The Cleveland Indians add a pair of players in a five-player swap with the Washington Senators, acquiring pitcher Early Wynn and first baseman Mickey Vernon for pitchers Joe Haynes and Ed Klieman and first baseman Eddie Robinson.
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 2, 1948
What has seemed imminent for days is still not official, but now is a little closer.
This afternoon the Indians beat the Detroit Tigers, 8-0, in front of 56,235 anxious spectators and did not clinch the American League pennant, but assured themselves of at least a tie. Cleveland used a five-run fifth inning and an eight-hit shutout from rookie left-hander Gene Bearden.
Cleveland’s victory moves them to 96-57 in the standings while holding a one-game lead over the Boston Red Sox as the two teams head to the last day of the season. Boston defeated the New York Yankees 5-1 in Fenway Park to eliminate the Yankees from contention. After 153 games, the tightest American League pennant race in history is finally just a two-team race.
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.
September 25, 1948
With playoff scenarios for tie-breakers set a day ago, every game is starting to feel like a one-game playoff for survival in the American League pennant race.
Today, the Indians won their most recent survival game, defeating the Detroit Tigers 9-3 in front of 30,087 spectators at Briggs Stadium. The Tribe used a stellar pitching performance from Gene Bearden, who did not allow a hit until the sixth inning, and 14 hits from the offense to take control early against five different Tiger hurlers. Cleveland’s five-run fifth inning put the contest away early.
September 9, 1948
Sam Zoldak (9-9, 3.64) could probably get used to this, as the Indians left-hander vultured his second extra inning win in as many days when the Indians used 13 frames to beat the Detroit Tigers by a score of 3-2.
The game promised to be a good pitcher’s duel and turned out to be just that, as Bob Feller and Hal Newhouser locked horns in a battle of All-Stars. Indians reliever Satchel Paige was unable to hold a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning, but Zoldak shut the Tigers offense down out of the bullpen for the second straight game until Eddie Robinson got the game-winning single in the 13th. The Robinson knock scored third baseman Ken Keltner, who was honored this evening at the Stadium for spending ten years with the Indians organization.
September 3, 1948
The Cleveland Indians ran their winning streak to four games this afternoon, handling the St. Louis Browns by a score of 7-0 in the first half of a Friday night twi-night doubleheader at Sportsman’s Park.
Bob Lemon threw his third straight shutout, earning his 19th win of the season and the Indians used three home runs to keep their streak going. Lemon’s shutout ran a personal scoreless streak to 28 innings. He’s thrown four shutouts in the last five starts and has not allowed a run in 45 of the last 46 innings he’s thrown.
August 30, 1948
Lots of early run support gave Indians Satchel Paige plenty of room to pitch, as Cleveland walloped Washington, 10-1, on Monday evening to earn a series win.
Paige (6-1), making his fifth start of the season for the Indians, was solid. He went the distance, keeping the ball out of a battered Cleveland bullpen for at least a day. He issued one walk with seven hits and allowed just one Senators player to cross home plate successfully. Washington logged just three of those hits prior to the eighth inning. He struck out five batters and lowered his season ERA to 1.66.
August 29, 1948
Cleveland squandered an early lead and a chance to make up ground in the division, as the Washington Senators took the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader by a 5-2 final.
The loss for the Indians, paired with splits of respective doubleheaders for both Boston and New York, left Cleveland two games in back of the Red Sox and a half-game behind the Yankees.
The Indians jumped on top in the second off of Washington’s Early Wynn.
August 27, 1948
With a Friday doubleheader in New York to make up a previous rain out, it looked like the Indians had a chance to tie the Boston Red Sox for first place this afternoon with a free game to make ground.
Boston won their game this afternoon against the Chicago White Sox, keeping a half game ahead when the Indians won the first game in the Bronx, 8-1, but the BoSox from Beantown would be defenseless as they sit idle tonight to another Indians’ win. However, sometimes the best defense is none at all. The Indians fell behind early and never recovered, losing to the Yankees 7-2 in the second game of the twin bill.
August 25, 1948
Every time it looks like it could be the end of the road for the Cleveland Indians they seem to come back stronger.
After a devastating defeat last night at Fenway Park, the Indians rebounded this afternoon for a commanding 9-0 victory in front of 30,745 Boston faithful. Cleveland’s victory moves them back into first place by a half game over the Red Sox in this tightly-contested, high-pressure series. The Tribe struck for seven runs in the first four innings, sending Boston starter Denny Galehouse to the showers quickly and many Boston fans home early due to the extreme heat.
August 24, 1948
In a best-of-three battle for the right to first place entering the last month of the season, the two teams looked as evenly as matched as possible as the top two contenders in a heavyweight battle. However, the Boston Red Sox struck the final hit with a one-out, two-run homer by Vern Stephens in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Boston a 9-8 walkoff win over the Indians.
The final blast was the result of two floundering bullpens in the final two innings. More importantly, when part of the 34,172 fans in attendance stormed onto the field tonight to celebrate and carry Stephens off the field, they carried the rights to first place too. The blast was Stephens’ 27th home run of the season and league leading 115th RBI. Stephens’ biggest hit of the season came off the only pitch Russ Christopher threw.