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.
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.