Cards All-Time Top 40 – Harry Brecheen #21

The Top 40 countdown of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals of all time continues with their star pitcher through most of the 1940s, Harry Brecheen.

Harry David Brecheen

The Basics



Total Yrs

Yrs in StL







1940, '43-'53

1940, '43-'52





The Awards

Hall of Fame

Retired #

World Champ



Cy Young

Gold Glove







Note: All stats and awards listed are for years as a Cardinal only.
Brecheen's career stats available from

Voter Comments

Rob Rains (28): Brecheen was a reliable pitcher on the great Cardinals' teams from the 1940s, winning 14 or more games for six consecutive seasons. A left-hander, his best year came in 1948 when he was 20-7 and led the NL with a 2.24 ERA and 149 strikeouts, not quite enough to lead the Cardinals to their fifth pennant in seven years, finishing in second, 6 1/2 games behind the Boston Braves.

Brecheen ranks among the top ten Cardinal pitchers in multiple career categories, including wins, innings pitched, complete games, strikeouts, shutouts and ERA.

Jerry Modene (26): A solid lefty starter who only won 20 games for the Cardinals one time (1948), Brecheen was nevertheless the ace of the staff from the time Mort Cooper was sold until his decline began in 1950. Started his Cardinal career late; didn't become a regular member of the rotation until 1943, when he was already 28 years old, otherwise he might have put up more eye-popping career numbers.

As it is, "The Cat" (Harry is one of three Cardinals with that nickname, the others being Johnny Mize and Andres Galarraga; he's also one of the few players whose nickname lent itself to another player's nickname as The Cat begat Harvey Haddix, "The Kitten".) still wound up at 128-79, 2.91, good for seventh place on the all-time Cardinal wins list and tied for 12th (with Bob Gibson) for all-time best ERA. A longer career might well have boosted Brecheen into my top 20.

Ray Mileur (16): From 1944 through 1949, Harry ‘The Cat" Brecheen won a least 14 regular-season games and a total of 96 for the Cardinals during that span. He had a career World Series ERA of 0.83 that was a record for 30 years.

Brecheen's best season came in 1948 when he was named to the Sporting News All-Star Team after a 20-7 season with league-leading stats of a 2.24 ERA, 149 strikeouts and seven shutouts.

The old-timers remember "The Cat's" 1946 World Series when he became the first lefty to win three games in one Series. He won Game Two over Boston 3-0 and came back and won Game Six and then pitched two innings in Game Seven, picking up the win for the Redbirds.

I have gotten more than one e-mail reminding me that Harry Brecheen was one of the greatest Cardinals ever and he was.

Brian Walton (17): Though he had a short stint with the big league club in 1940, Brecheen did not come up from the Columbus farm club for good until 1943 at the age of 28 as front-liners Howie Pollet and Murray Dickson were called to serve in the Armed Forces.

Brecheen quickly proved he belonged. Under the brightest spotlight of all, that of the World Series, the Oklahoma native showed his best, allowing just three earned runs in 32 2/3 innings. His rookie year, the Cards fell to the Yankees in a rematch, but were victorious in both 1944 and 1946 as Brecheen picked up four wins.

The lefty would stay on to anchor the Cardinals staff for eleven seasons, reaching the 20-win milestone in 1948 and winning 14 or more games six years running. In addition to the career records mentioned above, to this day Brecheen still ranks among the best on the franchise single-season lists for won-loss percentage at .789 (in 1945 - #6) and shutouts with seven (in 1948 - #5).

Voter Comments Key: Voter (Individual Ranking); NR = Not Rated

Master List: To see our entire list of the greatest 40 Cardinals players of all-time as they are unveiled daily, click here.

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