Look back at the 1944 MLB season.
By Glen Sparks
St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Marty Marion bats just .267. He adds only six home runs and 63 RBI. The writers like his defense and leadership skills. They vote him the National League Most Valuable Player. Teammates call him Slats; his long arms inspire some to label him The Octopus.
Dixie Walker wins his first and only batting title at the age of 34. The outfielder hits .357 for the Brooklyn Dodgers in his 13th season and finishes third in the MVP voting. Walker, from Villa Rica, Ga., hits .306 over an 18-year career. Brooklyn fans call him The People’s Cherce.
Hal Newhouser wins 29 games for the Detroit Tigers. He also leads the American League in strikeouts (187) and ERA (2.22). The hometown left-hander (Wilbur Wright High School) is voted A.L. MVP. Newhouser, 4-F for World War II due to a leaky heart valve, also earns MVP honors in 1945. He wins 80 games from 1944-46.
Lou Boudreau leads the A.L. with a .327 batting average. The Cleveland Indians shortstop also slams 45 doubles to top the league. Boudreau enjoys his best campaign in 1948. He bats .355, drives in 106 and wins MVP honors.
The Boston Braves’ Jim Tobin tosses a no-hitter on April 27 at Braves Field against the Dodgers. Tobin also homers off Brooklyn’s Fritz Ostermueller in the eighth inning. He is the second pitcher to slam a homer and hurl a no-no in the same game. Wes Ferrell did it April 29, 1931, for the Indians.
George Myatt enjoys the game of his life on May 1. He goes 6-for-6 for the Washington Senators against the Boston Red Sox. The second baseman slaps five singles, one double and drives in four as Washington beats Boston 11-4. Myatt plays seven years in the majors and hits .283 with four home runs.
All baseball games get cancelled on June 6 as Allied forces begin the liberation of Europe in Normandy, France.
The Cincinnati Reds call 15-year-old pitcher Joe Nuxhall into action on June 10. Nuxhall gives up five runs in 2/3 of an inning. The lefty from nearby Hamilton, Ohio, does not appear in another big-league game until 1952. He wins 135 games in a 16-year career, most of it spent in Cincinnati. Nuxhall later becomes a beloved broadcaster with the Reds.
Braves pitcher Red Barrett needs just 58 pitches to throw a two-hit shutout against the Reds on Aug. 10. Barrett doesn’t walk or strikeout anyone in the 2-0 game that lasts 75 minutes. The legendary umpire Jocko Conlin works home plate. Barrett goes 69-69 in 11 seasons.
The St. Louis Browns win their lone A.L. pennant, nipping the Detroit Tigers by one game. Over in the N.L., the St. Louis Cardinals finish 14.5 games in front of the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cards beat the Browns in six games in the World Series. Every game is played at Sportsman’s Park on the city’s north side. Fans call this Fall Classic the “Streetcar Series” or “Trolley Series.”