May 30, 1948
It was recently announced that the United States is going to send a rhesus monkey named Albert into space on a V2 rocket sometime this June. If you heard of this while attending Sunday’s second game at Comiskey Park, it was only the second craziest news of your day.
The Cleveland Indians used a nine-run eighth inning to come back and defeat the Chicago White Sox in the second game of a doubleheader, 13-8.
To make matters even more outlandish, the Indians used 21 players in the ballgame, lost a player to injury, had their player/manager/shortstop Lou Boudreau put on his catcher’s gear for the final two innings of the contest and pitched a man two innings out of the bullpen who had thrown nine innings the day prior. The Tribe pulled out all the stops Sunday evening and ended up pulling out a victory in the process.
To start the game, the Tribe went with rookie Bill Kennedy, who is quickly pitching himself out of the rotation with yet another bad outing. Kennedy lasted only one-third of an inning, allowed three walks and four earned runs to raise his ERA to a pathetic 8.44. To make things even crazier, Kennedy was not the worst pitcher of the first inning for the Tribe, and Cleveland actually had the lead until the fifth batter of the frame.
The Tribe had taken an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first, when Chicago starter Bob Gillespie’s defense let him down. After Gillespie had retired the first two batters of the game, Wally Judnich dribbled an infield single toward third base. Judnich advanced to second base when Floyd Baker threw wide and past the first baseman for an E-5. Boudreau then made the Pale Hose pay for their mistake when he singled Judnich home for a 1-0 Cleveland lead. Boudreau, who had advanced to second on a throw to the plate, moved to third base on a passed ball and then Ken Keltner extended the inning with a walk. To make matters worse for Gillespie, Eddie Robinson drove in the Indians second run when he reached on an error by first baseman Tony Lupien. The Tribe had taken the lead on two giftwrapped, unearned runs.
Unfortunately, Kennedy gave them — and more — right back to the Sox.
Both Floyd Baker and Dave Philley drew walks to lead off the bottom of the first inning to jump-start the Chicago rally. Lupien sacrificed the runners to third with a bunt and Taffy Wright followed with Kennedy’s third walk in four batters. Bob Kennedy was not as patient, but was even more effective when he lined Kennedy’s pitch into left for a double and a 2-2 tie with only one out in the inning. The line drive and wildness forced Boudreau to pull his starter far earlier than expected.
Boudreau summoned Al Gettel from relief and Gettel fared even worse than Kennedy. After intentionally walking Don Kolloway to load the bases, Cass Michaels lined a single into right to score two more runs and gave the White Sox a 4-2 lead. A poor decision on a fielder’s choice loaded the bases without recording an out next, and then Gettel walked the pitcher Gillespie to bring home the fifth run of the inning. After that, Boudreau went to his third pitcher of the inning.
Steve Gromek came in and got Baker to hit a sacrifice fly for the second out, but the White Sox took a 6-2 lead with it. A popup to the second baseman ended the long first frame and things only got wilder from there.
In stark contrast to the first inning, the next three frames were dominated by pitching, as Gillespie, Gromek and another Cleveland reliever — Ed Klieman — tossed up zero after zero. Another run wasn’t scored until the fifth, when the Indians got one back.
Judnich started the threat with a one-out single to right and was moved to second on a groundout by Boudreau. Keltner then drove Judnich home with a single himself, and the score was now 6-3 in favor of Chicago.
The Indians got another run back the very next inning when Johnny Berardino led off the sixth with a triple. Berardino scored when pinch hitter Hal Peck singled off of Gillespie to cut the score to 6-4.
When Peck pinch hit, he did so for Klieman, forcing Boudreau to go back to his bullpen. This time, he called upon Bob Lemon, the pitcher who threw a complete game shutout just one day before. Lemon, who extended his scoreless innings streak to 25, held the White Sox at bay over the next two innings and allowed the Tribe to comeback with their wacky eighth.
The madness started when Keltner and Robinson ran Gillespie from the ballgame with back to back singles to start the inning. Earl Caldwell entered and walked Berardino to load the bases with nobody out. Allie Clark then pinch hit for catcher Jim Hegan, and Clark responded by lining a single to left scoring Keltner.
With the White Sox lead at one and the bases still loaded with no outs, Sox skipper Ted Lyons went back to his bullpen for Jim Goodwin, who was in to face injured pinch hitter Joe Gordon. Goodwin forced Gordon to pop out to short, giving the White Sox a chance of escaping with the lead intact. It was not to be, however, as Dale Mitchell reached on an error, scoring Thurman Tucker — another injured Indian who had just been put in to pinch run for Robinson — and Berardino to give the Indians a 7-6 lead. Larry Doby reloaded the bases with a walk, and Judnich drove in the Indians eighth run with another. With that, Lyons went back to his bullpen for the third time in the inning and called upon Earl Harrist to try and stop the bleeding.
Perhaps not fully warmed up, Harrist followed his team’s poor trend by walking Boudreau to force in the Indians eighth run. He then got Keltner to fly out for the second out of the inning, but then hit pinch hitter Joe Tipton with a pitch, forcing in a run and injuring the Indians only backup catcher. Pat Seerey was brought in to pinch run for Tipton and the lack of a catcher is why Boudreau was forced to play the eighth and ninth innings behind the dish.
The Indians finally put a cap on the scoring for their wild eighth inning when Berardino and Clark both smacked singles to make the score 13-6. Berardino’s base knock scored two and Clark’s plated one. The inning mercifully came to an end when Gordon flew out to left for the third out.
The crazy inning featured nine Cleveland runs, five hits, four walks, one hit by pitch, one error and nine substitutions between the two teams. With a 13-6 lead, Lemon was now set up to win his league leading seventh game of the season and his second in as many days.
Relief pitcher Russ Christopher came in out of the bullpen and worked the eighth and ninth innings for the Tribe. He allowed two runs in the ninth, the big blow being a double by Hodgin. The final score ended up 13-8. Suddenly, a monkey on a rocket ship doesn’t sound so crazy after all.
The Indians (22-10) will turn around and play two more against the St. Louis Browns on Monday for a Memorial Day special doubleheader. The back to back twin-bills will certainly test the mettle of the team as well as its durability. Hegan, who caught seven innings Sunday, is expected to catch both games of the double-dip. The Indians will throw rookie Gene Beardon (3-1, 0.78) in game one and Bob Muncrief (1-0, 3.75) in game two. The Browns will counter with Ray Shore (0-0, 2.45) and Cliff Fannin (1-4, 6.49).
Game one is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. at the Stadium, giving fans plenty of time to attend after their parades. Suburban festivals in East Cleveland, Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, Rocky River, Parma, Fairview, Solon and South Euclid are all scheduled to start between 9 and 11:30 a.m. The Naval Services at the East 9th Street Pier is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project