Tribe Provides Big Show on Joe Early Night; Indians 11, White Sox 0
Mike B. | On 18, Mar 2016
September 28, 1948
The Cleveland Indians and team president Bill Veeck like to give their fans a show on and off the field. On Tuesday evening they did just that while starting to take advantage of the American League pennant race.
Cleveland pounded out 13 hits and Gene Bearden threw a four-hit shutout to defeat the Chicago White Sox 11-0 in front of 60,405 spectators on Joe Early Night. The evening was orchestrated to honor the common fan, like Joe Early. The offensive outburst and shutout was anything but a common game on the shores of Lake Erie.
The victory, combined with afternoon losses by the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, gives the Tribe a two-game lead in the standings over both contenders with just four games remaining. If Cleveland can win three of their final four games, they will clinch the pennant, regardless of what the other two teams do.
Bearden allowed just four hits on the game. Cass Michaels led off the game with an infield single, but was quickly picked off first base by Bearden. The game quickly became more frustrating for the last place White Sox.
The Tribe gave the common fans something to cheer about right away in the first inning. Dale Mitchell hit a leadoff home run to right center field to give the Indians a 1-0 lead against White Sox starter Bill Wight. After Allie Clark lined out to left field, Lou Boudreau singled back up through the box and Joe Gordon singled to left field to set the stage. Ken Keltner laced a single to left to bring Boudreau around to score and make it 2-0.
Larry Doby, despite having a swollen elbow from being hit by Hal Newhouser on a pickoff attempt on Sunday afternoon in Detroit, slapped a single to left field to load the bases. Eddie Robinson grounded back up the middle and Wight deflected it to shortstop Luke Appling, who could only step on second base for a force out. That allowed Gordon to score and make it 3-0 before Jim Hegan grounded to third to end the eventful first inning.
Cleveland added another run in the second inning when Clark scored an unearned run. Don Kolloway threw wildly from third base to first on a Boudreau grounder. The bouncer would have ended the inning, but it instead pulled first baseman Tony Lupien from the bag and Clark was able to score to extend the lead to 4-0.
Clark had a big night, going 4-for-5 with three runs batted in, including his ninth home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth. His solo blast extended the Tribe lead to 5-0.
The Indians blew open the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when they sent eleven hitters to the plate and tallied six runs. The offensive onslaught was enough to run Wight from the game after one out in the inning, but Cleveland kept scoring against his replacement, Howie Judson.
Keltner singled to left field and Doby walked to start the inning. After Robinson bunted the two into scoring position, Hegan was intentionally walked to load the bases. However, Bearden was un-intentionally walked, forcing in a run and starting the scoring parade. Mitchell chopped a single on the infield to keep the bases loaded and extend the lead to 7-0.
That would end Wight’s evening, but Judson would fare no better. Clark welcomed him to the game with a single to center field that scored two and Boudreau singled to right field, plating another and the Indians had a 10-0 lead after Judson had faced just two batters. Gordon walked to load the bases again before Keltner flew out down the left field line deep enough for Clark to scamper home to give the Indians an 11-0 lead.
Cleveland would not score again, but didn’t need to. Wight (8-20) lasted just four and one-third innings, allowing ten runs (nine earned) on ten hits and five walks while just striking out one. Judson finished the inning, charged with just one run on two hits before giving way to Bob Gillespie. He pitched the final three innings, allowing just a hit and two walks.
Bearden (18-7), a leading contender for Rookie of the Year, went the distance for a complete game shutout. He allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out five. After the Indians’ six-run fifth inning, Bearden allowed just a ninth inning single.
The win is the Indians’ third in a row and 17th of their last 20 games. Cleveland was four and a half games out on Labor Day, but now leads the league by two games.
In addition to the show on the field, fans were treated to an appreciation before the game on Joe Early Night. Early, a war veteran and Lakewood resident, wrote a letter to Veeck earlier in the season encouraging him to honor the common fan for a night. Veeck honored Early and several other fans, inviting them down to the field prior to the game. Fans were given a steady stream of poultry and livestock, including cows, pigs, chickens and roosters that made the infield look like a county fair.
Early himself benefited the most from Veeck’s generosity. Taking the night off from guard duties at the Chevrolet plant, Early was rewarded with a 1949 Ford convertible, a console model radio phonograph, a year’s supply of gasoline and oil coupons for the new car, a refrigerator, portable radio, an Apex washing machine and a wrist watch.
“The things we’re doing for Joe just typify the feeling of the Cleveland baseball club for all you fans,” Veeck told the crowd.
On the field, the Indians presented fans with many gifts. In addition to Clark’s fine evening, Mitchell, Boudreau, Keltner and Doby each had two hits apiece as part of the 13-hit attack. Mitchell and Keltner also drove in a pair of runs, each.
The win moves Cleveland a step closer to the pennant and helps avenge losing three of four to Chicago when they visited Municipal Stadium in August. Tomorrow afternoon they’ll continue to try to win the short two-game series and move even closer to a World Series matchup with the Boston Braves.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project