1945 St. Louis Browns
1945 St. Louis Browns / Franchise: Baltimore Orioles / BR Team Page
Managed by Luke Sewell
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1945 St. Louis Browns were the defending American League champions, following their unlikely pennant and defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1944 World Series. However, with World War II still ongoing as the 1945 season was about to start, they were saddled, like all other teams, with travel restrictions and personnel problems. As a result, spring training took place in Cape Girardeau, MO, where they had access to some indoor training facilities. What they did not have were suitable opponents, as only their farm team, the Toledo Mud Hens of the American Association, were around to play them.
The season started with the St. Louis city series against the Cardinals, in what was a rematch of the previous year's World Series. The Browns won a measure of revenge for their defeat a year earlier by prevailing, 4 games to 2, with all contests played at Sportsman's Park, which the two teams shared. Many of the previous season's key players were back in spite of the war, including SS Vern Stephens, 2B Don Gutteridge, 1B George McQuinn, CF Mike Kreevich, C Gus Mancuso and Ps Jack Kramer, Nels Potter and Sig Jakucki. One major addition was OF Pete Gray, MVP of the Southern Association the previous year. Gray, of course, had only one arm and his presence on the team was seen as a bit of a publicity stunt, event though he was coming off a string of solid seasons in the minor leagues.
Unfortunately for the Browns, they could not catch lightning in a bottle two years in a row. The team's deficiencies quickly became apparent, particularly its weakness with the bat, as the Browns struggled to a .249 batting average with only 63 homers, 24 coming from Stephens, the team's best offensive player by a landslide. Gray was a major disappointment, hitting only .218 and quickly losing his starting job, although Kreevich did little better, hitting .237 with no power. The mound crew was better, with the previous year's big three starters, complemented by Tex Shirley, Al Hollingsworth and Bob Muncrief, all pitching pretty well, keeping the Browns in a lot of low-scoring games. Potter was the ace of the staff, finishing at 15-11, 2.47. The season was far from a disaster, as the team finished with a positive record of 81-70, good for third place in the AL, but as soon as the league's other teams got many of their regulars back with the end of the war, the Browns' brief period of being competitive would be over.
Awards and Honors
- Roger A. Godin: "The Browns Get It Right: Winning the 'World Series' in 1945 as Pete Gray Debuts", The Baseball Record Journal, SABR, Volume 41, Number 2 (Fall 2012), pp. 61-64.