This series was originally published at the Redbird Daily, but is now proud to call Cards Conclave home. This installment was written by Clay Beyersdorfer of the Last Man Up podcast.
#11 – Enos Slaughter (1938-53, 10x All-Star, HOF)
Enos Bradsher Slaughter was the definition of what is known today as the “contact hitter.” Over the course of nearly 20 years of Major League Baseball service, “Country” Slaughter amassed 2,383 hits and a batting average of .300, all the while only hitting 169 home runs (nice).
Because of his ability to put the ball into play and get on base, Slaughter was a staple in the game from 1938 to 1959, playing the majority of his career in St. Louis, but also finding time in with the New York Yankees, the then Kansas City Athletics, and the Milwaukee Braves.
Slaughter was simply a man who loved to play the game, and he played 1,820 of them, ranking only behind Cardinal greats Ozzie Smith, Lou Brock and Stan Musial in games played.
It’s been heavily documented that Slaughter was notorious for running everywhere on the field, including after being walked. He credited a minor league manager by the name of Eddie Dyer, (yes that Eddie Dyer, but more on him in a minute) who told him “Son, if you’re tired, we’ll try to get you some help.”
Slaughter never walked off the field again.
War-Time Enos Slaughter
As with many players during the World War II era, Slaughter was no exception to military service, and took a break from baseball in 1942, shortly after the World Series against the Yankees.
Initially slotted to be a pilot in the Army Air Corps, Slaughter was told that he was colorblind and wouldn’t be able to fly, so he was assigned as a physical education instructor.
Slaughter’s baseball talents played a role within the service as well, as he, along with several other war time MLB players (including Bobby Adams, Joe Gordon and Birdie Tebbets), island-hopped around the South Pacific following American forces.
Their “USO style” tour was able to raise money and war bonds for troops stationed around the world.
Slaughter was discharged from service in 1946, and returned to baseball right away.
The “Mad Dash”
If you have to pick any one highlight or great moment in Slaughter’s career you include the Mad Dash of the 1946 World Series.
If you don’t, well, I am not sure what you’re doing.
During the decisive Game 7 against the Boston Red Sox, Slaughter scored from first base on Harry Walker’s hit in the eighth inning. The delayed throw by Red Sock Johnny Pesky (yes, Pesky’s Pole) allowed Enos to make what Sporting News called one of “Baseball’s 25 Greatest Moments.”
A moment in Cardinal greatness that most of us never saw live.
After 10 All-Star appearances and four World Series titles, Enos Slaughter retired from the game in 1959. He would spend time managing in both the college and minor league ranks.
Slaughter was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985, had his number retired by the Cardinals in 1996, and the organization erected a statue of his famous Mad Dash in 1999 outside Busch Stadium II.
After a long battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Slaughter died at the age of 86 in 2002.
A man of hustle, heart and sacrifice, Enos Slaughter ranks #11 on our Top 100 Cardinals list, but the impact he had on the game of baseball extends far beyond that number.
Thanks for reading.