The Pittsburgh Press (October 3, 1944)
Cooper to face Potter in opener tomorrow; figures support Birds
By Leo H. Petersen, United Press sports editor
St. Louis, Missouri –
The Cardinals, perennial champions so far as this city along the banks of the Mississippi is concerned, came back to Sportsman’s Park today as the betting favorites for the 1944 World Series, but they found that their hometown had gone all out sentimentally for the rags-and-riches boys of Luke Sewell.
The facts and figures supported the betting odds, but they didn’t take into consideration the fighting heart of the American League Champion Browns.
For in the seven-game series that decides the gold and glory, past performances can be written off the record books and, if an old baseball tradition is borne out, the Browns will be the team to beat.
They are going into the series the “hot” club. They battled the Tigers right down to the wire – the final day of the season – before they won their first American League title, while the Cardinals coasted to their third consecutive National League pennant.
The pressure on the Browns has been heavy – but they have been winning and the Cardinals in the past month have looked like anything but the pre-war ball club they were in piling up such an early lead that their pennant drive was never in doubt.
Maybe Manager Billy Southworth can get his horde of stars back on the victory trail, for the cold statistics showed them superior to the Browns in almost every department of the game. But it was a sure bet that there was another department in which they might tie the Browns but never beat them – and that was fighting heart.
Never before has a team with such few established major leaguers as the Browns even won a league pennant. All season long, no matter what the odds were against them, they came up with championship pitching from a staff that had no champions, hitting from batters who were strictly so-so at the plate, and fielding from fielders who had never been better than mediocre.
National Leaguers – and a lot of American Leaguers, too – felt that the Browns have been playing over their heads. They figured that the fighting spirit which carried them into baseball’s top ranks, after years and years in the poorer brackets, may have been good enough for a league championship but would probably fall short when World Series chips are riding.
While the Browns were sentimental favorites, St. Louis was taking its two champions in stride. Fans here have been used to Cardinals victories, but Brown triumphs have been something the town has been waiting for since the American League began operations in 1902.
Now they have it – but they aren’t too concerned about it. Hotels are sold out, tickets are going at scalper prices running as high as $50 for a box seat. Speculation is rife on the possible starting pitchers for the opener, but there was little to upset the even tenor of the ways of a war-boom town. While sellouts for little Sportsman’s Park were assured for as many games as will be necessary to decide the championship, there have been no rip-roaring celebrations, nothing to upset the blasé St. Louis fans.
Neither Southworth nor Sewell would say definitely who their starting pitchers would be tomorrow, but the assignments probably will go to Morton Cooper, the strong-armed righthander of the Cards, and Nelson Potter, a bargain basement pitcher whose clutch hurling kept the Browns in the running when they appeared out of the championship picture after kicking away a seven-game mid-August lead.
No Brownie injuries
Sewell had no injuries to worry about. His only problem was to keep his club keyed up to the pitch that carried it through one of the gamest stands a team has ever made.
But the situation was different with Southworth. His hitting star, Stan Musial, was recovering from injuries; his southpaw pitching ace, Max Lanier, was trying to shake off a late-season slump which saw him knocked out of the box seven times in as many starts, and outfielders Danny Litwhiler and Johnny Hopp were doubtful starters. Litwhiler has a bad knee, Hopp a bad back. The chances were both would play and that Southworth would try Lanier in the second game against Jack Kramer. There wasn’t much doubt but that the other starting pitchers would be Ted Wilks and Harry Brecheen for the Cardinals and Denny Galehouse and Sig Jakucki for the Browns.