An effective combination of quality and depth in the starting rotation enabled the 1941 Cardinals to win their first 12 road games. That streak remains the franchise record for most road wins in a row.
Eight different Cardinals pitchers accounted for those 12 consecutive road wins. Ten of those wins were achieved by starters, including eight complete-game efforts.
Mort Cooper earned three of the dozen road wins. Lon Warneke and Max Lanier had two apiece. Five Cardinals pitchers each got a win during the road streak: Johnny Grodzicki, Sam Nahem, Howie Krist, Hank Gornicki and Ernie White.
The streak was achieved in two parts _ from April 15-17 and from April 26-May 5 _ in five cities. Of the dozen road wins, three were accomplished at Cincinnati against the Reds, two at Chicago against the Cubs, three at New York against the Giants, two at Philadelphia against the Phillies and two at Boston against the Braves.
Sweeping the champs
The 1941 Cardinals opened the season on April 15 at Cincinnati against the defending World Series champion Reds. Ernie Koy, Enos Slaughter and Johnny Mize each hit a home run and the Cardinals won, 7-3. Warneke, who pitched a complete game, yielded 10 hits, but walked none and was helped by a defense that turned three double plays. Boxscore
In the second game of the series on April 16, Cooper pitched a five-hitter and the Cardinals won, 4-2. With the score tied at 2-2 in the ninth, Jimmy Brown hit a two-run, two-out double off Johnny Vander Meer. Boxscore
Another ninth-inning rally enabled the Cardinals to complete the series sweep on April 17. With the Reds ahead 6-5, Slaughter scored from third base with the tying run on a Bob Logan wild pitch. Marty Marion walked and scored the go-ahead run on a triple by Frank “Creepy” Crespi.
In the bottom of the ninth, reliever Hersh Lyons, making his debut in what would be his only big-league appearance, loaded the bases with one out. Lanier replaced him, induced two groundouts without allowing a run to score and was credited with the win in a 7-6 Cardinals triumph. Boxscore
The Sporting News hailed the Cardinals for a “sensational three-in-a-row start in Cincinnati.”
From there, the Cardinals went to St. Louis for a six-game homestand with the Cubs, Pirates and Reds. The Cardinals won three of those games, giving them a 6-3 record as they embarked on a 14-game road trip to six cities.
The journey began on April 26 at Chicago with a 6-2 Cardinals victory over the Cubs. Lanier started and pitched a two-hitter for the win. Mize and Marion each drove in two runs for the Cardinals. Boxscore
The Cardinals completed the two-game series and earned their fifth consecutive road win with an 8-5 victory over the Cubs on April 27. Cooper got the win, even though he yielded four walks and eight hits, including a three-run home run by Bill “Swish” Nicholson. Slaughter had three RBI and the Cardinals compiled 13 hits. Boxscore
After a day off, the Cardinals began a three-game series at the Polo Grounds in New York.
In the opener on April 29, the Giants scored three runs in the first two innings off Bill McGee. Johnny Grodzicki, making his fourth big-league appearance, relieved, pitched six innings and limited the Giants to a run on three hits. He got the win when the Cardinals rallied and prevailed, 5-4. Boxscore
On April 30, Sam Nahem, acquired a year earlier in the trade that sent slugger Joe Medwick to the Dodgers, made his second Cardinals start, pitched eight innings and got the win in a 6-4 Cardinals triumph over the Giants. Slaughter and Mize each hit a home run. Boxscore
The Cardinals extended their road win streak to eight with a 5-0 victory over the Giants on May 1. Warneke pitched the shutout, even though he surrendered nine hits and a walk. The Giants stranded nine. Brown and Marion each hit a two-run home run for the Cardinals. Boxscore
Warneke’s gem was the start of a dominant stretch for Cardinals pitchers. In the last five road wins of the streak, the Cardinals yielded a total of four runs.
On May 2 at Philadelphia, the Cardinals beat the Phillies, 4-2. Howie Krist, in his first start of the season, pitched a five-hitter for the win. He held the Phillies scoreless for the first eight innings. Boxscore
The Cardinals got their 10th consecutive road win in a most unexpected manner. Hank Gornicki, 30, made his first big-league start and pitched a one-hitter in a 6-0 Cardinals triumph over the Phillies on May 3. Stan Benjamin broke up the no-hit bid with a single in the sixth. Boxscore
Boston was the next stop for the Cardinals.
On May 4, the Cardinals beat the Braves, 3-1. Cooper got the win, shutting out the Braves over the last six innings. The Cardinals scored all of their runs in the eighth, with Cooper’s brother and batterymate, Walker, contributing one of the RBI. Boxscore
The 12th consecutive road win for the Cardinals was a 5-1 victory over the Braves on May 5. Ernie White, making his first start of the season, pitched a five-hitter. Slaughter hit a two-run home run for St. Louis. Boxscore
In The Sporting News, Dick Farrington wrote, “When a team can win away from the friendly surroundings of its home playgrounds, it is always considered a rather definite sign of class and fiber.”
On May 6, the road win streak ended at Boston. The Braves scored all of their runs in the fifth off Grodzicki, making his final appearance of the season for St. Louis, and won, 5-4. The Cardinals had 11 hits and received seven walks, but stranded 13. Boxscore
The 1941 Cardinals finished in second place in the National League at 97-56, 2.5 games behind the Dodgers. The Cardinals were 44-32 on the road and 53-24 at home.