Schechter: The 1942 Dodgers: dress rehearsal for disaster

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on August 17, 2017:

Most baseball fans can give you the gist of the historic collapse of the 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers, who led the National League by 13 games on August 11 and somehow frittered it all away before the New York Giants delivered the coup de grâce on Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ’Round the World.” Nearly forgotten, however, is the dress rehearsal for the famous 1951 nightmare—staged by the 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers, who enjoyed a 10-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals on August 5 yet failed to claim the pennant.

The main reason the 1942 pennant race is forgotten is that the entire baseball season unfolded in the darkening shadow of World War II, so it got relatively little national attention. During that first full year of United States involvement in the war, many of the game’s biggest names were absent from the playing field. The Dodgers and Cardinals were relatively unscathed in that regard, and with the overall level of competition diminished, the two contenders had amassed 210 victories between them.

In addition, what happened in 1942 could hardly be called a collapse by the Dodgers.

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Originally published: August 18, 2017. Last Updated: August 18, 2017.