George McQuinn failed his Army physical and still batted .438 in the 1944 World Series.
His back hurt like the devil, and Uncle Sam wrote him off as 4-F—unfit for service. He still made the ’44 American League All-Star team in the only year the Browns won the pennant.
McQuinn, who would earn a spot on six All-Star teams in his 12-year career, belted a two-run home run in Game 1 to give his team the Series lead against the Cardinals. Following a Red Bird victory in Game 2, McQuinn went 3-3 with two RBI in Game 3 as the Browns beat the Cardinals 6-2. St. Louis’ underdog A.L. team took a 2-1 Series lead against its mighty National League foe.
Game 3 began on a sizzling Oct. 6 afternoon in St. Louis. The high temperature settled in the mid-90s. Ted Wilks started for the Cardinals, Jack Kramer for the Browns. The Cardinals broke out on top. Johnny Hopp ripped a ball that Browns shortstop Vern Stephens promptly booted. Hopp ran to second and scored on Walker Cooper’s two-out single.
The Browns chased Wilks with four runs in the third. The onslaught began with two out. Gene Moore and Vern Stephens singled, followed by RBI hits from McQuinn and Al Zarilla. Mark Christman’s single brought home McQuinn. That ended the day for Wilks. The final run of the inning scored when reliever Fred “Fritz” Schmidt uncorked a wild pitch, and Zarilla sprinted home.
Marty Marion’s RBI single in the top of the seventh cut the Browns’ lead in half. His hit brought home Whitey Kurowski, who reached on an error and went to third on a groundout.
In the bottom of the seventh, Don Gutteridge smacked a double off new Cardinal pitcher Al Jurisch. Gutteridge advanced to third on a ground out and came home on a wild pitch. McQuinn added an RBI double to complete the scoring.
Might this be the year for the Browns? Going back to 1925, the Cincinnati Reds were the only team to win the World Series after being down 2-1. (The Reds beat the Detroit Tigers in seven games in 1940.)
Game time: 2 hours, 19 minutes
Site: Sportsman’s Park
Winning pitcher: Jack Kramer
Losing pitcher: Ted Wilks