Year In Review : 1944 American League

Off the field...

After months of preparation, a military coalition of forty-five Allied divisions consisting of over three million soldiers began landing on Normandy Beach in France during one of the largest amphibious assaults ever conducted. Christened as "D-Day", June 6 th became the major turning point in the war against Nazi Germany. After three weeks of intense fighting, Allied troops captured all of the Normandy peninsula and port of Cherbourg. By the end of August, Paris was liberated, and the Allied forces continued on toward Germany.

German forces conducted a surprise attack known as "The Battle of the Bulge" against U.S. forces in Belgium. The Germans made rapid progress, but were unable to capture the city of Bastogne thanks to the extraordinary efforts of American GI's who were "dug in" and completely encircled. Although a coalition of U.S. and British infantry divisions were able to counterattack forcing the Germans to withdraw, they suffered massive casualties totaled at over 35,000.

In the Pacific Campaign, American forces landed on the island of Iwo Jima, seven-hundred fifty miles south of Tokyo in an effort to gain a strategic foothold on the enemy's Navy and establish airbases for future bombing campaigns. The invasion resulted in some of the fiercest fighting ever witnessed in WWII as Japanese soldiers, who fought to the death, heavily opposed the landings. U.S. Marines managed to take the beachhead and eventually pushed inland to overwhelm the defenders in a few days.

In the American League...

Converted from a pitcher, outfielder Johnny Lindell of the New York Yankees tied a Major League record on August 17 th after hitting four consecutive doubles against the Cleveland Indians during a 10-3 effort at Yankee Stadium.

Hal Trosky, a comeback player with the Chicago White Sox, stole home in the 16 th inning (to break a 2-2 tie) for a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Athletics on May 6 th . The feat was not duplicated for twenty years until Willie Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off the "same caper" in 1964.

Despite running a close race for first in the American League, the St. Louis Browns recorded the worst A.L. attendance on September 29 th with an embarrassing total of only 6,172 fans witnessing their sweep of a double header against the New York Yankees. The following day, attendance doubled to 12,982 as Dennis Galehouse pitched the entire game, winning 2-0 for his ninth victory of the year. Two days later, the Browns were tied with the Detroit Tigers and boasted their first sellout in over twenty years as 37,815 packed Sportsman's Park to watch their "forgotten" team clinch the pennant on the final day of the season.

In the National League...

On May 9 th , the New York Giants purchased one of the tallest players ever to play professional baseball, a six foot nine pitcher named Johnny Gee from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite a mediocre record of 5-8, he went on to split his limited season with a 2-4 record.

Red Barrett of the Boston Braves tossed a fifty-eight pitch shutout over the Cincinnati Reds on August 10 th for a 2-0 victory and a Major League record for fewest pitches in a nine-inning game. The outing itself set a record as the shortest night game ever at one hour and fifteen minutes.

One of baseball's worst franchises the Philadelphia Phillies attempted to induce public support by announcing a fan based contest to rename the team. Mrs. Elizabeth Crooks who was given a $100 war bond and a season ticket submitted the winning entry of "Blue Jays". Her entry, which would later end up on another team's uniform, was chosen over a number of monikers ranging from the Daisies to the Stinkers. The new name was used as the unofficial team title for 1944-45 but abandoned in 1946, though the team was still referred to in newspaper accounts as the "Blue Jays" occasionally through 1949.

Around the League...

Representatives from the top offices in both leagues met in New York City to discuss several new postwar policies and their effects on Major League Baseball. All parties agreed that all military deployments would count as playing time and any player who had served on active duty would be guaranteed thirty days of trial at pay and restrictions of their release or assignment.

Anticipating a positive change for race relations in the United States, the St. Louis Browns announced that they were officially dropping their "segregation policy" restricting African Americans to the bleachers while allowing them to purchase any ticket for any seat in the house.

The final survivor of baseball's original National Association (1871-75) John McKelvey died at the tender age of ninety-six. Retired for many years and living in Rochester, New York, McKelvey was the oldest member of Major League Baseball.

On October 4 th , the first all St. Louis World Series (dubbed the Streetcar Series) opened with the Browns beating the Cardinals 2-1. A Fall Classic of many firsts including no-days off, it was also the first Series in which all games were played west of the Mississippi River.

Baseball Almanac Top Quote

"After the war, the Browns were in good financial shape. Had no bills - whtn the DeWitts took over, they were known as some of the best paying people because you got a discount for paying cash and they usually took advantage of this." - Bill Borst in The Brown Stockings Fan Club (1985)

1944 American League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls
New York
97
Batting Average
Cleveland
.327
Doubles
Cleveland
45
Hits
New York
205
Home Runs
New York
22
On Base Percentage
Boston
.431
RBI
St. Louis
109
Runs
New York
125
Slugging Average
Boston
.528
Stolen Bases
New York
55
Total Bases
New York
297
Triples
New York
16
New York

1944 American League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games
Detroit
33
ERA
Detroit
2.12
Games
Cleveland
63
Saves
Philadelphia
12
St. Louis
Chicago
Shutouts
Detroit
7
Strikeouts
Detroit
187
Winning Percentage
Boston
.783
Wins
Detroit
29

1944 American League

Team Standings

St. Louis Browns 89 65 .578 0
Detroit Tigers 88 66 .571 1
New York Yankees 83 71 .539 6
Boston Red Sox 77 77 .500 12
Philadelphia Athletics 72 82 .468 17
Cleveland Indians 72 82 .468 17
Chicago White Sox 71 83 .461 18
Washington Senators 64 90 .416 25

1944 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls
Detroit
532
Batting Average
Boston
.270
Doubles
Boston
277
Hits
Cleveland
1,458
Home Runs
New York
96
On Base Percentage
Boston
.336
Runs
Boston
739
Slugging Average
New York
.387
Stolen Bases
Washington
127
Triples
New York
74

1944 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games
Detroit
87
ERA
Detroit
3.09
Fewest Hits Allowed
Philadelphia
1,345
Fewest Home Runs Allowed
Detroit
39
Fewest Walks Allowed
Philadelphia
390
Saves
Cleveland
18
Shutouts
Detroit
20
Strikeouts
St. Louis
581
baseball almanac flat baseball

baseball almanac fast facts

How amazing was the St. Louis Browns pennant? Author J. Roy Stockton wrote in The Gashouse Gang And A Couple Of Other Guys (1947), "When the St. Louis Browns started the 1944 season with nine straight victories, even their best friends laughed. People are like that. These well-wishers only knew that the Browns never had won a pennent in the long life of the American League. They figured the inevitable descent of the Browns, a time-honored feature of the league season, would be farther and harder than usual."

Some significant dates in 1944 included: May 10 - Mel Harder of Cleveland winning his 200th career game, June 6 - all Major League games were cancelled as the allied forces invaded France, and on October 1 the St. Louis Browns had their first franchise sold out game.

Nels Potter was NOT one of the pitchers allowed to continue throwing a spitball , and on July 20, 1944, he was caught by umpire Cal Hubbard using an illegal substance on the ball. Potter was fined and suspended for ten days.

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