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 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.
To learn more about baseball, see:
- 1941 Baseball Season
- 1943 Baseball Season
- Baseball History
- How Baseball Works
- How the Baseball Hall of Fame Works
- How Minor League Baseball Teams Work
- Babe Ruth