The teams are set for the 2013 World Series. The St. Louis Cardinals will represent the National League. The Boston Red Sox will represent the American League.
This will be the fourth time these teams will meet in the Fall Classic. The past three meetings have been memorable for different reasons.
The first time the Red Sox and Cardinals met in the World Series was in 1946. The Red Sox ran away from the rest of the American League to claim their first pennant since 1918. Ted Williams was in his prime and playing the outfield for Boston. The Cardinals were back in the Series for the second time in three years. St. Louis had beaten their cross-town rival Browns in the 1944 World Series and - after the Chicago Cubs won the NL in 1945 - the Cardinals claimed the pennant by two games over the Brooklyn Dodgers. Stan Musial was in his prime and playing the outfield for the Cards.
The 1946 Series went to a seventh game. The Red Sox had a 3-2 lead after winning Game Five at home. But, the Cardinals evened the series with a 4-1 win in Game Six at home. St. Louis had a 3-1 lead in Game Seven, but Dom DiMaggio doubled in a pair of runs to tie the game with two outs in the top of the eighth.
Enos Slaughter singled to start the bottom of the eighth inning, but was still at first with two outs. He was off with the pitch to Harry Walker and scored from first base on a routine hit to medium left-center. If you watch the video, Slaughter caught the Red Sox defense by surprise by heading for home.
The first two Red Sox singled to start the top of the ninth and had runners at first and third with one out. But, St. Louis held on for the 4-3 win in the game and the 4-3 win in the Series.
Williams was injured heading into the series, but refused to use that as an excuse despite going 5-for-25 with no homers and only one RBI in seven games. Musial was just 6-for-27, but had three doubles, a triple, drove in four runs, and scored three runs.
Harry Breechen was the pitching star for the Cardinals. He appeared in three games - two as a starter - and went 3-0. He allowed one earned run over 20 innings. Breechen came on in relief in Game Seven and gave up the double to DiMaggio that allowed the inherited runners to score and tie the game. But, give the guy a break. He had thrown a complete game two days earlier in Game Six.
The Red Sox would not make it back to the World Series until 1967. The Cardinals - and this guy by the name of Bob Gibson - would be waiting for them. The Red Sox, who had finished in ninth place in 1966, won the AL pennant with a win on the final day of the 1967 season to edge out Detroit and Minnesota by a game. The Cardinals won the NL by 10-1/2 games over San Francisco. Musial was no longer playing for St. Louis, but he was their General Manager.
The Red Sox were the big underdogs, but they had taken a song from Man of La Mancha, a play that had opened in 1965, as their battle cry. That song was The Impossible Dream.
They trailed the Cardinals three games to one, before getting a 3-1 win in Game Five at St. Louis behind a single by Elston Howard in the top of the ninth to score two huge insurance runs and a complete game by Jim Lonborg.
Boston won Game Six back home at Fenway Park in a game that was closer than one would expect with four Red Sox home runs. Rico Petrocelli hit a pair of homers - including an inning where he, Carl Yastrzemski, and Reggie Smith all went deep. But, Boston needed a four run seventh inning to break a 4-4 tie and go on to an 8-4 win.
Game Seven featured Gibson for the Cardinals against Lonborg for the Red Sox. Both were making their third start of the series, but it was the first meeting between the two in the Series. Game Seven at Fenway Park was on October 12. Lonborg had tossed his complete game win in Game Five on October 9. Gibson had last pitched on October 8 in St. Louis.
Gibson had a 2-0 lead when he went to the plate in the top of the fifth and hit a home run for a 3-0 lead. The Cardinals pushed that lead out to 7-1 before eventually winning the game 7-2 at Fenway. Click that link and see if you recognize the narrator of the Game Seven highlights.
Gibson struck out 26 over 27 innings as he pitched three complete games and allowed just three earned runs. The man came back from a broken leg late in the season to take the mound in some very important games and dealt. Yastrzemski, who is in the Hall of Fame with Gibson, tried to drag the Red Sox over the finish line, but his 10-for-25 (.400) with three homers, two doubles, and five RBI weren't enough. The amazing thing for Yaz was that he only struck out once in the entire series.
The other time the Red Sox and Cardinals met in the World Series was in 2004. The Red Sox made it there after rallying from a 3-0 deficit in ALCS against the Yankees. St. Louis did some rallying of their own in the NLCS as they came back from a 3-2 deficit in the series to beat Houston in Game Six (6-4 in 12 innings) and Game Seven (5-2).
Boston was still looking for its first World Title since 1918. They had been back twice (1975 and 1986) since 1967. The Cardinals had made it back to the World Series in 1968, 1982, 1985, and 1987 with just one win out of those trips.
If you look at the history of the teams in the World Series and each of their World Series visits, all of those Fall Classics went a full seven games. Surely, these two scrappy teams would go the distance in a World Series for the ages.
But, the Red Sox had other ideas in 2004 and another theme song.
In Game One, Mark Bellhorn broke a 9-9 tie with a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Boston an 11-9 win.
In Game Two, Bellhorn doubled in two more runs in the middle of the game for a 4-1 lead and that was enough for Curt Schilling. Boston won 6-2 and had a 2-0 Series lead heading to St. Louis with Pedro Martinez set to go against Jeff Suppan in Game Three.
Manny Ramirez homered in the top of the first as the Red Sox went on to build a 4-0 lead in the first five innings against Suppan. That was more than enough for Martinez. He worked seven scoreless innings and the Red Sox won 4-1 as they closed in on ending the Curse of the Bambino.
Johnny Damon started the game with a home run off Jason Marquis. Trot Nixon doubled in two more runs in the top of the third inning and the Red Sox had a 3-0 lead. Derek Lowe tossed seven shutout innings and the Red Sox bullpen shut down the Cardinals the rest of the way.
Keith Foulke was the final of a trio of Boston relievers and he got Edgar Renteria to ground back to the mound for the final out of the 2004 World Series.
The Red Sox will have home field advantage in the 2013 World Series. I'm looking forward to seeing how these two teams make history this time.