Max Lanier

Max LanierIn 1946, lefty Max Lanier was a perfect 6-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his first six starts for the St. Louis Cardinals when he left the team to sign a ,000 contract in the Mexican League. Two of his teammates (utility infielder Lou Klein and pitcher Fred Martin) also bolted the team in a shocking blow to the Cardinals, the best team in baseball and winners of three of the last four pennants. The move proved to be a bad decision for Lanier, as well as the other American stars who were attracted by dollar signs to go south of the border. Lanier pitched for the Mexican League in ’46 and ’47 before applying to come back the the Major Leagues in 1948. But commissioner Happy Chandler ruled that Lanier and the other defectors would have to serve five-year suspensions. In response, Lanier and a few of the others sued MLB and reached an agreement that they could return in 1949.

Having missed nearly three full seasons due to his jaunt to Mexico, Lanier eased himself back into the big leagues with the Cardinals, pitching in 15 games in 1949. He was a key part of the rotation the following two seasons, winning 11 games both years. He never again reached his level of stardom that he enjoyed prior to 1946, and finished his career 3in the minor leagues after being cut by the St. Louis Browns in 1953.

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