After a season in which he ranked among the National League leaders, no one would have figured Cardinals ace Mort Cooper would do better as a hitter than as a pitcher in the 1942 World Series.
Cooper, who led the NL in wins (22), shutouts (10) and ERA (1.78) and placed among the top two in strikeouts (152), starts (35) and innings pitched (278.2), started Games 1 and 4 of the 1942 World Series against the Yankees.
To the surprise of most, the right-hander posted an 0-1 record and 5.54 ERA in those two games.
However, in Game 4, Cooper delivered a two-run single off starter Hank Borowy and scored a run, contributing to a 9-6 Cardinals triumph and putting the Yankees on the brink of elimination.
In the ninth inning, Cardinals reliever Max Lanier, who got the win, produced a RBI-single off Tiny Bonham, the Yankees’ 6-foot-2, 215-pound pitcher.
Pitchers with pop
With the run-scoring hits from Cooper and Lanier, the 1942 Cardinals are one of five teams that have had two pitchers produce RBI in a postseason game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
_ Jack Bentley and Hugh McQuillan for the Giants versus the Senators in Game 5 of the 1924 World Series.
_ Lefty Gomez and Johnny Murphy for the Yankees versus the Giants in Game 6 of the 1936 World Series.
_ Steve Avery and Mike Stanton for the Braves versus the Pirates in Game 2 of the 1992 NL Championship Series.
_ Kyle Hendricks and Travis Wood for the Cubs versus the Giants in Game 2 of the 2016 NL Division Series.
Cooper was the losing pitcher in the 1942 World Series opener on Sept. 30. He yielded 10 hits, three walks and five runs in 7.2 innings.
After the Cardinals won Games 2 and 3, manager Billy Southworth opted to start Cooper in Game 4 at Yankee Stadium on three days’ rest on Oct. 4 rather than Lanier, a 13-game winner who hadn’t yet appeared in the 1942 World Series.
Lanier, a left-hander, had made 20 starts for the 1942 Cardinals, but he was 5-0 with a 1.25 ERA in 14 relief appearances that season.
The Yankees led, 1-0, in Game 4 before the Cardinals scored six runs in the fourth. Stan Musial opened the inning with a bunt single. The Cardinals took the lead on Whitey Kurowski’s two-run single and Cooper, who batted .184 with seven RBI during the regular season, increased the advantage to 4-1 with his two-run hit.
“Cooper found an outside pitch to his liking and blooped a single to right that sent (Johnny) Hopp and Kurowski home and moved (Marty) Marion to third,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Run-scoring hits by Terry Moore and Musial capped the inning and gave the Cardinals a 6-1 advantage.
Cooper, though, couldn’t shut down the Yankees. He surrendered five runs in 5.1 innings.
Cooper “went into the classic too tired to show at his best,” wrote columnist Dan Daniel in The Sporting News. “After he had been batted out of the first game, he decided that his troubles traced to his fastball. When again he encountered the Bombers (in Game 4), he tried to get by on his curve and it was nothing much. He just didn’t have it.”
Fortunately for the Cardinals, Lanier, who followed Cooper and relievers Harry Gumbert and Howie Pollet, pitched three scoreless innings for the win.
The Cardinals clinched the title with their fourth consecutive victory in Game 5.
“About my only regret was that the Yankees did not see the real Mort Cooper,” Southworth said. “In Mort’s first game, he just wasn’t sharp. He was too careful. In his second start, he should have had another day’s rest. I was to blame. But Mort wanted to go and I admit I wanted him to. I should have waited another day.” Boxscore