1942 Baseball Season Recap

At the beginning of the 1942 baseball season, the Yankees lost Tommy Henrich to the Army -- a continuation of World War II's affect on baseball rosters. Still, the Bronx Bombers managed a near-repeat of their 1941 performance. Wit­h a deep and versatile attack, they led the American League in runs scored and fewest runs allowed, and went 103-51 to come in 9 games ahead of second-place Boston.

Joe DiMaggio batted .305 with 123 runs (second to Ted Williams), 114 RBI (also second to Williams), 21 homers, and 13 triples. Outfielder Charlie Keller scored 106 runs, drove in 108, and drew 114 walks (again, second to Williams). Sophomore Phil Rizzuto stole 22 bases, and his double-play partner Joe Gordon hit .322 with 103 RBI, fourth in the American League.

The Yankees' pitching was just as strong, as pitchers Tiny Bonham, Spud Chandler, and Hank Borowy were second, third, and fifth in the American League in ERA at 2.27, 2.37, and 2.53. Bonham went 21-5 and was second in wins to Boston's Tex Hughson, who had a 22-6 record.

Boston was second in team runs on the strength of good years from Williams, who won the Triple Crown by hitting .356 with 36 homers and 137 RBI; Johnny Pesky, who hit .331; Bobby Doerr, who hit 35 doubles and 15 homers; and Dom DiMaggio, who scored 110 runs. Showing how disliked Williams was by the sportswriters, he lost the MVP vote to the Yankees' Gordon, 270 to 249, even though Gordon led the American League in strikeouts with 95 and errors with 28.

Enos Slaughter
Enos Slaughter was one
of the many stellar
players who came out of
the St. Louis farm system.

The 1942 National League race was a mirror image of 1941, as the St. Louis Cardinals won a squeaker over Brooklyn by 2 games. Foreshadowing many famous fades, Brooklyn built a 10-1/2 game-lead by August, only to be overtaken by a 43-8 Cardinals run.

The 1942 St. Louis team represented the finest hour for Branch Rickey, the architect of the modern farm system. St. Louis was paced by home-grown products Stan Musial, who hit .315; Enos Slaughter, who hit .318; shortstop Marty Marion, who led the league in doubles with 38; outfielder Terry Moore; and catcher Walker Cooper.

Walker Cooper's teammate and brother-Mort Cooper-copped the MVP Award, winning 22 games and leading the league with a 1.77 ERA. And 24-year-old Johnny Beazley, who was second to Cooper in wins with 21 and in ERA at 2.13, led the league's finest pitching staff to a team ERA of only 2.55. Whit Wyatt did his part for the Dodgers, posting a 19-7 record.

Dodger Dolph Camilli drove in 109 runs and hit 26 home runs, tied for second with New York's Johnny Mize. Teammate Pete Reiser (who had collided with an outfield fence on July 2nd and suffered a severe concussion) was third in hitting at .310 (down from .390) and first in stolen bases with 20. The Giants' Mel Ott led in homers with 30, runs with 118, and walks with 109.

The Yankees took the opening game of the 1942 World Series 7-4 behind veteran Red Ruffing, but St. Louis rallied to win the Series in five games. It was the first time New York had lost in October since the 1926 Cardinals defeated them.

St. Louis rookies Musial and Whitey Kurowski had key hits in the '42 Series, but young Beazley was the hero with a 2-0, 2.50 ERA performance. Another young pitcher, 26-year-old Ernie White, defeated Spud Chandler on a six-hit shutout in game three. The Cardinals turned in a staff ERA of 2.60 to the Yankees' 4.50.

See the next page for headlines and summaries of the top stories from from the 1942 baseball season.

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1942 Baseball Season Headlines

In 1942, Mort Cooper became the National League's MVP, while Johnny Pesky of the American League made 200 hits. Here are some of the headlines of the 1942 baseball season:

Warren Spahn's Career Interrupted

Warren Spahn
was one of the many promising young players whose career was interrupted after the 1942 season by a stint in the armed services. Put on hold until 1946, Spahn did not win his first game until he was 25 years old. Despite his belated start, he collected 363 career wins. If his career hadn't been interrupted by the war, he probably would have won 400 career games. Only Cy Young and Walter Johnson have ever won 400.


Mort Cooper Named 1942 National League MVP


Mort Cooper fell just a fraction of a season short in joining Carl Hubbell and Harry Brecheen in a unique category. He would have been one of three pitchers active exclusively between 1920 and the onset of expansion (1961) to post career ERAs under 3.00 (minimum ten years pitched), Cooper finished his career with a 2.97 ERA and 128 wins. He was the National League MVP in '42, posting 22 victories.


Ted Williams Powers 1942 Red Sox


Ted Williams
(.356, 36 home runs, 137 RBI) sparked the Red Sox to 93 wins in 1942, their most in any season since 1915. Boston was never really in the race, however, owing to a lack of depth and a need for a front-line catcher. When Williams went into the service in 1943, the Sox tumbled to seventh place.


Pete Reiser Boosts 1942 Dodgers


In 1942, the Dodgers led the Cardinals by 10-1/2 games in mid-August, but had their seemingly comfortable margin gradually eaten away while Pete Reiser recovered from a fractured skull. Reiser had been hitting .390 that year. With a healthy Reiser, Brooklyn probably would have been able to hold off St. Louis' late charge and win a second straight flag. Reiser, who made a habit of running into fences, was seemingly always disabled. In his ten-year career, he played in only 861 games.


Rookie Johnny Pesky Nets 200 Hits


Johnny Pesky is the only American League player to make 200 or more hits in each of his first three seasons (1942, '46, and '47). Like many contact hitters of his era, Pesky used a long, heavy bat and choked up on the handle.


Enos Slaughter Hits .318


Some authorities credit Enos Slaughter with winning the 1942 National League bat title (.318). In any event, he ranked at or near the top in almost every major hitting department that season. Slaughter was a throwback, both in his style of play and in his ability to hit as many triples as home runs (17 and 13, respectively, in 1942).


For more headlines from the 1942 baseball season, see the next page.

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More 1942 Baseball Headlines

See below for more headlines of the 1942 baseball season, including the impact of World War II on baseball and the naming of Joe Gordon as the American League's MVP.

Mickey Cochrane Serves in War

Like many former stars, Mickey Cochrane was a precious commodity during World War II. Although done as a player, he served his country well as an organizer and manager of service baseball teams. After the war, Cochrane coached and scouted for several years, then was the A's general manager in Connie Mack's last season.

Johnny Beazley Takes National League By Storm

Johnny Beazley was an unnecessary casualty of World War II. Inducted after his brilliant rookie season of '42 (21-6, 2.13 ERA), he encountered arm trouble while playing on a service team. His commanding officer ordered Beazley to pitch despite the pain, and he permanently wrecked his arm. After the war, Beazley won just nine games in the remainder of his career. He retired at age 30.

1942 Cardinals Loaded With Characters

The 1942 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals certainly had their share of individuals. On the team were Estel Crabtree, a pinch hitter from Crabtree, Ohio; Howie Krist, a pitcher who had a 23-3 record over a two-year span; and second baseman Creepy Crespi, who broke a leg while serving in World War II.

Tommy Henrich's Season Ends

Tommy Henrich's late-season military call-up (he had collected 13 home runs and 67 RBI to that point) allowed Yankees sub outfielder Roy Cullenbine to play in the 1942 World Series. The Cardinals, in contrast, had all of their starting cast available. Although Henrich played on eight Yankees pennant-winners, he saw action in only four World Series.

Joe Gordon Named 1942 American League MVP

In 1942, Joe Gordon led all American League batters in strikeouts and grounding into the most double plays and he led all American League second basemen in errors. He was nonetheless voted the American League MVP (.322, 18 home runs, 103 RBI), and it was a solid choice. In his career, Gordon averaged 4.43 home runs per 100 at-bats, the highest average in history by a second baseman.

The next page highlights key events and details from the 1942 baseball season.

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1942 Baseball Season Highlights

The 1942 baseball season featured some of the greatest players to ever take the field. Hall-of-Famers like Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Mel Ott all had career years that helped cement their places in baseball history. Below, you will find the highlights from the 1942 baseball season:

  • The Cardinals win in the National League Championship.

  • The Yankees win the American League Championship for the second straight year.

    Red Ruffing
    Yankees pitcher Red
    Ruffing was able to prevent
    the Yanks from getting
    swept by the Cardinals in
    the 1942 World Series.

  • The Cards are first team since 1926 to beat the Yanks in the World Series, winning in five games.

  • The Yankees are spared from being swept in the 1942 World Series only because Red Ruffing wins the opener.

  • Cardinal Johnny Beazley is the 1942 World Series hero with two complete-game wins.

  • Yankee Phil Rizzuto is the top hitter in the 1942 World Series with a .381 batting average and eight hits.

  • Mort Cooper of the Cards wins the National League MVP Award.

  • Joe Gordon of the Yanks is the American League MVP.

  • Williams wins the Triple Crown (.356 BA, 36 homers, 137 RBI), but once again loses out on the MVP Award.

  • Williams also leads the American League in runs (141), walks (145), runs produced (242), total bases (338), OBP (.499), and SA (648).

  • Gordon leads league in errors at his position, strikeouts, and double plays grounded into, though he hits .322 with 103 RBI.

  • The Phils finish last for the National League record fifth consecutive year.

  • Cleveland's Lou Boudreau, age 24, is the youngest manager to begin the season at the helm of team.

  • Cooper tops National League with 22 wins and the majors with 1.77 ERA and ten shutouts.

  • Beazley wins 21 games as a rookie, enters the armed services, and is never again an effective pitcher.

  • Boston's Tex Hughson tops the American League in wins (22), innings (281), and CGs (22), and ties for lead in Ks (113).

  • The Dodgers' 104 wins tie the major league record for most wins by an also-ran.

  • Ott wins his last National League home run crown (30).

  • Ott tops the National League in runs (118) and walks (109).

  • Ott walks 100 times for a record seventh consecutive year.

  • Ernie Lombardi, now with the Braves, is awarded the batting title with .330 BA but only 309 at-bats.

  • Most sources credit Enos Slaughter as the National League BA leader (.318 in 591 at-bats).

  • The Baseball Hall of Fame inducts Rogers Hornsby.

  • The Braves trade Eddie Miller to the Reds for Eddie Joost, Nate Andrews, and cash.

  • The Braves trade Buddy Hassett and Gene Moore to the Yankees for Tommy Holmes.

  • Branch Rickey is fired as the Cards' general manager.

  • The Phils' 354 RBI are the fewest by any team since the dead-ball era.

  • Danny Litwhiler tops the Phils with just 56 RBI.

Check out the next page for more highlights of the 1942 baseball season.

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More 1942 Baseball Season Highlights

See below for more highlights of the 1942 baseball season, including pitcher Jim Tobin hitting three home runs in one game and Larry French throwing a no-hitter in his last game before heading to war:

  • Cleveland's Clint Brown sets a record when he pitches 220 straight games in relief roles.

  • Run production in both leagues is the lowest since 1919, the last year of the dead-ball era.

  • The Cardinals' 2.55 ERA is the best by any major league team from 1920 through 1966.

  • Cardinal Howie Krist has a 10-0 record, giving him the National League mark for most wins in a season without a loss.

  • In his last major league start before going into the Navy, Brooklyn's Larry French pitches a one-hitter.

  • French leads the National League with .789 win pct. -- the highest in history by a pitcher in his final major league season.

  • French leaves the majors with 197 wins -- the most at this juncture by any pitcher who never won 20 games in a season.

  • Hans Lobert of the Phils is the first rookie manager in major league history who's past the age of 60.

  • Washington's George Case tops the American League in steals with 44 in 50 attempts.

  • Johnny Mize leads the National League in RBI (110).

  • Red Sox rookie Johnny Pesky hits .331 and tops majors with 205 hits.

  • White Sox Ted Lyons goes 14-6 as he makes just 20 mound appearances, all of them CGs.

  • The American League wins the All-Star Game 3-1 at the Polo Grounds on July 6.

  • Detroit's Al Benton pitches a full five innings to get the save.

  • The next night, the American League wins 5-0 over the Service All-Stars, who are made up mostly of major leaguers in the armed forces.

  • Paul Waner collects his 3,000th hit. He was the last player to do this until 1957.

  • The average player's salary is down to $6,400.

  • The Phils score just 394 runs in 151 games.

  • Phillie outfielder Danny Litwhiler is the first major league regular to play a whole season without an error.

  • On August 14, the Yankees make a record seven DPs versus the A's.

  • On May 13, Brave Jim Tobin becomes the only pitcher in this century to hit three homers in a game.

  • Gordon and Rizzuto set an American League keystone record (since broken) when they total a combined 234 DPs.

  • Pittsburgh's Elbie Fletcher leads the National League in OBP (.417) for the third consecutive year.

  • Slaughter leads the National League in hits (188), triples (17), total bases (292), and runs produced (185).

  • Giant reliever Ace Adams appears in 61 games, which is a new NL mound record.

  • A's and Phils both finish last for the third year in a row.

  • In July, with the Dodgers 13-1/2 games ahead of the Cards, Pete Reiser crashes into a fence and fractures his skull.

  • Cardinals catch up to the Dodgers while Reiser's out with his injury.
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