This article was written by Alan Cohen
The Brooklyn Dodgers, who had won 11 in a row between May 5 and May 16, 1945, had fallen on hard times. They went on a six-game losing streak, the last three of which were the first three games of the four-game set in St. Louis. The Dodgers’ futility at the Cardinals’ home field had been pronounced. Dating back to the prior season, they had lost 12 in a row there.
In the Saturday night finale to a four-game series between the Dodgers and Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park, Brooklyn was looking to salvage at least one game from St. Louis before moving on to Chicago for a Sunday doubleheader against the Cubs. To allow the Dodgers to get a modicum of rest and catch a midnight train to the Windy City, it was agreed that no inning would commence after 11:00 P.M.1
Manager Leo Durocher handed the ball to rookie right-hander LeRoy Pfund (1-0), whose first win had come earlier in the month. The devoutly religious youngster, who had it written into his contract that he would not pitch on the Sabbath, had his start moved up one day and was available for the Saturday night assignment. Durocher had threatened wholesale lineup changes to put some life into his team,2 but his only changes were to insert Frenchy Bordagaray at third base in place of Bill Hart, and Stan Andrews behind the plate in place of Mickey Owen.
An announced crowd of 10,784 was in attendance, but owing to a large contingent of servicemen in attendance, the paid figure was 7,600.3
Brooklyn struck early and often en route to an 11-2 win that ended the six-game slide and broke a second-place tie with the Cardinals. The Dodgers barrage included 16 hits, five for extra bases. The Cardinals needed eight hits to score their two runs and never mounted a serious threat.
In the top of the first inning, the Dodgers put up four runs and never looked back. Second baseman Eddie Stanky led off the game with a fly ball that was mishandled by Cardinals left fielder Dave Bartosch. New York Times sportswriter Roscoe McGowen, in the next day’s edition, recounted what happened next: “Goody (Rosen, the Dodger center fielder) whacked his third homer (of the season) into the deep right-center field bleachers and Augie Galan followed immediately with his No. 4 – a prodigious belt into the tower high atop the right-field pavilion.”4
The Dodgers were ahead 3-0 before an out had been registered by St. Louis starter Ted Wilks, who had entered the game with a 2-3 record. Wilks retired Dixie Walker and Luis Olmo but Brooklyn was back in business when Bordagaray singled, stole second, and went to third as the catcher’s throw went into center field. Mike Sandlock’s infield single, the first of his three hits in the game, scored Bordagaray and prompted a pitching change. Blix Donnelly entered the contest and Sandlock quickly stole second base. With pitcher Pfund in the on-deck circle, the Cardinals elected to give an intentional walk to Stan Andrews, and Donnelly retired Pfund on a fly ball to center field. Sandlock’s three hits increased his batting average to .367.
Pfund retired the first 10 Cardinals batters he faced, striking out two, and the Dodgers took a 4-0 lead into the fourth inning. A walk to Stanky, a double by Rosen (his second extra-base hit of the game), and a walk to Walker loaded the bases for Luis Olmo, the Dodgers’ left fielder. Olmo cleared the bases with his second grand slam of the season.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Cardinals reached Pfund for a pair of singles, but the runners, Debs Garms and Buster Adams, were left stranded as Brooklyn took an 8-0 lead to the bottom of the fourth and found another pitcher to victimize.
Harry Brecheen took over the pitching for the Cardinals in the top of the fifth inning and Andrews greeted him with his only career triple in 149 at-bats. Pitcher Pfund was up next and helped his own cause (as if help were needed) with a single that plated Andrews. It was the first of four RBIs in his first and only major league season. When Pfund tried to stretch his hit into a double, he was gunned down by Cardinals right fielder Debs Garms. Pfund returned to the mound in the bottom of the inning and worked his way out of trouble after surrendering singles to Del Rice and Emil Verban, striking out the last two batters he faced in the stanza.
Pfund lost his shutout in the sixth inning. Garms and Adams singled and Garms scored on a fly ball off the bat of Whitey Kurowski. The Dodgers got the run back in the seventh inning when Walker singled in Stanky, who had opened the inning with a walk. There was no further scoring until Adams solved Pfund in the bottom of the eighth inning. As McGowen noted, “Adams came up with two out in the eighth and exploded his sixth homer of the year among the left-field spectators, but that was all.”5
The Dodgers concluded the scoring in the ninth inning. Stanky walked for the third time in six plate appearances and came around to score his fourth run of the game, and his team’s 11th, on a fly ball by Walker.
After a leadoff single by Del Rice leading off the Cardinals’ ninth, Pfund retired the next three batters, striking out pinch-hitter Johnny Hopp for the final out of the game. He was credited with his second win of the season. This would be his only season in the majors. His record for the season was 3-2 with an ERA of 5.20.
The game was over in 2 hours and 14 minutes, and the Dodgers made their train to Chicago. En route, at 1:00 AM, they munched on the after-game meal.6
During the four games in St. Louis, Dodgers Goody Rosen and Augie Galan feasted on Cardinals pitching. Rosen batted .625 with 10 hits to raise his season’s average to .366, and Galan’s eight hits raised his average for the season to .314.
The country was still at war, but the end was in sight. Eighteen days before the game, on May 8, 1945, hostilities had ended in Europe, and the war in the Pacific would end less than three months after the game. Some of those who participated in this game would not see significant action in the majors once the players returned from the war in 1946.
Only nine men played in the game for the Dodgers on May 26. Three would not be in the major leagues in 1946.
Stan Andrews, who saw limited action behind the plate with the Dodgers, played his first of 21 games with Brooklyn on May 26 and was put on waivers in early August. He finished with the Philadelphia Phillies, and 1945 was his last major-league season.
Mike Sandlock, who went 3-for-5 in this game, would move behind the plate on July 5, as Eddie Basinski held down the position at shortstop pending the return of Pee Wee Reese. Sandlock would be sent to the minors after appearing in 19 of the Dodgers’ first 70 games in the 1946 season and play in the minors through 1952. He returned to the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1953 to catch Johnny Lindell’s knuckleball.
For the Cardinals, 1945 was the last hurrah for four players who were in the game on May 26.
Dave Bartosch, whose first-inning error led to the first Dodgers run, played in the major leagues only in 1945. However, he was a presence in the Cardinals organization for many seasons, and was an area scout as late as 1979. He continued as a scout with the Cubs and later the Padres, with whom he scouted through 1992.8
Debs Garms, who scored the first Cardinals run, was in the last year of his 12 major-league seasons. He had a .293 career batting average.
George Fallon, who started the game at shortstop and went 0-for-1 before being lifted for a pinch-hitter, played all but four of his 133 career major league games during the war years.
Augie Bergamo, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Fallon, played only in 1944 and 1945, and had a composite batting average of .304 for the two seasons. In 1969 he was one of the players mentioned in “Van Lingle Mungo.” In addition to him and Bordagary, Harry Brecheen and Augie Galan were also mentionned in the song.
After the game on May 26 the Dodgers were in second place, 6½ behind the league-leading Chicago Cubs. The Cardinals were in third, a game behind Brooklyn. The next season the two teams would battle it down to the wire as the Cardinals won the pennant and went on to win their sixth World Series. The Dodgers would have to wait for 1947 to return to the World Series for the first time since 1941.
This article originally appeared in “100: The 100 Year Journey of a Baseball Journeyman, Mike Sandlock” (SABR, 2016), edited by Karl Cicitto
In addition to those sources cited in the endnotes, the author used Baseball-Reference.com.
1 Harold C. Burr, “Dodgers Get Four off Cards in First,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mary 27, 1945: 21
2 Author Interview with LeRoy Pfund, September 10, 2015.
3 Roscoe McGowen, “Dodger Home Runs Rout Cards by 11-2,” New York Times, May 27, 1945, S1-S2.
7 Bill Nowlin (editor). Van Lingle Mungo: The Man, The Song, The Players, (Phoenix, SABR, 2014).
8 “Bullpen” in Baseball-Reference.com