1946: Major League Baseball’s 1491

The 1946 season doesn’t get the credit it deserves. (via Baseball Digest)

Along the meandering trail of baseball history, particular seasons stand as milestones, as points of crucial interest. There’s 1869, when the Red Stockings of Cincinnati suited up as the sport’s first overtly professional club and took the country by storm. There’s 1876, the first year of the National League, and there’s 1903, the first year in which the National and the upstart American Leagues agreed to peacefully co-exist and staged their first World Series.

There’s 1920, when Judge Landis became the first commissioner, when Babe Ruth arrived in New York, and the long-ball-hitting “live ball” era was launched. And 1930, when the live ball was nuclear-grade. There’s 1961, the first modern expansion year and Roger Maris’ not-actual asterisk. And then we have 1968, the infamous “Year of the Pitcher,” and 1973, which introduced the designated hitter.

And, most definitely, there’s 1947. This is, of course, the season in which Jackie Robinson boldly took the major league field, and the sport’s implacable edifice of racial segregation began to crumble at last. Indeed, in recent decades something of a consensus has emerged that due to the profound impact integrated rosters would have on both the quality of major league play and on the sport’s engagement with national and international cultural diversity (a wave still roiling), it makes sense to consider the birth of “modern” major league baseball as having occurred in 1947. Among the milestone years, this one holds particular prominence.

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And 1947 was a memorable season not just because of the landmark appearance of the intrepid Robinson (and in his wake, by mid-summer, Larry Doby, Hank Thompson, and Willard Brown). It was a wild year in many ways. During spring training, flamboyant Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher, before he could write Robinson’s name on the Opening Day lineup card, was suspended for the season by Commissioner Happy Chandler as penance for, among other unseemly things, too-openly consorting with mobsters and gamblers. And it was in 1947 that the New York Giants, an otherwise unremarkable fourth-place club, spent the season noisily blasting home runs (earning themselves the nickname “The Windowbreakers”) and obliterated every record for team dingers.

The 1947 World Series was a fiery showdown between Robinson’s dashing Dodgers and the ever-fearsome New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers would prevail, but it went seven frantic see-saw games and featured a no-hitter broken up by a ninth-inning, come-from-behind, game-winning, two-run pinch-hit double, as well as a sensational over-the-fence game-saving catch by a utility outfielder so obscure it would be the last putout of his brief big league career. Dodgers radio broadcaster Red Barber’s high-energy call of that play became an instant classic: “Swung on, belted…it’s a long one…back goes Gionfriddo, back, back, back, back, back, back…heeee makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen! Ohhh, Doctor!” The ‘47 season was altogether so rollicking and action-packed that years later Barber would write a terrific book about it, entitled 1947: When All Hell Broke Loose in Baseball.

The 1947 campaign well deserves the attention it attracts. But by focusing the spotlight on that particular year, we tend not to see anything else around it. We especially tend to ignore what happened just before it. If 1947 is the glamorous headlining star of its period, then 1946 is the forgotten chorus member hidden in the back row, never catching a break.

That’s a shame, because 1946 deserves better than that. Sure, 1947 was the slam-bang first act in the pageant of what was to come, but that means 1946 was the grand finale in the epic drama of what had been, bringing the curtain down on a long and vivid pre-modern saga of triumphs and sorrows. Nineteen-forty-six is to 1947 in baseball history as 1491 is to 1492 in world history: routinely overlooked, but when finally seen, exhibiting a depth and brilliance all its own. It was a hell of a show.

So, let’s shift the spotlight, just for now. Nineteen-forty-six, you’re on!

The Venerable Foundation

The most striking aspect of major league baseball in 1946 was how little had changed in nearly half a century. Certainly, each and every player was still “white” (as arbitrarily defined by the dominant culture), but that was far from the only way the business in 1946 was conducted precisely as it had been for more than four decades. There were still 16 big league teams, and they were exactly the same 16 teams the National and American Leagues had fielded every season since 1903.

There were the Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees in New York. There were the Braves and the Red Sox in Boston, the Phillies and the Athletics in Philadelphia, the Cubs and the White Sox in Chicago, and the Cardinals and the Browns in St. Louis. As in 1903, these five multi-team cities accounted for more than two-thirds of the sport’s franchises. As in 1903, the remaining single-city entries were the Washington Senators, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, and Cincinnati Reds.

As in 1903, no team was situated west of the Mississippi River, the three southernmost outposts (Washington, Cincinnati, and St. Louis) were all just barely below the Mason-Dixon Line, and the entire footprint of the enterprise spanned just a bit over 1,000 miles.

This compact arrangement meant the primary means of transportation for major league teams still was the railroad. Beginning in the 1930s, a few teams had occasionally hired an airplane, but that had been more of a stunt than an operational change. Indeed, it was in 1946 that the Yankees would become the first team to fly on a regular basis (in a state-of-the-art Douglas DC-4 leased from United Airlines and dubbed “The Yankee Mainliner”), but not everyone was enthusiastic about it; four Yankee players chose to stick with the train, and that wasn’t a problem because planes still weren’t that much faster than trains.

Not only were the train stations comfortingly familiar, so were the ballparks. Of the 14 stadiums in use (in Philadelphia and in St. Louis, both teams shared a single venue), 12 were more than 30 years old. The most modern were 23-year-old Yankee Stadium and 13-year-old Cleveland Municipal Stadium (the latter among the first truly modern sports venues in that it was a multi-purpose structure built with public funds). The vast majority of games presented in 1946 took place during the day; night baseball had been introduced in the 1930s, but it was still something of a “special,” never staged on a weekend or a holiday, and the idea of the All-Star Game or a World Series game under the lights was inconceivable. Moreover, in three of the 14 ballparks in 1946 (Boston’s Fenway Park, Detroit’s Briggs Stadium, and Chicago’s Wrigley Field), night games were never staged at all, because lights had yet to be installed.

Fans queuing up at the stadium box office in 1946 would encounter one thing unpleasantly new: Ticket prices in nearly every ballpark were up considerably, as the teams anticipated pent-up demand with the end of World War II. (At its peak in 1945, the United States military had more than 12 million members in service. Approximately three-quarters would be demobilized by the end of 1946.) Sixty cents was the new standard fare for the bleachers, $1.25 for general admission, and a whopping $2.50 for a box seat. If there was anything left in your pocket, you could get a soda pop for a dime, a hot dog for two bits, or really splurge for a beer at 35 cents. The beer would not be a craft-brewed double-hopped IPA. You could not buy a white wine, nor a bottle of water, nor an order of nachos, with or without extra jalapeños. But you could rent a seat cushion for a nickel.

Fans opting to stay home usually could catch the game on the radio, as every team in 1946 was broadcasting at least most of its games. However, the networks of stations carrying the games were still small and tightly localized, and road games were still commonly covered via in-studio re-creations off a telegraph feed. There were no fully national radio broadcasts, even of the World Series, because the far-flung network infrastructure we take for granted today was not yet built. And while an occasional game had been presented via television, that technology remained obscure, mostly a novelty for hobbyists, and not yet a standard offering anywhere.

The Peace Dividend

What made 1946 an unusual season was the happy challenge of re-integrating the many players who’d been absent due to military service.[i] And by “many,” we mean a whole lot: There were 71 players with prior major league experience who missed the 1942 season, 219 in 1943, 342 in 1944, and 384 in 1945. Every team had been hit hard: The St. Louis Browns lost the fewest, with “only” 19, while the Philadelphia Athletics contributed the most, at 36. To help accommodate the returning hordes, for the 1946 season major league rosters were expanded: The standard 40-man total roster was enlarged to 48, and the midseason active roster, normally set at 25, was stretched to 30, with final “cut-down day” moved back from mid-May to June 15.

Accordingly, every team undertook an extraordinary rate of player turnover, frantically trying out different lineup combinations and freely indulging in mid-game substitution. Typically in that era, a ball club would navigate the entire season while deploying about 35 players, but in 1946, the major league average of players used per team was 43, with two teams (the Braves and Indians) deploying 48 each, and two others (the Giants and Phillies) 49.

The intense competition for playing time and roster spots was abnormally stressful for most players, given that the great majority would end up without a job, and they knew it. Moreover, even for those who would make that harrowing cut, the huge glut of labor available to fill such a small number of openings gave all the salary negotiation leverage to ownership. This created an atmosphere in which many players were suddenly open, as never before, to an offer to pursue their athletic career in a new and exotic locale.

South of the Border

Just as professional baseball had rapidly developed in the United States over the first half of the 20th century, so it did throughout the Caribbean region, if perhaps a decade or two behind the continental U.S. in terms of relative scale and impact. Certainly, by the 1930s and ’40s, baseball was huge in much of Latin America, particularly in Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. But the enterprise remained largely localized and decentralized, and though the most baseball-centric country was Cuba, neither there nor elsewhere did any single league emerge as the single most stable and “major” in Latin America.[ii]

Jorge Pasquel endeavored to change that. He was the eldest son of a wealthy shipping magnate in Veracruz, Mexico. In 1925, when Pasquel was 18, the fully professional Mexican League had been founded. In keeping with locally focused custom, it was stocked almost entirely with native Mexican players.

But soon Pasquel, along with his younger brothers, purchased ownership of the Veracruz franchise as well as minority stakes in others. By the late 1930s, following Pasquel’s leadership and heavy investment, the league successfully began to recruit expatriate stars from the U.S. Negro Leagues and from Cuba. World War II interrupted things, but by 1946 Pasquel, now league president, was ready and eager to launch the Mexican League into the big time.

Through the winter and early spring months of that fateful year, Pasquel and his representatives openly and brazenly courted countless major and minor league ballplayers in the U.S., as well as top stars in other Caribbean leagues. The U.S. players were contractually forbidden by the Reserve Clause to accept any offers, but as an “outlaw”–unaffiliated with the National Association, otherwise known as “Organized Baseball”–Pasquel’s Mexican League paid no heed. He was well-capitalized and apparently willing and able to spend whatever he wished, and that became the driving force.

Pasquel wanted everyone he could get, and he reportedly made “blank contract” offers to the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Stan Musial, and Ted Williams. Alas, he could persuade no superstar to jump his way. But he would find success with several lesser-paid big leaguers.

Before spring training of 1946 was over, the Mexican League had signed not just a half-dozen Latin-born major league players (pitchers Alex Carrasquel and Adrian Zabala, outfielders Bobby Estalella, Luis Olmo, and Roberto Ortiz, and infielder Nap Reyes), but also a handful of prominent gringos: from the Dodgers, veteran first-string catcher Mickey Owen; from the Giants, starting second baseman George Hausmann, starting left fielder Danny Gardella and starting pitcher Sal Maglie; and most interestingly, from the Browns, star shortstop Vern Stephens.

Greatly alarmed, in late March Commissioner Chandler announced that any stray player who failed to report to his U.S. team within 10 days would be banned from Organized Baseball for five years. Stephens decided to return, just under the wire, claiming his Mexican sojourn had been but a bluff. He then re-signed with the Browns for a big raise. But all the others named above stayed south, willing to accept the U.S. ban in exchange for fat new Pasquel-funded paychecks.

And it didn’t stop there. With full awareness of Chandler’s edict, in late April Giants star reliever Ace Adams said, “adios,” and in late May, the Cardinals lost three regulars to the call of Pasquel: All-Star southpaw Max Lanier, starter-reliever Freddie Martin, and starting second baseman Lou Klein.

Those would be the final defections. Over the course of the 1946 season, reports filtered back that perhaps everything wasn’t quite so sunny down in Old Mexico. There were shabby playing conditions and dodgy accommodations, as well as the big question of Pasquel’s capacity to fulfill his lavish contract obligations, given that growth in Mexican League attendance wasn’t keeping up with increased expenses. In 1947 and ’48, Jorge Pasquel’s ambitious Mexican League scheme would fall apart. The banned U.S. players straggled away from Mexico to become outlaw-league nomads, and several of them (most notably Gardella) sued Major League Baseball in objection to the ban on constitutional grounds. In 1949, fearing this legal challenge to the Reserve Clause, MLB would settle with every banned player and permit their return.

Insolidarity

By no means was professional baseball the only American workplace sent reeling by the impact of demobilization. Labor disputes, stoppages and strikes were rampant across nearly every industrial sector in 1946. It was in this fractious environment that Robert Murphy, a Boston labor lawyer consulting with the National Labor Relations Board, declared that baseball players should organize and collectively bargain for a fairer stake.

In the spring of 1946, Murphy proposed the American Baseball Guild, with himself as director, with the vision of “a square deal for players, the men who make possible big dividends and high salaries for shareholders and club executives.” Among the negotiating points he proclaimed were a minimum major league annual salary of $7,500, the right to arbitration in contract disputes, and one-half of the purchase price awarded to the player when his contract was sold. In addition, Murphy issued a vaguely worded complaint about the one-sided nature of the standard player contract, which could be interpreted as a long-term goal of eliminating the Reserve Clause.

Murphy made the rounds of spring training camps and successfully persuaded some players to join the Guild, with dues set at 50 cents per week. But for the Guild to have any clout, everyone understood the credible threat of a strike was essential. Murphy needed not just individual players here and there but the solidarity of at least one team in support of the Guild.

He chose the Pittsburgh Pirates as his test case, reasoning that Pittsburgh was a strong union town likely to present favorable public opinion. Both the steel workers’ and coal workers’ unions had struck in Pittsburgh in early 1946. Murphy spent weeks making contact with every Pirates player and believed he was taking strides toward convincing a majority to vote to become a union shop. But he needed more than a simple majority; a supermajority of two-thirds would be necessary to seal the deal.

The date of decision was Friday, June 7. Minutes before a night game against the Giants, in the Pirates’ clubhouse at Forbes Field, a closed-door players-only meeting was held, the question debated, and a vote taken. As the final roster cut-down deadline of June 15 was still a week away, there were 36 active players on that Pittsburgh roster. If at least 24 voted to go union, the plan was for the team to refuse to take the field and forfeit the game in a show of force. Murphy anxiously waited outside.

The most fervent anti-union voice in the tense clubhouse was sounded by veteran pitcher Rip Sewell. His oratory was persuasive to 15 of his teammates: though the vote tally was 20 in favor of the Guild and 16 against, it fell short of the two-thirds requirement. The players rushed out of the clubhouse to the field, and none had the graciousness to say a word to Murphy. He was crushed, and the Guild was delivered a mortal blow.

Many in the Pittsburgh grandstand booed their home team for refusing to back the Guild, and another of the vocal anti-unionist Pirates, infielder Jimmy Brown, was roughed up in the parking lot following the game. Sewell would be presented with a gold watch by Chandler. It would not be until 1953 that the Major League Baseball Players Association would be formed, and that union would remain weak until the hiring of Marvin Miller as executive director in 1966.

Play Ball

So major league baseball in 1946 was in a peculiar mood of confusion and distraction. The one thing most everyone involved wanted, to be simply back to normal, to have everything as it was before the awful war, proved elusive.

The quality of play presented in 1946 was unquestionably superior to that of the core wartime seasons of 1943, ’44, and ’45, when erstwhile minor leaguers were subbing for the hundreds of players away in military service. But it wasn’t quite yet “back to normal,” as much of the regular season resembled an extended spring training, with players shuffling in and out of games and on and off rosters. Many who’d emerged as standout performers during the war were humbled by the tougher level of competition and consumed unproductive playing time while management struggled with remedies. Moreover, many former standout players returning from service were unsurprisingly rusty, and some would never regain their form.

Whether this uneven quality of performance serves to explain it or not, among the other things 1946 failed to deliver was an immediate return to the pre-war level of hitting and scoring. Through the war years, material shortages forced the leagues to use an inferior quality of baseball, the widely derided “Balata Ball,” that yielded a resiliency comparable to that of the old-time “Dead Ball.” As a consequence, power-hitting production was way down during the war, and with it rates of scoring runs.

With the return of modern live baseballs, it was sensible to expect a return to the kind of high-action, long-ball hitting to which fans were accustomed. But it didn’t happen. Teams in 1946 scored just about exactly four runs per game, essentially the same low rate that had prevailed in 1942-45. There was a slight uptick in the rate of home runs in ‘46, but it wasn’t back to the pre-war level, and with it came low overall batting averages and a record rate of strikeouts.[iii]

If the still-timid hitting disappointed fans, they sure didn’t reflect it in their level of support. Twelve of the 16 big league franchises set attendance records in 1946, most of them by overwhelming margins. Overall combined attendance buried the previous high by nearly 70 percent. Whatever was happening in 1946, it was happening in front of far bigger crowds of fans than ever before, readily springing for their buck-and-a-quarter grandstand seats, while ownership giddily banked revenues never before imaginable.

The Best of the Best

Cleveland ace Bob Feller had been a sensational strikeout king before the war, of course, but as the ’46 season progressed, he was outdoing himself. At the All-Star break–in those days placed almost exactly at the actual midpoint of the regular season–Feller was 15-5 in 20 starts (19 of them completed), with a 1.90 ERA and 190 strike-threes in 180 innings. At the urging of owner Bill Veeck, Indians manager Lou Boudreau rode Feller even harder over the second half, sending him out for 22 more starts (17 completed) plus five relief appearances. As his exhaustion mounted, Feller’s strikeout rate slowed and his walk rate climbed, but he remained brilliantly effective (2.45 ERA in 191 second-half innings), and his final tally of 348 strikeouts was hailed as having set the “modern” (since 1900) major league record.[iv]

Yet Feller’s heroics gained him but sixth place in the American League Most Valuable Player balloting, because his Cleveland teammates stumbled to a dreary sixth-place finish in the standings. Well ahead of Rapid Robert in the MVP tally was a fellow pitcher, young Tigers southpaw Hal Newhouser. “Prince Hal” proved to be one of the few wartime stars who rose with aplomb to the higher standard of post-war competition, as he tied Feller for the major league lead with 26 wins and also led the majors with a dazzling 1.94 earned run average while racking up 275 strikeouts of his own. Newhouser had claimed back-to-back MVP awards in 1944 and ’45, but this time around he had to settle for being runner-up, just as his Detroit ball club was finishing in second place.

The Tigers were second behind the runaway Boston Red Sox, who were led by the MVP winner, Ted Williams, shrugging off his three-year layoff to hit with his signature fury: a .342 batting average and 38 home runs while drawing 156 bases on balls. The Thumper’s dead-pull slugging was so destructive that it was on Sunday, July 14, 1946, with two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the third inning of the second game of a doubleheader at Fenway Park, that Boudreau’s Indians deployed what would be dubbed the “Boudreau Shift” against him, flooding the right side with defenders and leaving only left fielder George Case to cover that half of the field. (Boudreau was desperate: In the first game, Williams had gone four-for-five with eight runs batted in, and in his first time up in the second game he’d doubled.)

Extreme shifts of this sort have become commonplace today, but it was considered bizarre at the time. For his part, Williams laughed, took his normal cut, and grounded out to playing-manager shortstop Boudreau himself, positioned somewhere on the short right field grass.

But perhaps the most memorable moment for Williams in 1946 was his All-Star Game home run against our friend Rip Sewell’s “blooper” lob pitch, the only homer anyone would ever hit off the “Eephus.”

The powerful Red Sox–capturing their first flag since 1918, when Babe Ruth was their ace pitcher–were matched in the World Series against the dynamic St. Louis Cardinals, whose 1946 Fall Classic appearance was their fourth in five years. But unlike the BoSox, who breezed through a wire-to-wire cakewalk, the ’46 Cardinals sweated through an amazingly close season-long dogfight with the still-lily-white Brooklyn Dodgers.

The Cards and Dodgers were so evenly matched that from July 14 through the season’s end–a 78-day period–on only one day was the margin between them greater than two-and-a-half games, and on 13 of those days they were in a flat-footed tie for first place. It turned out that one of those tie days was the final day of the regular season, and so it was that in 1946 the National League staged the first tie-breaker playoff in the history of major league baseball.

The format was best two-out-of-three, with the opener at Sportsman’s Park on Tuesday Oct. 1, and then a travel day before finishing in Brooklyn. Alas, the playoff was anticlimactic, as the Cardinals won back-to-back games fairly easily, 4-2 in St. Louis (behind a complete-game performance by ace Howie Pollet) and 8-4 at Ebbets Field, eliminating the need for a third.

The pennant-winning Redbirds were paced by their own superstar and MVP, Stan Musial, who like Williams seemed not to have gotten the memo that this was supposed to be another low-scoring year. Stan the Man hit a blistering .365 in 1946, with no fewer than 50 doubles and 20 triples. Thus, the World Series was understandably anticipated to feature a heavy-hitting showdown between the two great young batsmen.

But it was not to be: Musial wasn’t too bad, delivering four doubles and a triple, but just one single, adding up to a non-Musial-ish .222 batting average, and Williams–dogged by a minor elbow injury he steadfastly refused to acknowledge as an excuse, and perhaps bedeviled by a modified version of the Boudreau shift devised by Cardinals’ manager Eddie Dyer–was just bad, contributing a mere five singles and just one run batted in over seven games.

Yet seven games the Series went, and though it turned out to be a low-scoring affair, it was a tightly-contested, back-and-forth showdown. The teams went to St. Louis for Game Six with the Red Sox ahead three games to two, but Cards’ southpaw Harry “The Cat” Brecheen stifled the Sox 4-1 with his second dominant complete-game victory of the Series. It set up one of the all-time best Game Sevens.

The Cardinals took a 3-1 lead into the top of the eighth. But with two on and two out, Boston’s fleet-footed center fielder Dom DiMaggio delivered a game-tying double. But, fatefully, he pulled a hamstring while running it out and had to be replaced by journeyman Leon Culberson.

In the bottom of that eighth inning, again with two outs, the Cardinals’ Enos “Country” Slaughter was on first base and Harry “The Hat” Walker at bat. With a two-and-one count, Dyer called for Slaughter to take off on a hit-and-run, and Walker sliced a sinking liner into left-center for a base hit. Slaughter steamed around second and into third, and then, what-the-hell, ignored the stop sign of third base coach Mike Gonzalez and sped for home, do-or-die.

Observers agreed that a crisp relay would have nailed the reckless Slaughter at the plate. But a crisp relay wasn’t what the Red Sox executed: Culberson was ponderous in retrieving the ball and sending it to shortstop Johnny Pesky, and Pesky was hesitant in relaying it to the plate, and in any case his throw was weak and off-line. Slaughter scored all the way from first on a hit that was charitably scored a double. The Cardinals took a 4-3 lead.

In the top of the ninth, against none other than Brecheen in relief, the Red Sox led off with back-to-back singles. But Harry the Cat then retired the bottom of the Boston lineup one-two-three, and the 1946 World Series belonged to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Meanwhile that summer, playing for the Montreal Royals of the International League, one Jack Roosevelt Robinson hit .349 and stole 40 bases. The future beckoned, and the past, despite its eternal obduracy, would be forced to surrender.

Footnotes

[i] Two former big leaguers sacrificed their lives in battle. Elmer Gedeon, an outfielder who’d sipped a cup of coffee with the Senators in 1939, was a bomber pilot whose B-26 was shot down in France in April of 1944, and Harry O’Neill, who’d appeared as a catcher in a single inning for the Athletics in ’39, was a Marine Corps lieutenant killed by a sniper on Iwo Jima in March 1945. At least 137 additional players with strictly minor league experience gave their full last measure of devotion.

[ii] A distinct difference between the development of professional baseball in Latin America and that of the mainland U.S. was that it was only north of the border that the teams and leagues were strictly racially segregated.

[iii] In 1947, hitting and scoring would in fact rebound to rates comparable to the immediate pre-war seasons and remain strong for several years. Their shape, however, would be increasingly modern: fewer singles, doubles, and triples and more home runs, walks and strikeouts.

[iv] At the time, it was believed Philadelphia A’s great Rube Waddell had recorded 344 strikeouts in 1904. No one had ever bothered with research to verify that total, since no pitcher had ever remotely threatened it, so Feller’s 348 was understood by everyone, most certainly including himself, to have surpassed it. Feller’s closing kick to beat Waddell’s mark was heroic indeed: In the season’s final 11 days, he made four complete-game starts, plus one five-inning relief appearance, recording 33 strikeouts in 41 innings, including five in his final start to triumphantly advance from 343 to 348. Alas, the painstaking late-1960s original-source research directed by David Neft, to create the original MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia, would credit 349 strikeouts to Waddell, thus leaving Feller a poignant lone strikeout behind. Sandy Koufax fanning 382 in 1965 and Nolan Ryan topping that with 383 in 1973 took some of the sting out of Feller’s disappointment.


Steve Treder has been a co-author of every Hardball Times Annual publication since its inception in 2004. His work has also been featured in Nine, The National Pastime, and other publications. He has frequently been a presenter at baseball forums such as the SABR National Convention, the Nine Spring Training Conference, and the Cooperstown Symposium. When Steve grows up, he hopes to play center field for the San Francisco Giants.