Sylvester Urban Donnelly went by “Blix.” His dad gave him the name; no one seems to know the backstory. But, Blix it was.
The relief pitcher from Olivia, Minn., enjoyed two outstanding games for the Cardinals in the 1944 World Series. After throwing two perfect innings in Game 1, the 30-year-old rookie tossed four scoreless frames in Game 2 and got the win. The Cardinals beat the Browns 3-2 in 11 innings, knotting the Streetcar Series 1-1.
Max Lanier started Game 2 for the Cardinals. He lasted seven innings and gave up two runs, both in his final frame. Nels Porter started for the Browns and went six innings. He gave up single runs in the third and fourth innings.
Bob Muncrief took over for Porter in the seventh. Muncrief, an effective relief pitching for several years, kept the Cardinal bats quiet for four innings. The Redbirds finally broke through in the bottom of the 11th. Ken O’Dea, pinch-hitting for Emil Verban, singled to score Ray Sanders, who had opened the inning with a single and advanced to second on Whitey Kurowski’s sacrifice bunt.
In his winning effort, Donnelly gave up two hits, walked just one and struck out seven. (Donnelly struggled with his control in the minors, but he could always throw hard. He fanned 304 batters in 271 innings as a minor leaguer in 1941.)
Blix didn’t get into any more games in the Series. He threw 76 1/3 innings during the regular season, compiling a 2-1 record and an outstanding 2.12 ERA. Following a decent ’45 campaign, Donnelly was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies mid-way through 1946 and put together his best season in 1947. Over 120 2/3 innings, Blix Donnelly only went 4-6 but had a 2.98 ERA (ERA+ 134). He worked 38 games, started 10, completed five and threw one shutout. A member of the Phillies’ Whiz Kids team in 1950, Donnelly was more like the Kids’ uncle at age 36.
Donnelly retired after the 1951 season. He finished his career with a 27-36 won-loss record and 3.49 ERA in 691 1/3 innings pitched.
Game time: 2 hours, 32 minutes
Site: Sportsman’s Park
Winning pitcher: Blix Donnelly
Losing pitcher: Bob Muncrief