By Vince Guerrieri
The 1948 Indians had a formidable pitching lineup, including future hall of famers Bob Feller and Bob Lemon. Satchel Paige, a midseason signing and another future hall of famer, won six games down the stretch for the Indians. But 63 years ago today, on Oct. 4, 1948, player-manager Lou Boudreau went with Gene Bearden for the Indians’ 155th game of the year.
The Tribe would be playing the Boston Red Sox in a tiebreaker game at Fenway Park, in the first playoff in American League history. Bearden, a rookie knuckleballer, had won 19 games that season, but he was pitching on just a day’s rest, and as a lefthander, would have a tougher go of it at Fenway, with its short left field.
Equally mystifying was Boston manager Joe McCarthy’s choice for starting pitcher: Denny Galehouse. Both Mel Parnell (who won 20 games that year, including three over the Indians) and Ellis Kinder said they could pitch, but McCarthy went with the former Browns right-hander.
Boudreau hit a solo home run off Galehouse in the top of the first inning, staking Bearden to a lead. Vern Stephens drove in Bobby Doerr to tie the game after one. In the fourth, with two on, Ken Keltner homered over the Green Monster, giving the Indians a 4-1 lead and chasing Galehouse.
Kinder, who would later make a name for himself as a reliever for the Red Sox, gave up a double to Larry Doby, who would come around and score. Boudreau went on to hit another home run, and Keltner finished the game a triple shy of the cycle.
Bearden went the distance for the win, 8-3 by the Indians, clinching their first World Series appearance in 28 years.