Leon Culberson

Leon CulbersonIn the eighth inning of Game Seven in the 1946 World Series, Harry Walker belted a liner to left-center field that split the outfielders and went to the wall. The runner on first base, Enos Slaughter, ran all the way around the bases and scored the go-ahead run for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Boston outfielder who fielded that ball was Leon Culberson, who had entered the game for injured starter Dom DiMaggio that inning. Culberson got to the ball a little late and when he relayed it to Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky there was no time to get it home to tag Slaughter. For years, Pesky was blamed for having “held the ball” while Slaughter made his “mad dash” around the bases with the pivotal run. The myth says that Slaughter scored on a single, but in fact the ball was a double for Walker. It was the most famous play Culberson was ever involved in, otherwise his six-year career was fairly uneventful.

Like many batters, Culberson delighted in playing in Fenway Park in Boston. In his five seasons there he hit over .290, while his average in other ballparks was .242 with less power. He hit .313 in ’46 when the Sox went to the World Series and lost in seven heartbreaking games to the Cardinals. He was traded after the ’47 season to Washington for a veteran left-handed outfielder, Stan Spence.