Book Review: The Boys Who Were Left Behind

 

            The Boys Who Were Left Behind is the story of the 1944 “Streetcar Series”, the only all-St. Louis World Series. The book focuses primarily on the Browns and Cardinals players and managers, with emphasis on their war-years experiences. Of special interest is the story of Browns manager Luke Sewell, his recruitment to be the field boss, and how he assembled and motivated his wartime group of cast-offs and misfits.
 
After introducing the key players, along with managers Sewell and Southworth, and brief histories of the franchises’ activities in the late 1930s and early 1940s, The Boys Who Were Left Behind covers each of the six games of the ’44 Series. You’ll see the Series swing from the Browns’ stunning victories in games one and three, to the Cardinals’ extra-innings victory in game two and the Redbirds’ eventual overmatching of the Brownies to win the last three games (and the Series, four games to two).   
 
A key perspective of the book is the uncertainty of life during World War II. Players (and management) did not know if or when they might be drafted, and several struggled to juggle a defense-related job with playing baseball. The book is also loaded with baseball legend and trivia. One interesting twist of history is that the “Streetcar Series” almost never happened! The Browns were set to be sold to a Los Angeles group prior to the 1942 season, with the announcement to be made on Monday December 8, 1941!! After the attack on Pearl Harbor, those plans were obviously postponed.
 
SABR members with interests in wartime baseball history, baseball history in general, or in St. Louis baseball should enjoy this quick read.
                       
 
Here’s the key statistics:
 
Book:   The Boys Who Were Left Behind; The 1944 World Series between the Hapless St. Louis Browns and the Legendary St. Louis Cardinals.
Authors: John Heidenry and Brett Topel
Author Credentials: Heidenry is founding editor of St. Louis Magazine; Topel is a freelance sports journalist. 
Published: 2006, University of Nebraska Press; ISBN 0-8032-2428-1
Length: 152 pages
Price: Retail list – $29.95; Online: new from $18.95 + ship; used from $15.99 + ship.

 

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