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.
October 10, 1948
This afternoon, Indians fans proved that they are some of the most passionate and patient fans.
While the two may not go together, the record-setting crowd of 86,288 packed Cleveland Stadium for the Tribe’s first World Series crown in 28 years, but instead will have to wait at least another day. The fans’ patience was tested again today just as they were a week ago when Cleveland had chances to clinch the pennant but could not.
Instead, the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game saw its best pitcher of this generation get tagged for seven runs from the Boston Braves in six and one-third innings. Bob Feller fell behind early and could not hold the lead when Cleveland battled back, eventually falling in a rout in Game Five, 11-5.
October 1, 1948
Indians manager Lou Boudreau was clear after the game that his team was not tight on the field this afternoon. If they weren’t, they might have reason to be tight now.
Cleveland held a one-run lead with just two outs to go in Friday’s game against the Detroit Tigers before three walks and two errors set the Tribe back, 5-3, at Municipal Stadium in front of 15,988. Had the Indians won, they would have assured themselves at least a tie for the American League pennant.
“No, the team wasn’t tightened up,” Boudreau said after the game. “The breaks went against us in the late innings.”
September 20, 1948
It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective in earning the necessary result.
It’s the best way to describe the Cleveland Indians and rookie left-hander Gene Bearden’s effort on Monday night. The southpaw and Purple Heart recipient matched up with fellow war hero Lou Brissie and earned the win 6-3 in front of 44,442 patrons at Municipal Stadium.
Bearden pitched the Tribe into the seventh inning but needed help from reliever Russ Christopher to complete the contest. It wasn’t Bearden’s best performance of his 16 wins this season, but it was enough to beat the struggling Athletics and keep the Tribe a half game behind Boston for first place in the standings and a half game ahead of third place New York. Each team won their game this evening.
September 19, 1948
On the final Sunday of scheduled American League twin bills, the Cleveland Indians made more attendance history and gave the fans a reason to keep hope alive in the pennant race.
In front of 75,382 spectators, setting a new single-season attendance mark, Larry Doby hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to break a deadlock between the Philadelphia Athletics and Indians. Doby’s homer gave the Indians a 5-3 victory in the first game of the twin bill. The win was the first registered on the center field scoreboard among the Tribe, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The other two teams remain tied in the late innings of their first games today.
September 14, 1948
For even the biggest believers in the Cleveland Indians, the pennant hopes for 1948 are starting to flicker a little less brightly.
This afternoon the Indians lost their final matchup of the season with the New York Yankees, losing 6-5 in front of 34,064 fans at Cleveland Stadium. Bob Lemon suffered his third loss of the season against the Bronx Bombers when he couldn’t survive a four-run rally by New York in the seventh inning. Eddie Lopat, the Tribe’s nemesis for years, logged his fifth win of the season against Cleveland.
The loss for Cleveland drops them four games back of league leading Boston and two back of the Yankees, who seem cozy in second place. With only 15 games remaining, overcoming a four-game deficit and chasing down two teams seems to be a more daunting task with each passing day.
September 13, 1948
The Indians blew a 2-0 lead, allowing two runs in the eighth inning to tie the game and another in the ninth to lose a heart-breaking game, 3-2, to the St. Louis Browns in a pennant race where every game matters.
Yet, it all seemed secondary or trivial after the bottom of the second inning.
Indians starting pitcher Don Black collapsed during his first at bat and was helped from the field by his teammates after suffering an apparent brain hemorrhage. Black was Cleveland’s spot starter in the replay of Sunday afternoon’s 3-3 tie that was called due to darkness. During his at bat Black fouled a ball off from Browns’ starting pitcher Bill Kennedy, then staggered back a step or two before collapsing.
September 12, 1948
In baseball, sometimes you win and some times you lose. But you don’t tie.
Yet that’s just what the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns did this afternoon at the stadium. Cleveland plated three early runs, but only managed two hits in the final ten innings of play, leaving the winning run in scoring position on several accounts. The game was halted after 12 innings around 7:30 p.m. due to darkness.
September 4, 1948
In a season that appears will go down to the final games or innings, the Indians may have several unfortunate moments to point back to if the pennant does not go their way.
Another one of those moments may have taken place in the fifth inning on Saturday afternoon when the St. Louis Browns erupted for three runs against Tribe starter Satchel Paige. It was the only inning the lowly Browns scored in regulation, but that outburst and a well-pitched game by Ned Garver, was enough to push the game to extras where the Browns won 4-3 in ten innings in front of 17,092.
August 29, 1948
While in the thick of the pennant race in the American League over the last few weeks, the Cleveland Indians have begun to make it a frustrating habit to be charitable to some of the league’s worst teams.
In six recent games against the lowly White Sox and Senators, the Indians went 2-4.
What may be even more discouraging are the wins lost against the top teams in the American League because the relief corps is failing to provide any relief. Instead of gaining ground in the standings and saving close wins, the team has been repeatedly dealt devastating losses in potentially winnable ball games.
August 26, 1948
In a best-of-three series for first place in the American League with the Boston Red Sox this week, the Indians could easily lay claim to victory in two games. However, while they beat the Red Sox yesterday, they beat themselves today.
The Tribe made just one error on the scoreboard, but several fundamental mistakes by the Indians resulted in an early deficit. After battling back to tie the game in the top of the eighth inning, Boston erupted for a big inning against a tired Gene Bearden. Bobby Doerr’s three-run homer broke the tie and gave Boston a lead they would never look back from, winning 8-4 in the series finale. Had Bearden, and his mates, provided better defense in the first seven innings, he may have had more stamina for the later innings.