Posts By Vince Guerrieri
On July 14, 1946, Ted Williams was tearing the cover off the ball against the Indians.
In the first half of a doubleheader at Fenway Park, Williams knocked in eight runs, and the Red Sox needed every one of them in an 11-10 win over the Tribe. In the second game, Indians player-manager Lou Boudreau had an idea.
Left fielder George Case was left in his position, while Boudreau and third baseman Ken Keltner moved over to the right side of the infield. First baseman Jimmy Wasdell was right down the line, third baseman Ken Keltner was just inside second base, and Boudreau was between them. Second baseman Jack Conway was in shallow right, behind Wasdell.
On May 15, 1941, Joe DiMaggio began a hitting streak with a single against the Chicago White Sox. Two months later, DiMaggio’s streak had stretched to 56 games when he smashed a double and two singles against the Cleveland Indians at League Park on July 16, 1941. DiMaggio had overtaken the modern major league record of 41 games by George Sisler, and Wee Willie Keeler’s ancient mark of 44 games.
Over the weekend, Marquis Grissom was all smiles in his appearance in the Rally Alley behind Progressive Field.
But when Grissom first arrived in Cleveland to don an Indians uniform, the move was met with shock and maybe a little …
He was the original Hammerin’ Hank. In the less enlightened time when he played, he was also known as the Hebrew Hammer.
But after a lengthy and successful career – almost exclusively with the Detroit Tigers – Hank Greenberg came to Cleveland and left his mark on the Indians.
After the 1947 season – the only one he played with the Pittsburgh Pirates – Greenberg’s playing career ended. He retired with a career .313 batting average and 331 home runs – a number which could have vastly increased had Greenberg not lost the bulk of four seasons to service in the Army Air Forces in World War II.
He started out as a third baseman for the Indians, getting a cup of coffee in the majors before serving in the Navy in World War II. But Bob Lemon became a pitcher after the war – and one of the best of his era.
In 1946, he was the Tribe’s opening day center fielder, but he went 4-5 as a pitcher, the only losing season he’d have on the mound until 1957. Lemon won 20 games in a season seven times, including 1948, when the Indians won the World Series, and 1954, when they won the pennant. In his career, Lemon led the American League in complete games five times, innings pitched four times, wins three times and shutouts and strikeouts once each.
Sometimes, baseball nicknames can be creative. Sometimes they’re almost organic – flowing like hair on a 1970s Athletics player.
Rusty Staub was bestowed with the nickname “Le Grand Orange” for his hair color by admiring fans in Montreal. Dorrel Herzog and Edward Ford were both nicknamed Whitey. And how many players became known as Red for their hair color (or, in the case of a “Cheers” one-liner, because they read a book)?
Charlie Manuel’s red locks and torrid hitting led him to acquire another nickname while he was playing baseball in Japan: Aka Oni, or the Red Devil.
The Indians’ comeback against the Tigers came up short Thursday, depriving Ryan Raburn of becoming the first position player in a year to get a win as a pitcher.
Raburn’s 1-2-3 ninth was the last time the Tigers faced Indians …
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: After a miserable year, the Indians spend some money, work the offseason and get a highly-touted new manager.
Sure, it describes this year. But it also describes the 1968 Indians, one of the few good baseball teams in Cleveland between the pennant contenders of the 1950s, and the renaissance years of the 1990s.
The 1967 Indians finished eighth in the American League, their worst spot in more than 50 years since 1914. (That was the team that lost 24 games in a month, a feat unequaled by the Indians until August 2012.) Out went Joe Adcock as Indians manager, and in came Alvin Dark.
There are some trades where both teams benefit.
And there are some trades where a team benefits in the short run – but loses out long term.
In 1987, with the trade deadline looming, the Tigers were looking for a starting pitcher, and dealt a prospect to the lowly Atlanta Braves for Doyle Alexander, who went 9-0 for the Motor City Kitties as they won the American League East on the last day of the season. But Alexander went 0-2 in the American League Championship Series as the Braves beat the Tigers and went on to win the World Series. The prospect dealt from Detroit was Michigan native John Smoltz, who went on to become one of the best pitchers in the 1990s, and compiled 200 wins, 150 saves and 3,000 strikeouts in his career.
This year’s Indians team has become known for its ability to score runs with two outs.
But on July 7, 1923, the Indians set a major league record for some two-out magic, scoring 13 runs against the Red Sox.
The Tribe was holding on to an 11-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth over the Crimson Hose in the first game of a doubleheader at League Park. Catcher Steve O’Neill drew a walk, and pitcher Stan Coveleski hit a fielder’s choice. The Red Sox took out O’Neill at second, and Coveleski was on first base.
There was a time when true doubleheaders – buying one ticket to watch two games – were a common occurrence.
In 1950, the Indians played 25 twin bills, including one memorable one June 11 at Cleveland Stadium that saw the Tribe score 28 runs in a sweep of the Philadelphia Athletics.
Bob Feller took the mound for the first game, and pitched a gem. After giving up a one-out single to Wally Moses in the first, Rapid Robert would give up just one more hit, a single in the eight to Mike Guerra. Feller walked Ferris Fain twice, and pitched his first shutout since 1948, prompting newspaper accounts of the day to say that fans got a glimpse of Feller’s old form.