of 2.10. Lanier won his first six starts of the season before leaving for the Mexican ...
About the Author, Back Cover
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Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2013