Join Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to Opening Day!
Countdown to Opening Day – 4
For the first time since 2011, the number four will be missing in action on the diamond when the Cleveland Indians open the season.
Over the last few years, it has found its way onto the backs of veteran players on the roster, including both Juan Uribe and Coco Crisp last season and Mike Aviles for each of the three seasons before them, but it has rarely been used in recent years by a player making significant impacts on the outcomes of games on a nightly basis.
Despite being a low number and typically a digit that would be more frequently used, the number four has gone through some droughts in Cleveland history.
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.
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.
October 11, 1948
The Cleveland Indians are World Series Champions.
October 7, 1948
Bob Lemon overcame a first inning unearned run and went the distance for Cleveland, as the Indians chased Boston’s Warren Spahn early in a 4-1 victory on Thursday to even the World Series at one game apiece.
The Braves struck first in the first against the Indians’ Lemon on yet another debatable call from umpire Bill Stewart. The inning’s second hitter, Al Dark, reached safely at first base on an error at second by Joe Gordon. Gordon initially fumbled with the ground ball, but recovered in time to throw to first. It appeared Stewart called Dark safe even before he or the ball reached the bag but, despite some protesting on the field by the Indians, the call remained. Dark moved up to third base as Earl Torgeson singled to right. Bob Elliott, Boston’s RBI leader, drove Dark home with a single to left to give Boston the early 1-0 lead.
With two on and just one out, Lemon picked off Torgeson from second with Marv Rickert at the plate. The threat now diffused, Lemon struck Rickert out to end the inning.
“Sure, there were a few butterflies in my stomach when I walked out there for the first inning,” said Lemon in the Cleveland dressing room, “but they disappeared with the first pitch.”