High-Flying Birds: The 1942 St. Louis Cardinals

Overview

1942: Americans suddenly found themselves at war but were not about to be distracted from the National Pastime. The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees were looking to continue their World Series rivalry from the 1941 season, and a youthful team from St. Louis was determined to stop them.

With only one player older than thirty, the St. Louis Cardinals were the youngest team to win the National League pennant and World Series. Built on good pitching and tremendous speed on the ...

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Overview

1942: Americans suddenly found themselves at war but were not about to be distracted from the National Pastime. The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees were looking to continue their World Series rivalry from the 1941 season, and a youthful team from St. Louis was determined to stop them.

With only one player older than thirty, the St. Louis Cardinals were the youngest team to win the National League pennant and World Series. Built on good pitching and tremendous speed on the base paths and in the field, the team featured rookie Stan Musial, future Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter, and ace pitcher Mort Cooper, the National League’s Most Valuable Player of 1942. With their winningest season ever, posting 106 victories, the 1942 Redbirds have been called the greatest Cardinal team of all time.

Jerome Mileur was just a kid from downstate Illinois, but he well remembers his view of one game from the left-field grandstand—and the thrill of attending the second game of the World Series. In this book, he brings a sure and loving grasp of his subject to reconstructing one of the most remarkable pennant drives in modern baseball history, with the Cards winning forty-three of their last fifty-one games and clinching first place on the last day of the season.

Mileur provides a game-by-game account of the season with play-by-play action, not only capturing all the thrills on the Cards’ way to the top but also conveying the physical and mental demands that the players endured. Counted out by nearly everyone but themselves in August, the Redbirds caught fire in the season’s final weeks to pass the seemingly unbeatable Dodgers. And by winning four games out of five to defeat the New York Yankees for the championship, they handed Joe DiMaggio his only World Series defeat.

More than a recapitulation of a thrilling season, Mileur’s book is a reminder of how major-league baseball in 1942 differed in so many ways from today’s game—one startling example is Mileur’s account of how the absence of outfield warning tracks contributed to a devastating injury to Brooklyn’s star outfielder, Pete Reiser. The tenor of the times is reflected as well in the juxtaposition of the baseball season with the United States’ first year in the Second World War.

The 1942 Cardinals were not only a remarkable team unto themselves but also the beginning of a new baseball dynasty—1942’s pennant was the first of three in a row for the Cards, as well as the first of three World Series victories in a space of five seasons. This account of that tremendous season is a page-turner for anyone who loves the game and a must-read for Cardinals fans.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Here’s a chance to relive that wonderful season of 1942. America was at war, but Franklin Roosevelt gave his presidential sanction for Major League Baseball to fiercely and shamelessly pursue its own specialized combat. Jerome Mileur’s writing mirrors the times and captures the spirit of a great Cardinals team. In a subtle way his narrative rekindles that era’s pride in being American and lures one to vicariously soak in the highs and lows of events on and off the field. I would insert only one more incidental item, which dates to sometime in the late 1950s, when my grandfather somewhat too casually said to me, “I wouldn’t mind if my epitaph read He had something to do with converting Musial from a pitcher.’”—Branch Rickey III, President, Pacific Coast League

"This is an interesting and important study of the Cardinals in 1942. They were a superb team, a world champion, and one that signaled the beginning of a new dynasty. This book offers a fine discussion of the ’42 season, giving a blow-by-blow account of each game. The subject matter of this work is both significant and timely."—Roger Launius, author of Seasons in the Sun: The Story of Big League Baseball in Missouri

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826218346
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 3/23/2009
  • Series: Sports and American Culture Series , #1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 700,502
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerome M. Mileur is the former owner of a Double A Eastern League professional baseball club in the cities of Holyoke, Massachusetts; Nashua, New Hampshire; and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, from 1982 to 1995.  He is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. 

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