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The Stars Are Back

The St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox, and Player Unrest in 1946

Jerome M. Mileur

Publication Year: 2013

In 1946, as the aftershocks of World War II still trembled across the globe, America returned to its favorite pastime: baseball. In The Stars Are Back, Jerome M. Mileur offers a fascinating account of this storied season and of the backstage battle that would forever transform the game of professional baseball. Mileur begins with one of the most famous clashes in major league history: the neck-and-neck race to the National League pennant between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Brooklyn Dodgers. As these two iconic teams engaged in a bitter struggle leading to the first-ever playoff to determine the winner of the National League pennant, the Boston Red Sox blazed a trail to the top of the American League to face the Cardinals in the World’s Series, as it was then called.

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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p. 1-1

Title Page, Jacket Flaps, Copyright Page

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pp. i-v


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pp. vi-vii

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pp. viii-xiii

...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, they won four National League pennants, finished second five times, and...

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pp. 1-5

...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 presented problems for those who ran the game as it did for those who ran the country. The first issue of the Sporting News in 1946 featured a cartoon illustrating...

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1. From Foxhole to Dugout

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pp. 6-25

...Harry Truman stood behind his desk to announce that Japan had surrendered 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 press against the heavy iron fence that surrounds the presidential residence, bringing their expressions of joy as close to the nation’s chief executive...

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2. Peace Is Hell

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pp. 26-39

...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 policy, the United States now looked upon a world in which it was the primary...

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3. The Boys Come Marching Home

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pp. 40-54

...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 fans from the East and Midwest to see for themselves how their favorite clubs...

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4. What May Be

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pp. 55-69

...Postwar 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...

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5. Moving Up . . . and Out

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pp. 70-87

...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 Yankees had kept their field covered until game time, denying Boston the...

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6. Of Barristers and Baseball

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pp. 88-103

...do so. Baseball has been airing its grievances, and now professional football apparently is planning to take a contract dispute before a judge.” The football fight was between the Boston Yanks and the Los Angeles Dons of the competing National and All-American football conferences. Each claimed to own the services of former Notre Dame quarterback Angelo Bertelli, who...

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7. The Swoons in June

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pp. 104-120

...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...

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8. Midsummer Dreams

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pp. 121-138

...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 the anxieties and obligations of war, and with a new prosperity, they were...

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9. Hardball on and off the Diamond

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pp. 139-152

...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 on, former Sox shortstop Eddie Lake doubled to tie the score and send the game into extra innings. Hutchinson, who had held the Sox scoreless after...

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10. The Travails of Travel

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pp. 153-170

...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 eight in their time away. Moreover, they had seen a commanding seven and...

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11. Dog Days and Vacation Time

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pp. 171-189

...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, was not the prewar America but was instead a nation perched on the edge of an extended period of economic growth that would bring unimagined...

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12. Into the Stretch

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pp. 190-206

...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 outside the game that threatened to disrupt its traditions and order. The...

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13. To the Wire and Beyond

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pp. 207-223

...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 century to play in Organized Ball, had been a sensation....

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14. Seeing Red: Birds and Sox

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pp. 224-246

...For the St. Louis Cardinals, the season had been a bumpy ride in which they had been unable to shake the dogged Dodgers, finishing in a tie that required a playoff before they finally claimed the pennant. Longtime Redbirds had been sold before the season began, players returning from the military did not recover their prewar skills, and others were drawn away...

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15. 1946 and Beyond

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pp. 247-258

...leaders were hanged in the city jail after being convicted two weeks earlier 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 President Harry Truman’s handling of reconversion, demobilization, and...


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pp. 259-274


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pp. 275-278


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pp. 279-294

Image Plates

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pp. 295-316

About the Author, Back Cover

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pp. 317-318

E-ISBN-13: 9780809332724
E-ISBN-10: 0809332728
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809332717
Print-ISBN-10: 080933271X

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 37
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Baseball -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Baseball players -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Baseball -- Social aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
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