Cleveland needs a winner.
Cleveland sports fans are unique in many ways, loyal to their teams when most fans would have abandoned ship a long time ago. The town has not had a playoff team in any sport since 2010 and hosts a generation of heartache for most fans that dates back to the early 1980s. It seems ESPN and other sports networks have Cleveland’s pain saved in their reels and ready to press play as soon as it becomes applicable again.
But there was a time when Cleveland was on top of the sports world. The major markets weren’t quite good enough to take down Cleveland in hockey, football or baseball, and the city held championships in each sport.
The year was 1948.
The Cleveland Indians had a new, energetic owner dedicated to winning, the biggest and newest stadium in baseball, a strong pitching staff — complete with a surprising rookie performance — and an offense full of power, ready to set new home run records. However, they also had their problems, including a young manager who might not be able to lead the team to the championship, a star veteran pitcher showing his first signs of mortality and two more pitchers battling serious illnesses during the season. None of that includes the team becoming the first American League team to integrate and deal with racial issues.
Since Did The Tribe Win Last Night was born more than two years ago, we’ve learned that every day has a new storyline or topic surrounding the Indians. We’ve covered trades, free agent signings, a manager on the hot seat, lineup shakeups and a pennant race. Every day of a season matters and impacts the greater whole of leading to a potential playoff spot.
These storylines were just as frequent and compelling in 1948. Now that 65 seasons are nearly in the record books since the Indians’ last championship season, many of those day-to-day stories have been lost through generations. About five months ago, some of us at DTTWLN started to research and dig through the 1948 season, and the news and information we found was compelling.
We began to wonder how Bill Veeck, Lou Boudreau, Bob Feller and the rest of the 1948 Indians would have fit into a modern, social media-driven world filled with blogs and Twitter. In a matter of weeks, we began re-writing and preparing Did The Tribe Win Last Night 1948, a modernized retelling of the Cleveland Indians’ last World Series championship season.
Beginning Sept. 22, Did The Tribe Win Last Night 1948 will become a day-by-day recounting of the 1948 Cleveland Indians season, written by our staff as breaking news, based off published reports of the day from the Cleveland Press, Plain Dealer and other references. We will report 1948 news on this site as if it is happening live, including through our Twitter handles (@didtribewin1948, @Lou_Boudreau, @Bob_Feller19, @Bob_Lemon21, @Ken_Keltner6 and @RChristopher48) that will provide in-game updates, player profiles and interaction with the intent to bring the day-to-day stories of the 1948 season back to life.
All information and news reported on Did The Tribe Win Last Night 1948 is believed to be accurate and correct from our research. However, we have made a couple of revisions in an attempt to modernize and be politically correct in our current society. In 1948, the Indians were often referred to as “Redskins,” in newspaper accounts. We’ve elected to refer to them as the Indians, or as we do in the modern day, the Tribe. The same modernization is true for descriptions of Larry Doby and Satchel Paige. Newspapers often referred to them as Negros, however, we have elected to use African-American when mention or discussion of race is necessary.
Finally, our posts might be a little longer at times, as we mention newsworthy information that we might skip over in the modern day when it would be covered by multiple blogs and news outlets.
We hope you enjoy reading — or re-reading — about the 1948 season as much as we enjoyed re-writing it. I think most Indians fans can choose to follow the events daily, or occasionally. Beginning Sept. 22, we will have daily posts through March 20 covering every game, plus storylines on and off the field, including player interviews and profiles. We’ve written over 300 posts for Did The Tribe Win Last Night 1948. Like most seasons, Indians fans can miss a day or two and jump right back into the season. Our posts and updates are categorized and marked chronologically so that readers can be brought back up to speed in the season very quickly.
Lastly, as part of the modernization of this project, we need your help. We will post stories on our Facebook page and on Twitter. In order for social media to be truly effective, we need interaction. Encourage your Twitter followers to follow our accounts and interact with us (train rides get long for the players and they’ll be happy to talk with fans). Tweet during games and Tweet to players before and after games, just as you do your favorite modern stars. Be sure to use #48Replay when discussing the 1948 season online.
We are very excited about the #48Replay beginning on Sept. 22 when Did The Tribe Last Night 1948 will go back in time to April 18, 1948. Bob Feller will take the mound two days later against the St. Louis Browns at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and the season will be off and running. We hope you invest in the 1948 season like any other Indians’ season and learn more about Bill Veeck, Lou Boudreau, Larry Doby, Bob Feller and Bob Lemon and meet players like Dale Mitchell, Ken Keltner, Eddie Robinson, Don Black and Russ Christopher.
Hopefully you enjoy the in-depth look back into a chapter of Indians history in which your grandfather skipped school and your great-grandfather was a war hero. The stories they’ve shared with us over the last generation come back to life as best as we can re-create them.
And for the first time in many of our lives, we get to experience a parade.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project