St. Louis Cardinals Won the First Real Playoff Series Against Brooklyn in 1946

Harold FriendChief Writer INovember 25, 2011

One game was at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. The other game was at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.

The 34,124 fans were in high spirits, as their St. Louis Cardinals were leading the third place Chicago Cubs 2-1. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Mort Cooper of the fourth place Boston Braves was shutting out the Dodgers 4-0.

The Cards were tied with the Dodgers for first place.

The date was Sept. 29. 1946, the last day of the season. It was one of the few times that the Cardinals didn't win a game they had to win.

The Boston Braves beat the Dodgers. It was a very good thing, because the Cubs rallied in the sixth inning for five runs. They scored two more in the eighth on their way to an 8-3 win over St. Louis.

For the first time in major league history, there was a tie for the pennant.

The best-of-three series opened in Sportsman's Park on Oct. 1. A disappointingly small crowd of 26,012 fans attended the game.

The Cardinals sent left-hander Howie Pollet to the mound to face Brooklyn's Ralph Branca, who would become a household name five years later in another Brooklyn Dodgers' playoff series.

Under a cloudless sky on a warm autumn day, Branca struck out Red Schoendienst and Stan Musial in the bottom of the first of the scoreless game, but in between the two future Hall of Famers strikeouts, Terry Moore singled to left.

Enos Slaughter kept the inning alive when he singled between first and second. Whitey Kurowski walked to load the bases. Joe Garagiola was the batter.

The left-handed hitting catcher sent a sharp ground ball to the left of third baseman Cookie Lavagetto. Shortstop PeeWee Reese backhanded the ball, leaped into the air and fired a strike to first, but it was an eyelash too late.

Who drove in the first run in the history of the playoffs? We're talking about the real playoffs, before the need for playoffs was created by divisional play. 

It was Joe Garagiola.

Brooklyn tied the game on a Howie Schultz home run in the third. Schultz drove in Brooklyn's other run on a seventh-inning single.

The Dodgers' problem was that the Cardinals scored two runs in their half of the third on a walk and three singles. They scored their fourth and final run in the seventh for 4-2 victory.

The second game was played in Brooklyn on Oct. 3, 1946. Five years later, in a game at the Polo Grounds, Oct. 3 would become a day of mourning for Brooklyn.  It wasn't too happy a day in 1946 either.

Murray Dickson held the Dodgers to one run over eight innings. The run came in the first inning to give Brooklyn a short-lived 1-0 advantage.

After the Cards scored once to tie the game, Dickson belted a triple to give the Cardinals a lead they never would relinquish. But they almost did.

Trailing 8-1 in the bottom the ninth inning, Brooklyn wouldn't give in.

Augie Galan doubled. Dixie Walker hit a harmless fly ball to center field for the first out, but Ed Stevens tripled, Carl Furillo singled and Dickson's wild pitch moved him to second.

Reese walked.

Guess who came in to pitch? It was Harry "the Cat" Brecheen.

Bruce Edwards greeted "the Cat" with a single to left to score Reese, making the score 8-4. Cookie Lavagetto walked to load the bases. The potential tying run was at the plate.

Brecheen struck out Eddie Stanky and Howie Schultz.

The Cardinals had their ninth pennant in 20 years.



By JOHN DREBINGER Special to The New,York Times. (1946, Sep 30). 34,124 at st.louis see cubs win, 8-3. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. 38. Retrieved from

By JOHN DREBINGER Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1946, Oct 02). Cardinals defeat dodgers in opening game of play-off series for pennant. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. 35. Retrieved from

By JOHN DREBINGER The New,York Times. (1946, Oct 04). Cords win pennant, defeatinb dodgers again for two-game play-off sweep. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. 17. Retrieved from