When the Tigers and Indians met at Briggs Stadium in Detroit for the 1937 season finale on October 3, the American League standings were pretty much locked in.
The Tigers were a distant second – 13 games behind the pennant (and ultimately World Series) winning Yankees, and the Indians were five games behind the Tigers. Detroit’s Charlie Gehringer had sewn up the batting title with a .373 average, 21 points higher than the second-place finisher, Lou Gehrig.
But there were still a couple records at stake. The Tigers’ slugging first baseman Hank Greenberg – with the benefit of batting cleanup behind Gehringer in the Tigers’ lineup – had 182 RBI, two away from the American League record set by Gehrig six years earlier (the major league record of 191, set by the Cubs’ Hack Wilson, was likely out of reach). And Indians starter Johnny Allen was looking to tie a record as well. Allen had won his previous 15 starts, and a win that day would tie him for the American League mark with Lefty Grove, who had won 16 in a row in 1931, when he won 31 games, a career best.
Longtime Detroit Tigers slugger Hank Greenberg, coming off of a season in Pittsburgh and time in spring camp with the Indians, makes a substantial financial investment in the Cleveland franchise and assumes the title and duties of second vice-president after a breakfast meeting in Los Angeles with team owner Bill Veeck.
The 1948 World Championship was the crowning moment in Bill Veeck’s career as an owner – and one of the loneliest in his life. Veeck would own another pennant winner, but no other world champion. On September 23, 1949, he led a funeral procession out to the outfield to bury the pennant, with the Indians mathematically eliminated from the race. That fall, Veeck’s wife Eleanore filed for divorce, and Veeck was forced to sell the team to pay for it.
In 1951, Veeck, newly married, bought the St. Louis Browns. His idea was to run off the Cardinals, and with a mix of his own wacky promotions and Cardinals owner Fred Saigh’s income tax problems, it appeared he might do so. But Saigh sold the team to Gussie Busch, heir to the brewing fortune and a St. Louis institution. Veeck sought to move the team to Baltimore, but was blocked by baseball owners and was forced to sell the team – which then moved to Baltimore.
April 21, 1948
The last few months have been eventful for long-time big leaguer Hank Greenberg.
The Cleveland Indians spent the majority of the spring trying to determine what capacity Hammering Hank would serve with the ball club. He entered Spring Training as a potential candidate to fill one of the vacancies on the roster. As the spring progressed, the need for him to play the field appeared to be less and less the focus of the team.
With a new title and a new emphasis on working at the higher levels of the organization, has the playing career of the legendary Greenberg come to an end?
Longtime Detroit Tigers slugger Hank Greenberg, coming off of a season in Pittsburgh, is hired as the Indians’ farm club director by owner Bill Veeck.
Greenberg, who had been in camp with Cleveland with hopes of keeping his playing career …
Two years ago, the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera became the first major league baseball player to win the offensive triple crown – leading the league in home runs, runs batted in and batting average – since Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1967.
No Indians player has ever won the triple crown, but in 1953, Al Rosen came close – and some say he was cheated out of it by another former Indian.
Rosen made his debut with the Indians in 1948, and spent part of that season and the next in the majors. By 1950, he was the team’s starting third baseman, and demonstrated his power hitting ability by setting what was then a rookie record with 37 home runs.