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Max Lanier

From BR Bullpen

1952 Topps #101 Max Lanier

Hubert Max Lanier

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Max Lanier pitched 19 seasons in organized ball, from 1934 to 1954, 14 in the major leagues (1938-1953) and six in the minors, losing most of 1945 to the Military, two years in the Mexican League debacle (1946-1947) and another two to inactivity while unable to get work in 1935 and 1936. He served in the United States Army for one year during World War II (1945) (GB).

Lanier was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1937 by Frank Rickey. He played for the Cardinals (1938-1951), the New York Giants (1952-1953) and the St. Louis Browns (1953). He married Betty Cunningham on October 29, 1949 and his son, Hal Lanier, born in 1942 from a previous marriage, later played in the big leagues. Don Larsen and Willie Mays played with both Max and Hal Lanier. His hobbies included hunting and golf.

Although he became a lefthander only because he broke his right arm twice as a child, Lanier was the top-winning southpaw for three consecutive Cardinal pennant winners, 1942-1944, and was 2-1 in World Series play. He was 6-0 in 1946, then jumped to the Mexican League, causing his suspension from organized baseball. He won 8 games against 3 losses in 1946 for Veracruz of the Mexican league, leading the league in ERA with a figure of 1.93. Though his win-loss record declined in 1947 to 2-2, he posted an ERA of 1.17 in 6 games. He was reinstated in 1949 and won 11 games for the Cardinals in both 1950 and 1951.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time NL All-Star (1943 & 1944)
  • NL ERA Leader (1943)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (1943 & 1944)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 2 (1943 & 1944)
  • Won two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals (1942 & 1944)


  • August 24, 1942: The Brooklyn Dodgers open a four-game series in St. Louis with Larry French (13–1) on the mound for the front-runners. Terry Moore scores four runs for the Birds as they coast to a 7–1 victory behind Max Lanier's 14th victory.
  • September 12, 1942: Mort Cooper wins his 20th game and 8th shutout, stopping Brooklyn 3-0. St. Louis finally catches the Dodgers when Lanier wins the second game, 2-1.
  • June 8, 1944: Bucky Walters of the Cincinnati Reds outduels Lanier of the Cardinals, 2-1. The Cardinal run, scored in the 9th, is the first they have scored off the Reds righty in 45 innings.
  • May 14, 1946: The Dodgers give away free nylons as a promotion and 31,000 show up for the match against the Cardinals. Marty Marion breaks a 5–5 tie by driving in two runs in the 11th and Lanier goes all the way to beat the Dodgers. The win leaves St. Louis a game back of Brooklyn.
  • May 20, 1946: A state Supreme Court justice has armed the Yankees with an injunction against the raiding Mexican Leaguers, and the Dodgers and the Cardinals have also turned to the courts for protection and damages. Before any of the relief becomes permanent, however, Lanier, Fred Martin and Lou Klein jump back to the Redbirds.
  • May 23, 1946: The Cardinals, the pre-season favorites to win the National League pennant, suffer a blow when pitchers Lanier and Martin and infielder Klein jump to the Mexican League. Lanier was 6–0 in six starts this season. The 2nd-place Cards win today at the Polo Grounds behind Johnny Beazley's four-hitter, but will lose three of their next four starts and drop into 2nd place.
  • June 15, 1946: Commissioner Happy Chandler bans Mexican jumpers Lanier, Martin and Klein. Chandler mentions a lifetime suspension for the players, but his penalty is later reduced to five years.
  • March 8, 1949: Lanier and Martin, late of the Mexican League, file a $2.5 million suit against baseball. A federal judge on April 1st will deny their right to be reinstated.
  • July 4, 1949: The Dodgers increase their lead to two games over the Cardinals by winning the twin bill from the Philadelphia Phillies while the Redbirds, with Lanier dropping his first start since reinstatement, divide with the Chicago Cubs.
  • August 27, 1949: Former Mexican Leaguers Lanier and Martin drop their $2.5 million suit against baseball.
  • April 24, 1950: In a pitching duel with Ken Raffensberger, Lanier drives in the only run to give the Cards a 1–0 win over the Reds.
  • May 17, 1950: After 11 straight losses to Lanier, the Dodgers finally top the Cardinal lefty, 6–2, for the first time since 1943. Don Newcombe is the winning pitcher. Lanier helps his downfall with three balks, to tie the National League record.
  • August 23, 1951: At Ebbets Field, the Cards finally beat the Dodgers, 4–2. Lanier allows seven hits, including Roy Campanella's 27th homer, in beating Don Newcombe. Newk won't lose again to the Birds till 1957, winning 12 straight.
  • December 10, 1951: The Cards trade lefty Max Lanier and outfielder Chuck Diering to the New York Giants for second baseman Eddie Stanky, who becomes the team's player-manager.


Principal sources for Max Lanier include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs {{{WW}}} (WW), old Baseball Registers {{{BR}}} (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN {{{DAG}}} (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) {{{MORE}}} and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Gregory H. Wolf: "Max Lanier", in Bill Nowlin, ed.: Van Lingle Mungo: The Man, The Song, The Players, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2014, pp. 59-65. ISBN 978-1-933599-76-2

Related Sites[edit]