Slaughter was a lefthanded batter who hit .300 or better ten times, a superb outfielder with a deadly accurate throwing arm, and the quintessential hustler. While playing for the Columbus, Georgia, Redbirds (Sally League) in 1936, Slaughter was rebuked for not hustling by manager Eddie Dyer, and he vowed never again to walk while on a ball field.
Slaughter had an unusually swift rise through the vast Cardinal farm system. When he arrived in St. Louis in 1938, he was making $400 a month, but when he learned the Cubs had offered $100,000 for him, he persuaded the Cardinals to give him a $200 raise. He led the NL with 52 doubles in 1939 and with 188 hits in 1942, and led in triples in 1942 and 1949. He captured the league RBI title with 130 in 1946. He had extra-base power to all fields, and his level swing made him a fine contact hitter and a good man in the clutch; he spoiled three no-hitters. In 1947 he knocked in ten runs in a doubleheader.
Slaughter was the leader of and top hitter (.318) on the 1942 World Championship Cardinals. In the deciding game of the 1946 Series, he made his electrifying mad dash home from first on Harry Walker’s hit, scoring the winning run as Boston shortstop Johnny Pesky hesitated making the relay throw.
Slaughter, who was a North Carolina tobacco farmer, and fellow Southerner Terry Moore tried to persuade their Cardinal teammates to go on strike in May 1947 to protest Jackie Robinson‘s admittance to the National League. Though his strike plans were thwarted, Slaughter expressed his attitude that August. Robinson was playing first base for the Dodgers when Slaughter hit an infield ground ball and was thrown out by several steps. With Robinson stretched out to make the catch, Slaughter spiked him in the leg.
Slaughter split the 1955 season between New York and Kansas City, leading the AL with 16 pinch hits. He was with the Yankees for their 1956, ’57, and ’58 pennants. He had 48 pinch at-bats in each of his last two seasons, leading the AL in 1958. In 1985 he was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.