As sketchy Internet rumor has it, the Cardinals and Red Sox will meet in the 2013 World Series. These are, of course, two old-time line, classic teams with famously devoted fan bases. So it's worth noting that the Cards and Sox have met on three previous occasions in the Fall Classic. Most recently, of course, was 2004. While that encounter was notable because the Red Sox wound up hoisting the trophy for the first time since 1918, it was a sweep and, thus, not exactly rippling with high intrigue.
With that said, the two previous Sox-Cardinals clashes -- first in 1946 and then in 1967 -- do stand as certifiable classics of the genre. So with an eye toward Game 1 of the 2013 World Series on Wednesday in Boston, let's have a quick look back at the '46 and '67 editions, which proved that the Sox and Redbirds are capable of playing some white-knuckled, high-stakes baseball against one another ...
The 1946 World Series
In '46, Joe Cronin's Red Sox, paced of course by Ted Williams in his first season back after serving in World War II, went 104-50 and and won the American League pennant by 12 full games over the Tigers. Stan Musial's Cardinals, meantime, ended the regular season tied with the Dodgers. Only after prevailing in a best-of-3 tiebreaker -- the first in major-league history -- did the Cardinals claim the pennant.
The Sox barged to a 2-1 lead in the series thanks largely to some excellent starting pitching. However, the Cardinals battered Boston 12-3 in Game 4 to even the count. The Sox won Game 5 to move back in front, but the Cardinals pulled even in Game 6 and forced a deciding Game 7 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis.
In that Game 7, the Cardinals held a 3-1 lead until Boston, thanks to a clutch, two-out double by Dom DiMaggio in the eighth, tied the score. The critical play of the game, the series and even the season came in the home half of the eighth, when Cardinals outfielder Enos Slaughter, in a bit of daredevil base-running, managed to score from first on a Harry Walker double -- a double that could have easily been scored a single. Here's what soon became known as "Slaughter's Mad Dash" ...
According to many -- but not all -- accounts, Slaughter ran through the stop sign of Cardinals third base coach Mike Gonzales. As Slaughter would recount years later, he ran through the sign with the sanction of his manager, Eddie Dyer:
"In an earlier ballgame, Mike Gonzales stopped me on a bad relay throw and Eddie Dyer told me from then on if there were two men out and I thought I had a legitimate chance to score to go ahead and gamble and he'd be responsible for it. That's one of the reasons I went all out for home plate."
The score held, as in the top of the ninth reliever Harry Brecheen recorded the final three outs after putting the first two Boston batters on base. The Cardinals had won the World Series for the third time in five years.
The 1967 World Series
In the '67 regular season, the Cardinals, three seasons removed from a championship in 1964, won 101 games and took the pennant by 10 1/2 games over the Giants. The Red Sox's path could not have been more different. In '66, the Sox lost 90 games and finished ninth in the 10-team AL. In '67, though, the "Impossible Dream" Red Sox under Dick Williams won 92 games and edged the Tigers, Twins and White Sox for a berth in the World Series, thanks in large measure to Carl Yastrzemski's Triple Crown season.
In Game 1, Bob Gibson owned the Sox. Game 2, though, belonged to Boston, as Yaz homered twice and Jim Lonborg took a no-hitter into the eighth. The Sox then fell behind 3-1 in the series before charging back to win Games 5 and 6.
In the objective and human sense, it's a good thing that the Red Sox prevailed in Game 6. Why? Because Capt. Lawrence O'Brien of Somerville, Mass. really, really, really deserved to see his Sox win ...
There's paying the price of admission, and then there's paying the price of admission ...
Anyhow, in the seventh and deciding contest at Fenway, Gibson on three days' rest dueled with Lonborg, who was going on only two days' rest. The St. Louis ace struck out 10, hit a home run and tossed his third complete game of the series en route to a 7-2 win. The blow-by-blow ...
For the Cardinals, it was their eighth championship. For the Sox, they wouldn't get another shot until 1975, which, in keeping with their 1919-2003 history, promised yet another devitalizing failure. So it would be until ... 2004 against the Cardinals
Even though this brief retrospective has been devoted to the hotly contested World Series between the Cardinals and Red Sox, this hasn't been entirely fair to the Boston rooters in our midst. So in order to make amends ...
Outcomes notwithstanding, here's hoping the tension and sprawl of the 2013 World Series more closely resemble those of 1946 and 1967.