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. Statcast: A deeper look at Joe Panik’s amazing double play from Game 7

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT

    Joe Panik AP AP

    Giants second baseman Joe Panik started a key double play in Game 7. Here’s a deeper look at how it went down.

  2. Diamondbacks exercise options on Daniel Hudson, Matt Reynolds

    Oct 30, 2014, 9:47 PM EDT

    diamondbacks logo

    The Diamondbacks announced this evening that they have exercised club options on right-hander Daniel Hudson and left-hander Matt Reynolds for 2015.

  3. Padres decline $4 million option on Josh Johnson

    Oct 30, 2014, 9:01 PM EDT

    San Diego Padres Photo Day Getty Images

    Johnson missed the entire 2014 season after the second Tommy John surgery of his career.

  4. Game 7 of the 2014 World Series was the second-most watched MLB game since 2004

    Oct 30, 2014, 8:13 PM EDT

    Giants celebrate AP AP

    The early television ratings for this year’s World Series were pretty low, but the Giants and Royals ended up going the distance and we witnessed a very compelling Game 7 last night. It turns out that a lot of folks tuned in to see what the fuss was all about.

  5. 2014 Fielding Bible Award winners announced

    Oct 30, 2014, 7:24 PM EDT

    Lorenzo Cain Getty Getty Images

    The Fielding Bible Awards are back. And they have an interesting wrinkle this time around.

  6. Orioles pick up options on Wei-Yin Chen, Darren O’Day; decline on Nick Markakis, Nick Hundley

    Oct 30, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT

    orioles logo

    The Orioles announced their option decisions earlier this evening and there wasn’t a surprise in the bunch.

  7. Dan Haren exercises $10 million player option to stay with Dodgers

    Oct 30, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT

    Dan Haren Getty Getty Images

    Haren’s option vested when he reached the 180-inning mark in September, but he had the ability to decline it and test free agency. However, he has decided to stick around.

  8. Brewers exercise $13 million option on Yovani Gallardo

    Oct 30, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT

    Cincinnati Reds v Milwaukee Brewers Getty Images

    Gallardo posted an ERA above 4.00 last season for the first time in his career, but bounced back to throw 192 innings with a 3.51 ERA this year at age 28.

  9. Angels pick up Huston Street’s option for 2015

    Oct 30, 2014, 5:22 PM EDT

    Huston Street Angels AP

    Street saved a career-high 41 games this season.

  10. Koji Uehara gets $18 million to stay with the Red Sox

    Oct 30, 2014, 5:07 PM EDT

    Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Getty Images

    Overall in two seasons with the Red Sox he threw 139 innings with a 1.75 ERA and 181/17 K/BB ratio.

  11. Athletics name new hitting coach, bullpen coach

    Oct 30, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT

    Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics

    The A’s opted to stay internal in replacing Chili Davis.

  12. Nationals exercise Denard Span’s option for 2015

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Denard Span Getty Images

    After a disappointing first season in Washington he bounced back to hit .302 with 31 steals and a .771 OPS, leading the league with 184 hits.

  13. Kevin Youkilis opts for retirement at age 35

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:31 PM EDT

    Boston Red Sox Kevin Youkilis bats against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston

    The Greek God of Walks retires to Olympus. Or maybe Ohio.

  14. Cardinals exercise John Lackey’s $500,000 option

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    John Lackey Getty Getty Images

    He’ll play for the minimum salary at age 36.

  15. 10 nominees for Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee announced

    Oct 30, 2014, 2:07 PM EDT

    minoso

    Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva and Ken Boyer are among those back on the 2014 ballot.

  16. Yankees interested in Raul Ibanez … as a coach

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:49 PM EDT

    Division Series - Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees - Game Three Getty Images

    New York has not hired a replacement for fired hitting coach Kevin Long yet and they also have an opening at first base coach after letting Mick Kelleher go.

  17. Phillies decline 2015 option on Mike Adams

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

    Adams threw 44 innings in two seasons for the Phillies.

  18. What’s in store for the Royals this winter?

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:49 PM EDT

    Dayton Moore, Ned Yost Dayton Moore, Ned Yost

    A look at the tough calls the Royals will have to make following their World Series run.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. H. Pence (2145)
  2. M. Morse (2099)
  3. Y. Cespedes (2033)
  4. J. Panik (2007)
  5. M. Moustakas (1975)