Len Barker, getting the sign from Ron Hassey. Ernie Whitt stands in. Wind up, here it comes. Fly ball, center field. Manning coming on, he’s there…he catches it! Len Barker has pitched a no-hitter! A perfect game for Len Barker! The stands erupt, the players go out, Len Barker being surrounded on the field. He has made baseball history here tonight. Len Barker has pitched a perfect ball game. Faces 27 men, retires them all, eleven strikeouts. Len Barker being mobbed on the field, the Cleveland Indians win it, 3-0. – Herb Score’s call of Barker’s perfect game
It has now been 37 years since Len Barker lifted his leg high and tight on a 1-2 pitch to Toronto Blue Jays catcher Ernie Whitt, inducing a fly ball to center field. Rick Manning raced in, arms extended straight out as though he were flying. He raised both arms above his head and he secured the catch before beginning his ascent to the mound with several high hops in celebration of the 27th and final out of Barker’s perfect game.
This is the second of three installments of “After the Cleveland Indians’ 1948 Season”, the final chapter of the 1948 season review. See Part 1 here.
Bob Lemon had the first of seven 20-win seasons for the Indians in 1948. He became a mainstay of the pitching staff through the 1950s. His 1950 season was one for the ages, going 23-11 and leading the league in wins, innings (288), starts (37), complete games (22) and strikeouts (170). He won 23 games again in 1954 as the Indians rolled to the pennant. He retired in 1958 with a career record of 207-128, and had a successful career as a manager. He managed the Royals, was hired by Bill Veeck to manage the White Sox, and was named AL Manager of the Year in 1977.
After he was fired by Veeck in 1978, he became the Yankees manager, hired by George Steinbrenner and reunited with Al Rosen. The Yankees won the World Series that year and Lemon was named manager of the year again. But his son’s death in a car accident cast a pall on the 1979 season for him, and he was fired 25 games into the season. Lemon came back to manage the Yankees in 1981, as they won the pennant. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976, and his number 21 was retired by the Indians in 1998. He died in 2000.
October 11, 1948
As the Indians clinched their first World Series championship in 28 years, the celebration started on the field but spilled into the clubhouse and lasted much of the evening in Cleveland.
Clevelanders are getting used to celebrating championships as this is their third trophy in the last ten months. The Cleveland Barons hockey team won last April and the Cleveland Browns football team was champions in December. But for the Indians, the drought of 28 years seems like an eternity for veteran players and a generation of fans.
It was a special feeling for outfielder Bob Kennedy to catch the final out of the season and bring the World Series crown to Cleveland. Kennedy was dealt to Cleveland in May for outfielder Pat Seerey. Kennedy left the last place Chicago White Sox for the first place Indians.
September 28, 1948
Don Black yesterday was taken off the danger list at Charity Hospital.
Hospital attendants said that the Indians pitcher had spent his “best day” since admitted to the hospital two weeks ago after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while at bat during a ball game against the St. Louis Browns on September 13.
September 22, 1948
After 145 games, the Cleveland Indians have played many big games and key series this season. But tonight’s game is the Tribe’s newest “game of the year.”
With just nine games remaining on the schedule the Indians and Boston Red Sox will meet for the 22nd and final time this season. Currently, the Red Sox lead the Indians by one game in the American League pennant chase. A win tonight for Cleveland will tie them with Boston in the standings with an eight-game sprint remaining to the marathon season. A loss by the Tribe and they’ll be two back with just eight to play and a much more difficult road to the flag.
September 17, 1948
While Indians pitcher Don Black remains hospitalized at Charity Hospital in Cleveland while recuperating from a brain hemorrhage suffered during an at bat on Monday, the Cleveland Indians organization has reached out to help out their fallen player.
Friday morning, the Indians announced that Black would share in the receipts from the matchup between Cleveland and the Boston Red Sox in the first game of their series this coming Wednesday.
September 16, 1948
Cleveland Indians pitcher Don Black continues to show signs of improvement from the sudden illness that put him into a coma during the game on Monday.
The concern has been widespread throughout the city of Cleveland by both fans of the Indians and others who have no expressed interest in baseball.
September 15, 1948
Indians pitcher Don Black is on the mound in the toughest fight of his career and, more importantly, his life.
He may be winning.
Late Tuesday evening shortly before 11 PM, his wife, Joyce Black, was sent home to get some sleep. She had remained with him throughout the entire ordeal.