Sunday Morning Coffee with Ray Mileur

At the time Birdhouse Publisher Ray Mileur was being asked by the Billy Southworth family to represent them at the National Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies half way across the country, another Mileur, Jerome Mileur, was putting the finishing touches on his new book, "High-Flying Birds", that chronicles the historic St. Louis Cardinals 1942 pennant drive, led by the Hall of Fame Manager.

It was 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—and fastest—team to win the National League pennant and World Series. 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 taking the title 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. 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 was the first of three consecutive pennants 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.

"Here's a chance to relive that wonderful season of 1942. America was at war, but Franklin Roosevelt gave his presidential sanction for Major League Baseball to fiercely and shamelessly pursue its own specialized combat. Jerome Mileur's writing mirrors the times and captures the spirit of a great Cardinals team. In a subtle way his narrative rekindles that era's pride in being American and lures one to vicariously soak in the highs and lows of events on and off the field. I would insert only one more incidental item, which dates to sometime in the late 1950s, when my grandfather somewhat too casually said to me, "I wouldn't mind if my epitaph read `He had something to do with converting Musial from a pitcher." - Branch Rickey III, President, Pacific Coast League

"This is an interesting and important study of the Cardinals in 1942. They were a superb team, a world champion, and one that signaled the beginning of a new dynasty. This book offers a fine discussion of the '42 season, giving a blow-by-blow account of each game. The subject matter of this work is both significant and timely." - Roger Launius, author of Seasons in the Sun: The Story of Big League Baseball in Missouri

"A must read for Cardinal fans, this new book on the 1942 Cardinals, by one of the more distinguished members of the Mileur family, captures the spirit and the history of the team ranked by the Birdhouse as the Cardinals All-Time #1 team. An easy read, as you eagerly turn the pages, it's like being in the press box watching the season transpire right before your eyes. It is a part of baseball history re-lived and revived for those never fortunate to have been a part of greatest era of the St. Louis Cardinals." – Ray Mileur, Publisher, and the Southworth family representative at the Billy Southworth Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies in 2008

Jerome Mileur owned a Double A baseball club in Holyoke, Nashua, N.H., and Harrisburg, Pa. between 1982 and 1995. He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

"High-Flying Birds" is published by the University of Missouri Press and is available for $34.95.

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