Two of three previous meetings were memorable.
The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals will meet in the World Series for the fourth time starting tomorrow evening. The only match-ups that have happened more often in the Fall Classic are the Yankees/Cardinals (11), Giants/Yankees (7), and Cardinals/Yankees (5).
In their last meeting, in 2004, the games themselves were rather forgettable as the Red Sox swept the Cards; however, that was the year Boston captured its first championship since 1918 and put to rest forever The Curse of the Bambino.
The two prior meetings between the two teams were anything but forgettable.
This series has significance because this was Ted Williams‘ only appearance in the World Series. The Cards and Sox won every other game which led to Game 7 in Sportsman Park in St. Louis. Dom DiMaggio accounted for all three of the Red Sox runs and Boston tied the game at three in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of the inning Enos Slaughter started the inning off with a single to center field. Whitey Kurowski failed to push Slaughter over with a bunt popout. Del Rice flied out which brought up Harry Walker with two outs in the inning. Walker crushed a ball over Johnny Pesky‘s head into left-center field and Slaughter took off. Leon Culberson fielded the ball and hit Pesky as the cutoff man. Pesky whirled around and briefly hesitated to throw it home as Slaughter surprisingly turned third base and headed for the score. The ball was up the line and Slaughter slid in safe in what has since been known as the Mad Dash. The Cardinals shut the Red Sox down in the top of the ninth and the Cardinals captured their sixth championship.
It’s worth noting that Ted Williams had a forgettable series with only one RBI on five hits in 25 at-bats. Williams would never again reach the Fall Classic and thus entered the conversation as the best player to never to win a championship.
In 1967 the Red Sox gave the city of Boston a ride they would never forgot. Still referred to as “The Impossible Dream” by Red Sox fans, this season featured one of the more unlikely World Series participants and some of the best players of the era.
The Red Sox were led by MVP and Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski who almost single-handily won the pennant. Over the final two weeks Yaz hit an astounding .513 (23 hits in 44 at-bats) with five home runs and 16 runs batted.
The ace of the pitching staff was Jim Lonborg who captured the Cy Young Award. Boston outlasted Detroit, Minnesota, and Chicago to win the pennant and face the 101 win team, St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals had an MVP in Orlando Cepeda, another all-star in Lou Brock and the frightening right-handed pitcher, Bob Gibson. Gibson missed most of the second half of the season with an injury, but came back in time for the September push to the pennant.
The series was a memorable as the stars came to play. Yastrzemski hit .400 with three homers and five RBI. Lonborg pitched two complete games in Game 2 and 5 while giving up a total of one run. Gibson was brilliant in his first two starts in Game 1 and 4 as he also went the difference. The Cardinals had a 3-1 series lead going into Game 5, but the Red Sox managed to tie the series and force a Game 7 between staff aces Gibson and Lonborg.
Lonborg pitching on two days rest and Gibson pitching on three days rest. Lonborg struggled from the beginning, while Gibson cemented his legacy as one the best World Series pitchers ever. The Cardinal’s ace went the distance for the third time in the series and took home his second Series MVP award (1964).
There is no guarantee this year’s series will provide the same amount of heroics or memorable moments. Just remember, however, that these are the two best teams in baseball and have been all season. While it will be tough to duplicate the epic battles of ’46 and ’67, the possibilities are too great not to watch.