By 1945, manpower shortages in baseball because of wartime demands made teams desperate to take just about anyone. The Washington Senators leftovers were better than the Detroit Tigers leftovers and won 8-3 on a sweltering afternoon at Briggs Stadium before 4,630 fans.
The Senators were managed by Ossie Bluege and he chose 5'7" righthander Mariano Pieretti as his starting pitcher. Detroit manager Steve O'Neill tabbed lefthander Stubby Overmire, who also stood just 5'7".
Overmire didn't last long in the height as the Senators pounded him right away. Rightfielder George Case led off with a single and leftfielder Jose Zardon tried to sacrifice, but Overmire couldn't handle the bunt and everyone was safe. Second baseman Fred Vaughn followed with a sacrifice and first baseman Joe Kuhel singled home Case and Zardon. Third baseman Harlond Clift followed with a walk. Shortstop Gil Torres and centerfielder George Binks came up with RBI singles to knock out Overmire.
Forrest Orrell was now in to relieve, but he walked catcher Al Evans and then Pieretti to force in a run, before he finally got out of the inning with his team down 5-0.
The Tigers strung together three singles for a run in the first, but Pieretti wouldn't allow many other runners to reach base until the ninth. Pieretti gave up just six hits in a complete game win.
Washington was getting hits in nearly every inning, but would only score again in the seventh when they pushed across three runs off of Detroit's third pitcher, Zeb Eaton. Washington collected 15 hits overall in the game, three each by Torres, Binks, and Pieretti.
Although Washington was in sixth place on June 29, they would challenge the Tigers all season for the AL pennant. The defending champion Browns had slacked off and even the Yankees had lost enough players to the war, that they couldn't keep up.
Washington owner Clark Griffith hadn't anticipated his team being in the pennant race however and he arranged to rent out Griffith Stadium the final week of the regular season to the Washington Redskins. So the Senators finished their season on September 23, when they split a doubleheader at Philadelphia. This left them one game out of first behind Detroit at 87-67, but with no games left to play. Meanwhile, the Tigers had four games left on the schedule. Detroit split a doubleheader against Cleveland on September 26 to maintain a one-game lead. Then on September 30, the Tigers beat St. Louis to win their 88th game and clinch the pennant and the final game of the year in St. Louis was called off.
The Tigers went on to play in a very unusual World Series against the Chicago Cubs. First of all, players were starting to return from the war. And Federal law stated that returning veterans from the war had to get their jobs back. This helped the Tigers a lot when Hank Greenberg got back. Baseball decided to have unlimited size rosters for the World Series. The Cubs used a player, Clyde McCullough, who had not played at all in the regular season. Also, to limit travel, the series was played in a 3-3-X format. The first three games were played in Detroit and the next three in Wrigley. Once a seventh game was needed, the Cubs won the toss and got to host the game. And, of course, the Cubs lost, 9-3 to give the Tigers the World Series win. Many baseball historians consider this seven-game series to be the worst World Series ever played.
If you looked at the leaders in the American League, there would be many unfamiliar names among the league leaders. Yankee second basemann Snuffy Stirnweiss led the league in batting at .3085. White Sox third baseman Tony Cuccinello was second at .3084. White Sox outfielder Johnny Dickshot was the only other qualifier over .300 at .302. Dickshot's nickname was "Ugly." He really needed to do some marketing. Cuccinello and Dickshot never played in the majors again after 1945. Vern Stephens of St. Louis led the league in home runs with just 24. Nick Etten of the Yankees led in RBI with 111.
Detroit pitcher Hal Newhouser was the league MVP for the second straight year. He was 25-9 with a 1.81 ERA and 212 strikeouts. No other pitcher in the AL had more than 129 strikeouts.
With the stars returning for the 1946 season, the Tigers still had a good year, finishing second behind Boston, but the Senators went back to fourth at 76-78.
Sources: Washington Post, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com