cover of book

High-Flying Birds: The 1942 St. Louis Cardinals
by Jerome M. Mileur
University of Missouri Press, 2009
eISBN: 978-0-8262-7178-5 | Cloth: 978-0-8262-1834-6
Library of Congress Classification GV875.S3M55 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 796.357640977866


1942: Americans suddenly found themselves at war but were not about to be distracted from the National Pastime. The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees were looking to continue their World Series rivalry from the 1941 season, and a youthful team from St. Louis was determined to stop them.
With only one player older than thirty, the St. Louis Cardinals were the youngest team to win the National League pennant and World Series. Built on good pitching and tremendous speed on the base paths and in the field, the team featured rookie Stan Musial, future Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter, and ace pitcher Mort Cooper, the National League’s Most Valuable Player of 1942. With their winningest season ever, posting 106 victories, the 1942 Redbirds have been called the greatest Cardinal team of all time.
Jerome Mileur was just a kid from downstate Illinois, but he well remembers his view of one game from the left-field grandstand—and the thrill of attending the second game of the World Series. In this book, he brings a sure and loving grasp of his subject to reconstructing one of the most remarkable pennant drives in modern baseball history, with the Cards winning forty-three of their last fifty-one games and clinching first place on the last day of the season.
Mileur provides a game-by-game account of the season with play-by-play action, not only capturing all the thrills on the Cards’ way to the top but also conveying the physical and mental demands that the players endured. Counted out by nearly everyone but themselves in August, the Redbirds caught fire in the season’s final weeks to pass the seemingly unbeatable Dodgers. And by winning four games out of five to defeat the New York Yankees for the championship, they handed Joe DiMaggio his only World Series defeat.
More than a recapitulation of a thrilling season, Mileur’s book is a reminder of how major-league baseball in 1942 differed in so many ways from today’s game—one startling example is Mileur’s account of how the absence of outfield warning tracks contributed to a devastating injury to Brooklyn’s star outfielder, Pete Reiser. The tenor of the times is reflected as well in the juxtaposition of the baseball season with the United States’ first year in the Second World War.
The 1942 Cardinals were not only a remarkable team unto themselves but also the beginning of a new baseball dynasty—1942’s pennant was the first of three in a row for the Cards, as well as the first of three World Series victories in a space of five seasons. This account of that tremendous season is a page-turner for anyone who loves the game and a must-read for Cardinals fans.

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