Brooklyn left fielder Dixie Walker connected for two homers to delight a crowd of 8,618 fans at Ebbets Field as the Dodgers beat the Phillies, 7-5. Walker's two home runs, obligated his sponsor, the Brooklyn Club (a social group) to pony up $27,500 in war bonds as the Dodgers were part of a season long war bond sales drive.
The Dodgers were still two games behind the first place Cardinals. In 1942 the Dodgers won 104 games and lost the pennant to the Cardinals by two games. But after the season ended, team president Larry MacPhail joined the Army and Branch Rickey came over from the Cardinals to run the Dodgers. The Phillies were under new ownership as well as William Cox had bought the team in February. The 33-year old had made his fortune in lumber. But when the season was over Commissioner Kenesaw Landis expelled him from baseball forever after he found out that Cox had bet on his own team.
On this day, Phillies manager Bucky Harris (whom Cox disliked and tried to fire in May, but relented after the players threatened to strike) started Charlie Fuchs, a 29-year old who got a chance in the majors because of the war. Dodgers manager Leo Durocher started by 41-year old veteran Freddie Fitzsimmons, who had been brought out of retirement by the Dodgers who were desperate for arms.
Walker hit a three run homer in the first with a pair of future Hall of Famers aboard, third baseman Arky Vaughan and right fielder Paul Waner. The Dodgers added two more in the third on consecutive singles by first baseman Dolph Camilli, Walker, second baseman Billy Herman (another future Hall of Famer), center fielder Augie Galan, and a double play by catcher Mickey Owen.
The Dodgers added a run in the fifth off of 18-year old Phillies reliever George Eyrich on an RBI single from Galan. Walker hit his second home run in the seventh when he homered off of Boom-Boom Beck. Meanwhile, Fitzsimmons had given up just two runs through the first seven innings.
But the Phillies broke out the bats in the eighth. Second baseman Danny Murtaugh, right fielder Ron Northey, and center fielder Buster Adams all singled to load the bases. First baseman Jimmy Wasdell then lined a shot into the gap in to center that Galan overran and Wasdell had a three RBI triple to make it 7-5. Durocher brought in Les Webber to pitch. Third baseman Babe Dahlgren was up and he bounced to Vaughan, who threw him out with Wasdell holding. Left fielder Coaker Triplett then hit a sharp grounder to third and Vaughan came up with it and threw out Wasdell at the plate trying to score. After a walk, catcher Mickey Livingston grounded to Vaughan who stepped on third for the force to end the inning. Webber pitched the ninth to close it out.
The game would be the last win of Fitzsimmons career. He finished his 19-year career in the majors with a 217-146 record pitching for the Giants and Dodgers. In July, the Dodgers released Fitzsimmons so he could take over as manager for the Phillies as Cox finally succeeded in ridding himself of Harris.
Not that anything was going to help the Phillies much in 1943. They finished in seventh place with a 64-90 record. They were 39-53 under Harris and 25-37 under Fitzsimmons. They would finish in last in 1944 and were in last early in the 1945 season when Fitzsimmons was let go and replaced by Ben Chapman, who kept them in last.
The Dodgers finished third in 1943 with an 81-72 record, 18 games behind the Cardinals, whose roster didn't suffer as much under the personnel strains of World War II thanks to its well-developed farm system by Rickey. The Cardinals won 106 games in 1942 and 105 in 1943 and 1944 and won two World Series.
The Dodgers offense scored an average of 4.68 runs per game, but also allowed 4.41 runs per game and had a team ERA of 3.88, half a run higher than the league average. Philadelphia's problem was that its best offensive player was a pitcher, Schoolboy Rowe, who batted .300 and had an OPS+ of 147. And Rowe left for military service at the end of the year.
Sources: New York Times, Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet, Baseball Digest article by Jerome Holtzman for information on Cox