Billy Southworth

Manager Billy Southworth calls out instructions to his Cardinals in a 1942 game at New York's Polo Grounds. (AP Photo)

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ARLINGTON, TEXAS — At some point during what could be his last morning before he goes to sleep a World Series champion, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will do as he’s done in the bubble for several weeks now and order the same breakfast.

“Every morning I go with oatmeal, 2 percent milk, with brown sugar and some berries,” Roberts said Monday. “I go with three eggs over medium, and I go with a side of bacon and a cup of coffee. That’s my go-to, every day. I look forward to it every morning.”

There are places at the Dallas-area resort the Dodgers have called home for almost a month now where players might cross paths. Pitcher Clayton Kershaw said it’s hard to forget the quarantine they’re in to make this postseason possible when he wakes up to Walker Buehler practicing his golf shots nearby. The Dodgers have found outdoor courtyards to gather, had a Halloween-like party for the kids in the bubble, and, Roberts said Monday, even had something of a wedding shower. Rays manager Kevin Cash expected his team to gather around some outdoor fire pits to talk baseball. In this novel and unusual World Series, all of that – the favorite breakfast, the trick or treating, the fireside chats – are happening at the same place.

But it’s not the first time two managers have shared an address in the World Series.

This time, at least, they don’t share a closet.

The 2020 World Series is the first neutral-site contest in Fall Classic history, and it is the first held entirely at one ballpark since 1944 and the “Streetcar Series” in St. Louis. Sportsman’s Park, that Grand Boulevard palace, hosted the ’44 World Series that pitted the surprise 85-win Browns against the burgeoning dynasty of the Cardinals. The series also gave us the legend of Emil Verban. The Cardinals’ infielder was so furious that the Browns put his wife in an obstructed-view seat that he just went and hit .412 (seven-for-17, all singles) in the series. Until the 2020 Dodgers came along, the St. Louis Classic was the last World Series to feature an NL team that topped the league in home runs and ERA. Those Cardinals won the series, their second championship in three years and the second of three for Stan Musial and The Swifties.

The World Series went six games with the teams reporting to the same ballpark for home and away games, and had this off-field twist: The managers had closer quarters than a Texas resort in a bubble. They shared the same apartment. 

Or, did all season.

From a Cardinals book I wrote a few years ago: “Every the time the Cardinals were returning home from a road trip, Ms. Edna Sewell would tidy up her family’s apartment, pack any necessities, scoop up her two teenage daughters, Suzanne and Lois, and train home to Akron, Ohio. That was the deal. When the Cardinals were in town, her family wasn’t. It worked wonderfully the entire 1944 season until the baseball team her husband managed shocked baseball with an unexpected World Series between the two St. Louis major-league baseball teams. The Sewells – Edna, the girls and father Luke, manager of the St. Louis Browns – suddenly had to consider unlikely housemates: Cardinals manager Billy Southworth and his family.”

World War II cast its shadow over the entirety of the World Series – literally, with a bomber cruising over Sportsman’s Park and tilting ever so slightly to give the crew a better view of game and, figuratively, with players absent and other restrictions in place.

Similar to the limited ticket sales of the 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tickets to the 1944 World Series were also tightly controlled. Due to travel restrictions in the country, only people in the St. Louis metropolitan area could attend the first World Series held entirely west of the Mississippi River.

There was also a housing shortage, and in order to keep their families with them through the baseball season the managers of the Browns and Cardinals hatched a creative solution.

They would share an apartment.

Their teams wouldn’t be home at the same time.

Why have the apartment sit empty half the season?

Luke Sewell, of the Browns, was in his fourth season as the manager of the team, and during his tenure the Browns would go 432-410. Southworth was in the early years of a career that would eventually earn him posthumous induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. A player/manager in 1929, Southworth helmed the Cardinals from 1940-1945 before heading elsewhere to manager. The Cardinals were 620-346 with him as manager, and they won three consecutive NL pennants (1942-44) and had three consecutive 100-win seasons. Southworth’s Boston Braves would win the NL pennant in 1948 to give him four in his career.

The two managers found an agreeable apartment at 3745 Lindell Blvd., the Lindell Towers. Address is across from SLU, right there between the Scottish Rite Cathedral and the great (but now closed) Moolah Theater.

Every time the Cardinals left town, Mrs. Sewell would return to the apartment to find it cleaned and empty after Mabel Southworth and her daughter Carol had followed the team. They’d repack and later unpack, swap closets, keep kitchen supplies ready.

The wives called the same place home, but never met, according to reports.

The Browns were home for the final days of the season, hosting the Yankees. The Sewells were in the Lindell apartment and preparing to leave it clean and empty for the Southworths, who they knew would be returning from the road for the World Series. The Browns clinched the American League pennant on the final day. Suddenly, Sewell and Southworth had more to decide than just their rotation for the Fall Classic.

Their families both couldn’t share the apartment for a week.

So, they flipped a coin.

The box scores don't show this Browns' victory.

Sewell stayed in the apartment.

Southworth rallied and won the Series.

-30-

Derrick Goold

@dgoold on Twitter

dgoold@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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