Mort Cooper

Mort CooperDuring World War II, when the big leagues were ravaged by the loss of most of the game’s biggest stars, Mort Cooper was arguably the best pitcher in the National League. Because of his effectiveness the right-hander helped the St. Louis Cardinals to three consecutive pennants and World Series titles in 1942 and 1944. In ’42 he won the National League Most Valuable Player Award, edging teammates Enos Slaughter.

Cooper made a tactical error in 1945 when he joined his brother Walker (the Redbirds’ star catcher) in a joint holdout for more money. The Cardinals traded Mort to the Boston Braves in May and never missed him. Cooper by that time was suffering from a sore arm and he also wasn’t as effective when the stars returned from military service in ’46. After going 105-50 for St. Louis, Mort was just 23-25 after being exiled from the Cardinals.

Lowest ERA in Major Leagues, 1942-1945

1. Spud Chandler … 2.16
2. Mort Cooper … 2.25
3. Hal Newhouser … 2.29
4. Max Lanier … 2.43
5. Al Benton … 2.50
6. Tex Hughson … 2.52
7. Harry Brecheen … 2.58
8. Hank Borowy … 2.66
9. Johnny Niggeling … 2.66
10. Johnny Vander Meer … 2.67