Skip to content

1946, 1967, 2004 and 2013: The Sox and Cards do battle again

Oct 21, 2013, 8:55 AM EDT

Slaughter Mad Dash

While I’m sure many Red Sox fans were looking forward to a rematch of the 1916 World Series with the Brooklyn Robins (what, you don’t remember that?), the Red Sox are matched up with their historically most familiar World Series rival: the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s the fourth matchup between these storied franchises. They met in the days of Williams and Musial, of Gibson and Yaz and of Ortiz and Molina. Now they meet in, er, the days of Ortiz and Molina.

Obviously what happened in 1946, 1967 and 2004 has nothing to do with what will happen this year, but let’s take a walk down memory lane at the three past St. Louis-Boson Fall Classics:

1946: Slaughter’s Mad Dash

Here’s one familiar thing: in 1946 the Cardinals beat out the Dodgers for the pennant and the Sox beat out the Tigers. One difference: the base running here was way, way better than anything we saw from Prince Fielder the other night. Indeed, one of the most famous base running plays of all time occurred in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 7 of this series when Cardinals outfielder Enos Slaughter scored from first base on a Harry Walker double. Slaughter was running with the pitch and, well, just watch:

Slaughter ignored his coach’s stop sign at third base and kept running. Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky either clutched or brain-locked or, well, something, and hesitated throwing home for a second before gathering himself and rushing his throw to the plate.  Slaughter’s run made it 4-3, which would be the final score and which would give the Cardinals the World Series.

Stan Musial and Ted Williams were the big stars here, but neither would ever see the World Series again. The Cards wouldn’t win another pennant until 1964. Boston wouldn’t return to the Fall Classic until 1967. But when they did, it was to face a familiar foe.

1967: The Impossible Dream Deferred

The Cardinals were in the middle of a mini-dynasty, the Sox were dreaming an Impossible Dream. World champs in 1964, the 101-Cardinals had just won their second of three pennants in the 1960s. The Sox, on the other hand, experienced their first winning season in nine years. And it wasn’t some “they finally got over the top” kind of thing either. In 1966 and 1965 they finished in ninth place out of ten AL teams. In the five seasons before that they were eighth, seventh, eighth, sixth and seventh. The Sox really came out of nowhere and — once again — beat out the Tigers in a legendary pennant race which came down to the last day.

The Sox were led by triple crown winner Carl Yastrzemski, who did his part, batting .400 while hitting three homers in the series. The Cardinals ace Bob Gibson, however, was too much to overcome. Gibson struck out ten batters in Game 7 and added a home run of his own. He tossed a complete game too — his third of the series — but that was just what aces did back then, right?  The Cardinals’ win gave them their eighth World Series title.

St. Louis would be back to try for nine the very next year. The Sox wouldn’t be back until 1975. Then 1986. Then, as the 90s and early 2000s wore on, their playoff legacy began to morph from one in which “Impossible Dreams” were dreamt into one of only nightmares. But then 2004 happened, and the “sad sack Sox” cliche would be banished for good.

2004: Breaking the Curse

I feel like hindsight has made the 2004 Red Sox into some dominant Team of Destiny. The team which Broke the Curse and which exemplified a decade dominated by titanic battles between the high-payroll Sox and Yankees. Meanwhile, I feel like that same hindsight has transformed the Cardinals into some sort of sacrificial lamb which meekly and unquestionably played its role in banishing 86 years of Boston demons.  The fact that the Sox easily swept this series just bolsters this meme.

Except that really wasn’t the meme at all at the time. The Cardinals won 105 games in 2004 and were led by the most dominant hitter on the planet in Albert Pujols. The Sox, meanwhile, were the AL wild card winners, having finished three games back of the Yankees. Sure, they were seen as the second strongest team in the AL — the Angels and Twins weren’t exactly scaring anyone back east — but after a devastating 2003 ALCS loss and a 2004 ALCS win which seemed more the product of divine providence than dominance, the Sox’ 2004 championship was not thought of as a foregone conclusion at all. Indeed, this felt more like the Impossible Dream Redux.

Of course it turned out differently. The Cardinals didn’t hold a lead in any of the Series’ four games. The Sox played sloppy baseball for the first couple of games and won anyway. Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe dominated Cardinals bats in Games 3 and 4 and that, as they way, was that.

2013: The Titans Meet Again

The Cardinals would win the World Series two years later. The Sox would win it again the season after that. St. Louis would get yet another championship in 2011. Neither of these teams have been strangers to winning for most of the past decade, and even though there are only two remaining players from the 2004 series — David Ortiz and Yadier Molina — both of these teams feel more like continuations of quasi-dynasties than Impossible Dreams or winners of any kind of Mad Dash.

This is no underdog story. Check your “no one believed in us” propaganda at the door. It’s the best vs. the best. Two massively popular teams with passionate fan bases. Two teams near the top of baseball’s historical marquee meeting, once again, for a World Series title.

Here’s hoping for even more history.

Latest Posts
  1. Garrett Richards underwent surgery to repair his left knee

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

    Garrett Richards Garrett Richards

    Garrett Richards had surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, meaning he’ll be out between six and nine months.

  2. MLB.tv’s blackout restrictions could be over in 2015

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    old TV

    The frustrating blackout restrictions could come to an end as early as 2015, according to Maury Brown of Forbes.

  3. Felix Hernandez reaches 200 strikeouts for a sixth consecutive season

    Aug 22, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

    Felix Hernandez Felix Hernandez

    Felix Hernandez has struck out 200-plus batters in each of the last six seasons, something no other starting pitcher will have done when the season is over.

  4. Mike Minor loses his no-hit bid with two outs in the eighth

    Aug 22, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT

    Mike Minor Mike Minor

    Mike Minor is on point in Cincinnati against the Reds on Friday night.

  5. Giants aren’t ready to take Buster Posey out from behind the plate yet

    Aug 22, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT

    Buster Posey Buster Posey

    The Giants don’t have any plans to move Buster Posey out from behind the plate just yet, even though his numbers are much better as a first baseman.

  6. Dodgers moving Triple-A affiliate from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City in 2015

    Aug 22, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT

    dodgers logo

    The Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate will reportedly move from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for the 2015 season.

  7. Kyle Lohse to rejoin Brewers’ rotation on Monday

    Aug 22, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT

    Kyle Lohse Getty Images

    Kyle Lohse was dealing with a sore right ankle, but is expected to rejoin the Brewers’ rotation on Monday to start against the Padres.

  8. Manny Machado to undergo season-ending knee surgery

    Aug 22, 2014, 6:33 PM EDT

    manny machado o's getty Getty Images

    Manny Machado’s season is likely over, as he is expected to undergo season-ending knee surgery within a week, according to a report.

  9. The Angels may have trouble getting starting pitching on waivers

    Aug 22, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    Bartolo Colon Bartolo Colon

    According to Peter Gammons, the Orioles and Yankees are “claiming everyone” on waivers, which will make it difficult for the Angels to improve their starting rotation after losing Garrett Richards.

  10. Javier Baez hit the ball really far again, trails only … Mandy Brooks?

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT

    Javier Baez Getty Getty Images

    His latest, a solo shot off Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman.

  11. A’s send Dan Otero back to Triple-A with 7-1 record, 2.28 ERA

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Dan Otero A's AP

    Sometimes the life of a player with a minor-league option remaining just isn’t fair.

  12. Albuquerque Isotopes to give away Joc Pederson’s 1994 Buick Century

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:36 PM EDT

    Buick Century

    One window doesn’t work and there is no air conditioning. It has 166,000 miles on it. Which, actually, isn’t that bad. Hmmm . . .

  13. A’s activate Craig Gentry from the disabled list

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:19 PM EDT

    Craig Gentry A's AP

    Oakland’s outfield depth just got a little stronger with Craig Gentry coming off the disabled list after missing the past month with a broken hand.

  14. HBT Daily: it’s showdown time for the Angels and A’s

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:57 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    Seven games in ten days for the AL West leaders

  15. No timetable for Manny Machado’s return to the Orioles

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT

    manny machado o's getty Getty Images

    Machado suffered a sprained right knee on August 11 and the Orioles have mostly been using Chris Davis at third base in his absence.

  16. The Cubs grounds crew was short staffed because the Cubs were trying to avoid Obamacare

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:49 PM EDT

    cubs logo

    This has been such a fun story so far. So why NOT throw politics into it?

  17. Robinson Cano: “I don’t have any regrets” about leaving Yankees

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT

    Robinson Cano AP

    Robinson Cano has a $240 million contract, his new team has a better record than his old team, and he’s hitting .329 with an .865 OPS that’s slightly above his career mark.

  18. Adam Loewen is a pitcher again

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT

    New York Mets Photo Day Getty Images

    Can he make it to the bigs on a new path for a third time?

  19. Twins GM on manager Ron Gardenhire: “He’ll be back”

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    ron-gardenhire-twins AP

    If any team is going to keep a manager after four straight 90-loss seasons the Twins are the one to do it.

  20. Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to sign with the Red Sox for $72 million

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT

    Rusney Castillo Getty Getty Images

    The Red Sox paid a lot of money to get this guy. Expect him in the Sox’ outfield early next season.

Featured video

Can Angels recoup loss of Richards?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (4893)
  2. M. Cuddyer (2545)
  3. K. Bryant (2321)
  4. G. Richards (2001)
  5. W. Myers (2000)
  1. H. Ramirez (1956)
  2. D. Ortiz (1946)
  3. A. Cashner (1829)
  4. J. Hamilton (1826)
  5. A. McCutchen (1784)