On July 8, 1941, Ted Williams hit perhaps the most famous All-Star Game home run. His two-out, three-run, walk-off bomb at Briggs Stadium in Detroit gave the American League a 7-5 win over the Nationals. The victimized pitcher was Waynesboro native Claude Passeau. Passeau wore No. 13 most of his big league career and wore it well. The right-hander won 162 games – third-most ever for a Mississippi native – and threw a one-hitter in the 1945 World Series for the Chicago Cubs. He earned five All-Star Game nods. But luck frowned on the Millsaps College alumnus in the Midsummer Classic. In the ’41 game, his first, a botched double play would have ended the game before Williams batted. In 1942, he worked two scoreless innings in relief in a game the NL lost 3-1. He didn’t get in the ’43 game and the ’45 game wasn’t played. In 1946, Passeau, now 37 years old, got the start and went three innings, yielding just two hits. One of them, however, was a two-run homer in the first inning by Charlie Keller. The NL never scored and Passeau was saddled with another loss.
As Chicago Cubs fans eagerly look forward to the club’s first World Series appearance in 71 years, let’s take a quick look back at that 1945 Series, the last of the four played during World War II. Yes, the Cubs lost in seven games to Detroit, but don’t fault the efforts of Claude Passeau, the big right-hander from Waynesboro. Passeau, who won 162 games and made five All-Star teams, might never have been better than he was in Game 3 of that Series, throwing a one-hitter in a 3-0 victory that put the Cubs up 2 games to 1. The only hit was a second-inning single by Rudy York. Meridian native Skeeter Webb, the Tigers’ leadoff batter, took an 0-for-3, as did Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. Passeau walked only one and struck out only one – and even drove in a run. “I felt so good I began to tease the Detroit hitters,” Passeau, known for his fidgeting on the mound, told The Sporting News after that game. Passeau also started Game 6, with the Cubs down 3-2 in the series, and he worked into the seventh inning, departing with the lead. The Cubs’ bullpen let it get away, but Chicago rallied to win 8-7 in 12 innings. Passeau also pitched in Game 7, two days later, and yielded two runs in the eighth inning of a game that was already out of hand. The Tigers won 9-3. Surely, some Cubs fans at Wrigley Field that day – and maybe even Claude Passeau himself — shrugged and said, “We’ll get ’em next time.” Well, 71 years later, next time is here. P.S. The Cleveland Indians also lost the last time they were in the Series. In 1997, former Mississippi State star Jay Powell from Meridian got the win in Game 7 for the Florida Marlins. Powell worked a scoreless top of the 11th and then celebrated a championship when Edgar Renteria knocked in the game-winner in the bottom half.
Seventy years ago, in Boston’s Fenway Park, Waynesboro native Claude Passeau of the Chicago Cubs received the considerable honor of starting for the National League in the All-Star Game. Five years earlier, at Detroit’s Briggs Stadium, in his first All-Star outing, Passeau had yielded six hits and five runs over 2 2/3 innings, including the famous walk-off home run by Ted Williams. In the 1946 game, the last of Passeau’s four All-Star appearances, he pitched better, allowing just two hits over three innings. But one of those hits was a two-run homer by Charlie Keller, which propelled the Americans to a 12-0 victory. Passeau again took the loss. Thirty years ago, in the 1986 Midsummer Classic at the Astrodome in Houston, Greenville’s Frank White hit a home run for the AL squad (off former Jackson Mets star Mike Scott of the Astros) in a 3-2 win over the Nationals. Grenada’s Dave Parker and Jackson native Chris Brown each went 1-for-2 for the NL. In the 1996 game, Vicksburg’s Ellis Burks had a hit in two trips as the NL took a 6-0 win at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. And 10 years ago, Weir’s Roy Oswalt made the second of his three All-Star Game appearances, working a 1-2-3 third inning in a game the NL would lose, 3-2, at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. … The last time the All-Star Game was played in San Diego, in 1992 at Jack Murphy Stadium, former Mississippi State star Will Clark hit a three-run homer off former Jackson Mets ace Rick Aguilera. But it wasn’t enough for the Nationals, who lost 13-6 to the Ken Griffey Jr.-led AL team. P.S. In Fayetteville, N.C., tonight, Ole Miss’ Brady Feigl will start in the Coastal Plain League All-Star Game. Feigl, who got some freshman All-America notice as a reliever this past season, is 2-1 with a 1.90 ERA as a starter for Asheboro in the college summer league. … Ex-UM star Alex Presley went 1-for-3 on Sunday in a Class A-level game in the Detroit system. Presley elected free agency after being designated for assignment last month by Milwaukee. On a minor league contract with Detroit, he’ll likely be in Triple-A Toledo soon.
Considering the Chicago Cubs’ star-crossed relationship with the World Series – no titles since 1908, no appearances since 1945 – it’s more than a little ironic that one of the greatest single-game pitching performances in World Series history was delivered by a Cubs hurler. In Game 3 of the ’45 Series, Waynesboro native Claude Passeau threw a one-hit shutout against Detroit. Baseball Digest, in its September/October issue, rated it among the top 10 Series pitching feats of all-time, in the company of legendary games thrown by Don Larsen, Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson. Passeau, who played at Moss Point High and Millsaps, faced just 28 batters in the 3-0 win at Detroit’s Briggs Stadium that gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead in the series. The Tigers lineup Passeau shut down included Hank Greenberg, Rudy York (who had the lone hit, a second-inning single), Doc Cramer and Meridian native Skeeter Webb. Passeau, a 162-game winner in a big league career that ended in 1947, also pitched well in his other Series start that year, departing in the seventh inning of Game 6 with a 5-3 lead. The Cubs won 8-7 in 12 innings, then lost Game 7 9-3 at Wrigley, still the last World Series game played at the Friendly Confines. P.S. Ex-Ole Miss standout Chris Coghlan, who had a good year with the Cubs (.250, 16 homers, 41 RBIs), didn’t produce in the postseason, going 1-for-12 overall, 0-for-7 in the National League Championship Series. Coghlan got one start against the New York Mets, in Game 2 at Citi Field on Sunday, and was robbed of a home run by Curtis Granderson. … A Butera is going to the 2015 World Series. Sal Butera, who managed the Jackson Generals to a Texas League championship in 1993, is a scout for Toronto and is currently in uniform as a coach. Son Drew is Kansas City’s backup catcher. The Royals lead the Blue Jays 3-2 in the American League Championship Series. Sal won a ring as a backup catcher with Minnesota in 1987.
There were no walk-off homers, or any homers at all by Mississippi-connected players. Nobody had a bunch of hits or drove in a bunch of runs. No quality starts were delivered, no holds or saves recorded. And yet, Mississippians made their mark in Tuesday’s MLB games, splattering numbers all over the 17 box scores. Twelve Mississippians (natives or college alums) played on Tuesday, and they collectively delivered six hits, five walks, five runs, two steals, a sac fly, a win and 2 2/3 scoreless innings of pitching. The line of the day belongs to Southwest Mississippi Community College product and McComb native Jarrod Dyson. In Kansas City’s 7-1 win over Tampa Bay in Game 2 of a twinbill, Dyson put up a 2-3-1-0 with two walks and a stolen base. P.S. On this date in 1941, Ted Williams hit his legendary three-run, ninth-inning, game-winning home run in the All-Star Game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. The pitch was delivered by Claude Passeau, one of the greatest pitchers Mississippi has produced. The Waynesboro native and Millsaps College alum, who won 162 games in the big leagues, was working his third inning for the National League and would have been a winner (by a 5-3 score) had a double play been turned before Williams’ at-bat. Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber of Columbus called the game for Mutual Radio.