Major League Baseball Season Recap 1945
World Series – Detroit Tigers AL over Chicago Cubs NL 4 games to 3
World Series MVP –
Babe Ruth Award –
Major League Cy Young Award Cy Young Award National League Cy Young Award American League
MVP Awards – NL Phil Cavarretta AL Hal Newhouser
Major League Rookie of The Year –
NL Rookie of The Year – AL Rookie of The Year –
All-Star Game – – over , played at The 1945 game was not played due to World War II. See the A.L. & N.L. league pages for the rosters.
Braves president Bob Quinn retires, with his son, John, becoming the team’s general manager of the team following his father’s departure. The former owner of the Red Sox and Braves, whose grandson will also become a major league GM, will serve as president of the Baseball Hall of Fame from 1948 to 1951, resigning from the position after suffering two strokes.
Billy Southworth Jr., the son of Cards manager Billy Southworth, is killed when his B29 crashes into the water off Flushing, New York. The 27-year-old was a veteran of 25 missions in Europe, and was the first player in organized baseball to enlist in World War II. The young Southworth was a well-regarded outfielder with the Toronto Maple Leafs (International League) in 1940.
1945 – At the major league meetings, the owners cancel the 1945 All-Star Game scheduled to be played at Boston’s Fenway Park on July 10th. Even after the cancellation, schedule-makers leave the dates of July 9, 10 and 11 open in case circumstances change, permitting the game. In place of the All-Star Game, eight simultaneous games pitting the National League vs. the American League are to be played. Seven are played, with the 8th being cancelled. Also approved is a rule change stating that a player needs 400 at bats to qualify for a batting title.
With war-time travel restrictions still in effect, the Dodgers open spring training at Bear Mountain, New York with 15 players in camp. Seven teams – the Browns, Tigers, Reds, Indians, Cubs, Pirates and White Sox – are training in Indiana, the most of any state. The Red Sox are at Tufts College in Massachusetts, while the Braves are prepping at the Choate School in Connecticut.
Pete Gray, a one-armed outfielder, plays his major league debut game with the St. Louis Browns at Sportsman’s Park. Gray hits a single off Les Mueller in four at-bats, and handles no chances in the outfield. St. Louis beats the Detroit Tigers, 7 – 1, for their ninth straight Opening Day win, setting a major league record that the 1975-1983 New York Mets will tie. Gray, one of many players recruited to perform during World War II, will hit .218 (51 for 254) in his only major league season.
4/17/1945: On Opening Day in Cincinnati, Pirates shortstop Frankie Zak reached first on a bunt, which sent teammate Al Lopez to second. Zak then asked for time to tie his shoelace, which was granted by umpire Ziggy Sears. However, Reds pitcher Bucky Walters had begun his pitch, which Jim Russell hit over the right field fence for an apparent three-run homer. The play was not allowed because of the time out. Russell then singled to CF to drive in one run. The eleven-inning contest was won by the home team, 7-6.
Mort Cooper goes AWOL from the Cardinals, returning to St. Louis. A 20-game winner for three previous seasons, Cooper, along with his brother Walker Cooper, has had his salary frozen at $12,000 for three years, and is in a salary dispute with owner Sam Breadon. Without Cooper, the Cards drop a pair to the Braves, losing 5 – 4 in 14 innings and 4 – 1.
Mort Cooper is traded by the Cardinals to the Braves. The three-time 20-game winner has twice jumped the club in a salary hassle. Threatening to run out again unless his contract is increased from $12‚000 to $15‚000‚ Cooper is swapped by owner Sam Breadon to the newly-affluent Braves for Red Barrett and $60‚000 cash. Cooper will develop arm trouble while Barrett‚ 9-16 in 1944‚ will win 21 games for the Cards this season.
The visiting Giants beat the Reds, 7 – 6, on a pinch homer by colorful Danny Gardella. Gardella had started the day by leaving a suicide note in his hotel room for his roommate Nap Reyes. When Reyes returned to the room a few minutes later‚ he noticed the open window and read the note. Horrified‚ he rushed to the window only to see the grinning face of Gardella‚ who had been hanging from the window ledge several stories over the street.
The Tigers lose Al Benton‚ who has 5 wins and 3 shutouts‚ when he is hit on the ankle in the 4th frame by a line drive off the bat of Bobby Estalella. The A’s score 4 in the 5th to win‚ 7 – 2. There is great confusion in the 2nd inning, when Irv Hall and George Kell bat out of turn for the A’s: Kell, batting 6th in the lineup card handed to umpire Eddie Rommel, comes up in place of Hall, who is batting 5th. He strikes out, so Tigers manager Steve O’Neill does not point out the mistake, validating Kell’s at-bat. But Hall then steps to the plate when the 7th hitter, 1B Dick Siebert, should have followed Kell. Hall singles, O’Neill appeals, and Rommel calls him out to end the inning. However, no one can then agree on who is to lead off the 3rd (if the rule had been properly applied, Siebert would have been the one called out to end the 2nd and number 8 hitter Frankie Hayes should have been next up). Rommel decides that Kell should be next. Both managers protest the decision, although no one seems to be sure who should have been the proper batter. When American League President Will Harridgerules on the protest filed by O’Neill (who claims, wrongly, that Siebert should have led off the 3rd), he dismisses the protest – but for the wrong reasons – indicating that he is just as confused as everyone else. The perplexing rule will be clarified in 1957.
5/24/1945 – The Athletics beat the Tigers, 7-2, in a wild game. In the fourth inning, pitcher Al Benton of the Tigers was hit by a line drive by Bobby Estalella. Benton suffered a fractured bone just above the right ankle and was carried off the field. The Philadelphia batting order turned in to umpire Eddie Rommel had Joe Burns batting fourth, Irv Hall fifth and George Kell sixth. However, on the scoreboard Hall and Kell were reversed. Burns struck out to open the bottom of the second inning. Kell, batting out of turn, also struck out. Hall then batted and, when he singled, the Tigers protested that he was out of order. Rommel declared Hall out, which was incorrect according to the rules. The proper batter in this case was Dick Siebert, who followed Kell in the lineup in the seventh spot, and he should have been declared out, not Hall. Rommel further declared that Kell should lead off the third inning, which is also incorrect. Since Siebert was the proper batter, Frankie Hayes (in the eighth spot) should have led off the third inning. Since Rommel had Kell lead off the third inning, it looks as if only five batters made six outs in the first two frames. One result of the confusion is that Kell’s strikeout disappeared from the official records. The confusion continued when the Tigers’ protest of the game based on Kell was not being the proper lead off batter was denied incorrectly by the AL president.
Away from the game for four years, Hank Greenberg makes a dramatic return in front of an emotional crowd of 47,700 at Briggs Stadium as he homers off Charlie Gassaway in his first game following being released from the Armed Forces. Hammerin Hank’s round-tripper helps the first-place Tigers beat the A’s, 9 – 5.
Filling wartime rosters requires going deeper into the bag. The Dodgers bring back Babe Herman from California. He pinch-hits twice against the Cardinals, tripping over first base on a hit. Guy Bush, Clay Touchstone and Hod Lisenbee, contemporaries of Herman in the 1920s, will get their chances on the mound. The Babe will go 9 for 34, mostly as a pinch-hitter, sock one homer, and be a popular gate attraction in Brooklyn.
The All-Star Game at Fenway Park is canceled because of travel restrictions. During the break in the schedule, 7 inter-league games are played for war charity. Plans for a USO-sponsored all-star game in Europe do not materialize, although the war in Germany is over and fighting in the Pacific will be over in 6 weeks.
The Chicago Cubs stop Tommy Holmes’s modern-day National League-record hitting streak at 37 games, beating the Boston Braves, 6 – 1, behind Hank Wyse, for their 11th victory in a row. The Braves take game two, 3 – 1, as Claude Passeau loses his first after nine straight wins. Holmes hit .433 during the streak and will finish at .352, second in the National League. His nine strikeouts coupled with 28 homers and 47 doubles is unparalleled for making contact and hitting for average and power.
Tommy Holmes goes 0-for-4 in the Braves’ 6-1 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field to end his consecutive-game hitting streak at 37, which sets a modern National League record. The mark will stand for 33 years until Pete Rose surpasses it in 1978 en route to establishing a new standard of 44, but the Reds’ infielder’s effort remains a game shy of the all-time record set by Willie Keeler’s 45-game streak over the 1896 and 1897 seasons with the NL’s Baltimore Orioles.
1945 – The Cubs purchase P Hank Borowy from the New York Yankees in an unexpected waiver deal. Borowy, 10-5 with the Yankees, was put on waivers, apparently to solve a roster problem, and was passed over by 15 teams. The Cubs snatch him for $97,500, and he will help the Cubs win the pennant with an 11-2 record, including three wins over the Cardinals down the stretch.
Irv Hall is credited with a single as his line drive winds up inside Dutch Leonard’s pants after it hits the Senators righthander in the stomach. The Washington starter may have lost the Philadelphia A’s shortstop’s batted ball, but he gets the win as Washington beats Philadelphia in the Griffith Stadium contest, 2 – 1.
Two remarkable debut pitching performances by Senators’ rookies makes the 15 – 4 loss to Boston a most memorable contest. The game which features Tom McBride tying a major league record by driving in six runs with a bases-loaded double and triple during the Red Sox’s 12-run fourth inning, sees Joe Cleary, the last major leaguer to be born in Ireland, give up seven runs on five hits and three walks in his only big league appearance to finish with a career ERA of 189.00. In mop-up work, World War II veteran Bert Shepard, with an amputated leg as a result of being wounded in combat, hurls 5 1/3 innings, giving up just one run on three hits in his only major league appearance.
At Pittsburgh, Pirate catcher Bill Salkeld is 5 for 5, including hitting for the cycle, and drives in all five runs, but his Bucs lose, 6 – 5 to Cardinals reliever Harry Brecheen. Salkeld hits his only triple of the year in the cycle, half his career total. His offensive effort offsets a curious defensive stat: he has no putouts or assists in the game.
Two remarkable debut pitching performances by Senators’ rookies make the 15-4 loss to Boston a most memorable contest. The game, which features Tom McBride tying a major league record by driving in six runs with a bases-loaded double and triple during the Red Sox’ 12-run fourth inning, sees Joe Cleary, the last major leaguer to be born in Ireland, giving up seven runs on five hits and three walks in his only big league appearance to finish with a career ERA of 189.00, and in mop-up work, veteran Bert Shepard, with an amputated leg as a result of being wounded in WW ll, hurls five 1/3 innings, giving up just one run on just three hits in his only major league appearance.
Mel Ott leads the Giants to a pair of wins over the Reds‚ 3 – 2 and 6 – 5. Ott hits a pinch 3-run homer in the 8th of the nitecap after his homer and another by Danny Gardella leads the way in opener. The Reds’ Bill McKechnie‚ desperate for hitting‚ selects P Joe Bowman to pinch-hit for Vern Kennedy in game 1. Bowman is 0-for-42. He will hit .088 for the season.
In the lid-lifter at Briggs Stadium‚ pitcher Jim Tobin‚ acquired on waivers‚ pitches 3 scoreless innings against New York and clubs a 3-run game-ending homer in the bottom of the 11th to win‚ 9 – 6. Another former Brave‚ Jim Turner‚ serves up the homer. The Tigers win the nitecap‚ 8 – 2‚ behind Hal Newhouser’s 18th win.
1945 – In game two of a doubleheader against the Reds, 37-year-old slugger Jimmie Foxx makes his first major league start, pitching the first seven innings for the Philadelphia Phillies. He leaves with a 4 – 1 lead, and Andy Karl saves Foxx’s only decision, a 6 – 2 final. Double X’s ERA in 10 appearances is 1.52. The lidlifter goes to the Phils as well, 5 – 0, though they are mathematically eliminated from a 1st place finish.
Better known for his home run prowess, Hall of Fame slugger Jimmie Foxx starts and throws 7.2 innings, giving up just 4 hits in the Phillies’ 4-2 nightcap victory over Cincinnati at Shibe Park. The 37 year-old corner infielder, playing in his final season, will take the mound a total of 9 times, posting a remarkable 1.59 ERA during 22.2 innings of work for the last place team.
Dodger shortstop Tommy Brown becomes the youngest player (17 years, 8 months, and 14 days) in major league history to hit a home run. The round-tripper by ‘Buckshot’, who started his career as a 16 year-old high school student, will be the only run Brooklyn scores off 30 year-old Pirates southpaw Preacher Roe, who goes the distance in the 11-1 rout of the home team at Ebbets Field.
A moment in American history takes place in Brooklyn as Branch Rickey meets with Jackie Robinson to share his plans to integrate the major leagues. During the three hour meeting, the Dodgers’ president will shout racial epithets to ‘test’ the 26 year-old ballplayer’s mettle to withstand the abuse which will come with being the first player to cross the color line this century.
Stan Hack of the Cubs becomes No. 82 in the 2,000-hit club when he collects a 1st-inning single off Pirate pitcher Preacher Roe. Earlier in the season the Senators’ Joe Kuhel and Red Sox OF Bob Johnson made the list. Hack scores after his safety, but the Pirates win, 6 – 4, over the first-place Cubs.
Detroit’s Hal Newhouser wrenches his back pitching against the Indians’ Bob Feller. Newhouser leaves the game in the 7th and will stay behind when the team leaves for New York‚ but will rejoin them on the 7th. The Tigers win, 5 – 4, behind Jim Tobin and are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the 2nd place Senators.
9/23/1945 – The Browns were playing a late-season game in Detroit and were ahead, 5-0, after eight innings. In the top of the ninth, Browns Manager Luke Sewell intentionally skipped pitcher Nels Potter in the batting order. Don Gutteridge stepped to the plate a turn early but made an out so nothing was said by the Tigers. Sewell wanted Potter to have a bit more rest before the bottom of the ninth on the hot day in Michigan and Potter finished the complete game shutout.
Paul Gillespie becomes the first of only two players in baseball history ever to hit home runs in their first and last big league at bats. The wartime Cubs reserve catcher went deep against the Giants at the Polo Grounds on September 11, 1942 and ends his career homering at the spacious Forbes Fields, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
George Stirnweiss of the Yankees gets 3 hits on the final day to raise his batting average to .309. The White Sox’s games are washed out, depriving the veteran Tony Cuccinello of a shot at the batting title. The only other .300 hitter playing full time is Johnny Dickshot. Neither Cuccinello nor Dickshot will ever play another game in the majors. Only Elmer Flick in 1905 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1968 ever lead the American League with a lower average than Stirnweiss, but the latter also leads the league with 195 hits, 107 runs, 22 triples, 301 total bases, 33 stolen bases, and a .476 slugging percentage.
To promote his nearby Billy Goat Tavern, William Sianis buys tickets to Game 4 of the Fall Classic for himself and Murphy, his pet goat. The bar owner becomes so upset when the Wrigley Field ushers ask his guest to leave, the Greek immigrant places a curse on the team, preventing the Cubs from ever winning a World Series again.
1945 – A goat and its owner make an appearance at Wrigley Field for Game 4 of the World Series. The pair is told to leave before the game ends, angering the owner. The Chicago Cubs lose to the Detroit Tigers, 4 – 1. Detroit will go on to win the Series in seven games and the Cubs won’t win another National League championship for the rest of the 20th century. A belief that the Cubs were cursed by the goat will eventually develop.
1945 – The rules are revised for election of modern players to the Hall of Fame. A runoff election is formulated as a way to qualify more players for selection, but it fails to meet its objective as no one reaches the 75 percent requirement in the runoff. Former players Frank Chance, Johnny Evers and Ed Walsh and former manager Miller Huggins come closest.
At the annual meeting, the major leagues head off the quest of the Pacific Coast League for major league status and grant more territorial protection for the upper minors by creating a new AAA classification for the PCL, American Association, and International League. The Eastern and Texas Leagues are promoted from Class A to AA. The South Atlantic League moves to Class A from Class B.
1945 – The Giants obtain a genuine “phenom,” pitcher/outfielder Clint Hartung, from Minneapolis for $20,000 and three players. Much ballyhooed, Hartung hit .358 in 66 games in 1942 for Eau Claire (Northern League) while winning three games. He was then in the military for the next three years, and will be still playing in the military for the 1946 season. The New York World Telegram’s Tom Meany writes, “Hartung’s a sucker if he reports to the Giants. All he has to do is sit at home, wait till he’s eligible, and he’s a cinch to make the Hall of Fame.”