1944 April

1st  The Red Sox play their first exhibition game, taking on the talented Coast Guard “Cutters” at Curtis Bay Navy Yard. The Cutters, managed by Dick Porter, score 12 runs in the bottom of the 1st, knocking out Joe Wood, Jr. Hank Sauer hits a bases-loaded triple off Mike Ryba in the frame. The final is 23-16 as the Red Sox kick in 8 errors in the loss.

Gerald Juzek pitches 3 innings for Los Angeles in a PCL exhibition game less than 2 years after suffering a severe leg wound while fighting in Guadalcanal. Juzek was told he would never walk again.

2nd In a pre-game exhibition before playing the Jersey City Giants in Lakehurst, NJ, outfielder Danny Gardella and 1B Phil Weintraub of the NY Giants catch balls dropped from a blimp 400 feet above the ground.

11th Hollywood and San Diego play the first night baseball game in the PCL since night games were banned after August 19, 1942.

16th Jack Hand of the Associated Press names the Yankees, White Sox, and Senators as favorites to win the AL pennant. Like most observers, he picks the Browns to finish last.

18th All 16 ML teams see action on Opening Day. But Bobby Doerr, Tex Hughson, and Mort Cooper are the only established stars still on the wartime rosters. A potential star among the new crop of rookies is George Kell, now Connie Mack’s 3B, who last year with Lancaster (Inter-State League) led all minor league hitters with a .396 average.

In Washington, Vice President Wallace throws out the first ball and the A’s then nip the Senators, 3–2, in 12 innings.

At Fenway Park, Hank Borowy of the Yankees shuts out the Red Sox 3–0 on five hits, as Johnny Lindell hits the first HR of 1944, an opposite field shot in the 2nd inning. Yank Terry allows 7 hits in 7 innings to take the loss.

At St. Louis, Preacher Roe of the Pirates makes his first ML start (he pitched 2 innings for the Cardinals in 1938) and pitches a strong game, only to lose to Max Lanier, 2-0. Roe has one of the two hits allowed by Lanier.

At Detroit, the Browns win their 8th straight Opening Day game, beating the Tigers, 2–1. Jack Kramer tops Dizzy Trout, with Pinky Higgins and Vern Stephens matching homers.

19th The Giants defeat the Braves 2–1, as Mel Ott hits the first NL HR of the year and the 464th of his career.

The Browns strand 14 runners but still score 3 times to beat the Tigers, 3–1. Steve Sundra allows just 3 hits, one of them a homer by Rudy York, his 1,000th ML hit. A second hit is a pinch single by Detroit rookie Chuck Hostetler in his first ML at bat. At age 40, Hostetler is the oldest rookie in ML history.

20th At Cincinnati, the Reds edge the Cubs, 2–1, behind Tommy de la Cruz. The loser is Bill Fleming. The major league career of Mike Kosman ends after a 30-yard dash. Sent in to pinch-run for Steve Mesner at 3rd base for the Reds, Kosman is thrown out at the plate and never appears in another box score.

After a pair of 2–1 victories, the Giants use heavy artillery to subdue the Braves, 10–8. Ott, Lombardi and Medwick homer and Ducky adds 2 singles and a double. The Braves make it close knocking out starter Melton and beating up reliever Lou Polli, making his first ML appearance since 1932. Feldman retires the side in the 9th after 3 runs had scored in both the 8th and 9th.

Twenty-six-year old Elmer Gedeon, a part-time outfielder with the Senators in 1939, is killed when his plane is shot down over France. He is the first major leaguer killed in the war. Gedeon is the son of former major leaguer Joe Gedeon.

21st Mike Kreevich hits a pair of HRs, as the Browns beat the White Sox, 5–3. In the preceding 3 years, a period involving 297 games, Kreevich tallied just one homer. The Browns, off to a fast start will win their first six games.

22nd The Yankees hand out 1943 WS rings before beating the Senators 6–3. Manager Joe McCarthy is absent because of illness and is at home on his farm near Buffalo. He is suffering from influenza and according to his doctor, “will be away indefinitely.” Artie Fletcher will serve as acting manager.

23rd Jim Tobin tosses a one-hitter in the Braves’ home opener 5-0 win as Philadelphia 2B Ford Mullen gets the only hit in the 6thinning. In his previous start Tobin lost a 3-hitter to the Giants. Philadelphia returns the favor in game 2, when Al Gerheauser wins, 3-0.

The Cardinals remain undefeated by sweeping a pair from the Cubs, 11-3 and 5-4. Ray Sanders has 3 doubles in the 18-hit game 1 attack. Andy Pafko is 4-for-4 for the Cubs. In game 2, Whitey Kurowski hits a 3-run homer for the Birds.

At Cleveland, Detroit wins a pair from Cleveland, 6-2 and 4-3. Dizzy Trout is the starter and winner in the opener, helped by Hack Miller’s homer in his first ML at bat. Hal Newhouser is the winner in relief in game 2.

24th The Browns sweep the White Sox, winning 5–2 and 4–3, to extend their season-opening winning streak to six games. Jack Kramer is the winner in the opener, aiding his cause with a two-run homer.

25th At Yankee Stadium, the Yanks score 4 runs in the bottom of the 1st on Johnny Lindell’s grand slam, but that is all the scoring they can muster against Don Black as the A’s win, 8-4. Philadelphia scores 7 runs in the final two innings.

26th Frank McCormick homers in the bottom of the 13th inning as Bucky Walters and the Reds beat the Cardinals 1–0.

27th Boston knuckleballer Jim Tobin hits a HR, off Fritz Ostermueller, and no-hits the Brooklyn Dodgers 2–0 before a mid-week crowd of just 1,984 at Braves Field. Tobin walks Paul Waner to lead off the game, then retires 26 consecutive batters before again walking Waner with 2 outs in the 9th inning. Tobin has now given up 4 hits in 27 innings.

The Browns tie the Yankees’ AL record by winning their 7th straight to open the season. Steve Sundra beats Cleveland’s Allie Reynolds 5–2 as a paid crowd of 960 look on.

28th OF Woody Wheaton drives home the winning run in the 16thinning to give the A’s a 7–5 victory over the Red Sox. It is Woody’s only hit in the game.

The Browns win their 8th straight, topping the Indians, 5–1.

29th Following Nelson Potter’s win yesterday, Jack Kramer pitches the Brown’s to their AL record 9th straight win to start the season. The 3–1 win over the Indians gives the first place Browns a 3 ½ game lead.

30th Before 58,000 at the Polo Grounds, the Giants pummel the Dodgers 26–8 in the opener of two. Player/manager Mel Ott reaches base 7 times (2 singles, 5 BB), scoring 6 runs for the 2nd time in his career, and Phil Weintraub drives in 11 runs with a homer, triple, and 2 doubles. Teammate Ernie Lombardi drives in another 7. Dodger pitchers give up NL record-tying 17 walks, including six in a row (ties NL mark) in the 2nd. They walk Mel Ott 5 times, a NL record 4th time in his career that Ott has been issued 5 passes. They pass him once in game 2 for a record 6 walks in a DH. A ML record-tying 3 players (Ott-6: Medwick-5: Weintraub-5) score 5 runs each: another ML mark since 1900 is set with Ott’s 6 runs + 5 runs by another teammate). The Giants outfield scores a record-tying 14 runs, matching the Giants of June 9, 1901. The 26 RBIs is a NL record, matched in 1995. Most of the damage comes against rookie Tommy Warren, who toils 5 innings allowing 15 runs (11 earned) on 13 hits. No reliever the rest of the century will allow 15 runs. The Dodgers earn a split as Hal Gregg wins the nitecap 5–4, despite walking 8 batters. The 2-game total of 25 free passes by the Giants is an NL record. Ott adds to his lifetime NL marks by recording his 1,700thrun and driving in his 1,700th run.

The White Sox beat the Browns, 4–3, to hand St. Louis their first loss after 9 wins.

The Red Sox and A’s split a doubleheader at Fenway, with the Sox taking the opener, 3-2, and the A’s responding with a 3-1 victory in game 2. Lum Harris is the second-game winner, snapping his 14-game losing streak over two seasons.

St. Louis pitcher Max Lanier shuts out the slumping Cubs, 5–0, in the opener. Ed Hanycewski takes the loss. Then Rookie Ted Wilks, on his way to a 17–4 season, beats Hank Wyse, 7–5, to give the Cards a sweep. With the Cubs losing 9 of their first 10 games, Jimmie Wilson resigns as manager.