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Country's mad dash wins it for St. Louis

Enos 'Country' Slaughter scores from first as the Cards beat Boston in the '46 Series.

Slaughter scores from first base in the 1946 World Series. [AP photo]

By BRUCE LOWITT

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 1999


It is probably the most famous mad dash in World Series history.

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Enos Slaughter spent 19 years in the majors and retired with a .300 batting average, but the 270 feet he covered on Oct. 15, 1946, defines him.

The St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox were tied 3-3 -- in games and on the scoreboard -- when Harry Walker came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning in St. Louis. Slaughter had led off the inning with a single to centerfield off pitcher Bob Klinger and had remained at first as Whitey Kurowski popped up and Del Rice flied out.

With Walker batting, Slaughter took off for second. Walker swung.

Cardinals star Stan Musial said, "Walker lined the ball over shortstop (Johnny) Pesky's head into left-centerfield . . ."

But the Associated Press report of the game described it this way: "Walker looped one out slightly to the left of second, and (centerfielder Leon) Culberson came in fast to take it. Actually it was no more than a single, though Walker was credited with a double after Slaughter made his remarkable sprint."

There is no disagreement about what Slaughter did. He flew past second and was approaching third when Culberson threw the ball to Pesky, who caught it near the edge of the outfield grass near his shortstop position.

"At first," the New York Times wrote, "it didn't seem possible that Slaughter could score on the hit, but the Carolinian they called "Country' ran as perhaps he had never run before."

Mike Gonzalez, the Cardinals third-base coach, put up the stop sign. Slaughter roared through it and headed home. "It would be close," Slaughter said, "but I knew I could make it. I had a good jump (off first). ... My chances were pretty good. I wanted to win the ballgame. I never, ever thought of holding up at third."

It did not occur to Pesky, the AP wrote, "that Enos was going for the big one. He started to toss to second to cut down Walker, which he could have done, and then too late saw his mistake and made a quick, startled throw to (catcher Roy) Partee at the dish."

It wasn't a very good throw, Musial said. "The ball sagged as ... Partee went out to meet it; at the same time a savagely sliding Slaughter crossed the plate, safely."

As the AP put it: "... any runner except a Cardinal would have pulled up at third."

The game wasn't won just yet. Rudy York and Bob Doerr singled to start the ninth, but Pinky Higgins forced Doerr at second, Partee fouled out and pinch-hitter Tom McBride hit a grounder to Red Schoendienst, whose underhand toss to shortstop Marty Marion ended the Series and engraved Slaughter in baseball lore.


-- Information from Baseball, An Illustrated History, was used in this report.

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