The year 1944 gave several less well-known baseball players unexpected chances to shine, since many of the better players were serving in the military. Below are headlines from the the 1944 baseball season:
Snuffy Stirnweiss Leads American League in Runs
Snuffy Stirnweiss totaled 290 MVP votes in 1944 and 1945 and never received another. In 1944, he led the American League with 125 runs scored and 205 hits. Although he is lumped now among the war-time players who had a couple of fluky good seasons, in one respect -- fielding -- he did his best work after the war.
Marty Marion is Named 1944 National League MVP
Marty Marion was regarded by sportswriters as the National League's best shortstop during the 1940s, but most National League players felt that Eddie Miller was his superior -- at least in the field. A .267 hitter in 1944, Marion won the National League MVP Award by a scant one-vote margin over Bill Nicholson of the Cubs.
Nick Etten Leads the American League in HRs
If asked to rattle off the names of all the Yankees' home run and RBI kings, few will remember to mention Nick Etten. But his anonymity today notwithstanding, Etten was the Yankees' top slugger from 1943 to 1945, blasting an American League-high 22 home runs in 1944. He later played in the high minors until he was nearly age 40.
George McQuinn Tops the 1944 World Series Hitters
George McQuinn hit .438 for the Browns in the 1944 World Series. McQuinn had the dimmest future imaginable in the early 1930s. He played first base in the Yankees farm chain while Lou Gehrig played the position every day for the parent club.
Joe DiMaggio Serves in the Military
Staff sergeant Joe DiMaggio has his unit patch sewn on his uniform by Brigadier General William Floos. In DiMaggio's absence, Johnny Lindell manned center field for the Yankees in 1944. Lindell was drafted the following season, and the job fell to Tuck Stainback, who had not played regularly in the majors since 1934.
Dixie Walker Tops the National League at .357
The favorite player of many Brooklyn fans in the 1940s, Dixie Walker was nicknamed "The People's Cherce." He earned the most cheers in 1944 when he led the National League with a .357 average. However, Dixie overestimated his popularity with the Brooklyn management. When Walker declared in 1947 that he would not play on the same team with Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey traded him to Pittsburgh.
See the next page for more 1944 baseball season headlines.
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