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.
The Tribe and Mackmen hooked up in a back and forth battle, scratching for runs all afternoon. Indians ace Bob Lemon and Athletics hurler Carl Schieb were both keeping batters off balance with all their pitches.
Cleveland took an early lead in the bottom of the second inning when Joe Gordon hit his team-leading 28th home run. The solo blast, landing in the standing room only area beyond the left field fence, gave the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Philadelphia answered right back in the top of the third inning when Pete Suder singled to left field to start the inning and advanced to second base with two outs on a grounder by Eddie Joost. Barney McCosky singled through the infield and into center field to bring Suder around and tie the game at one apiece.
In the bottom of the third inning the Indians took back the lead. Jim Hegan doubled to left field to start the inning and advanced to third when Lemon grounded to the right side. Hegan trotted home after Dale Mitchell flew out to center field and gave the Indians a 2-1 lead.
Cleveland added another run in the fourth inning when Lou Boudreau started the frame with a single. Gordon grounded weakly to third base, advancing Boudreau to second base. Ken Keltner flew out to center field and Doby walked before Wally Judnich singled to right field, allowing Boudreau to hustle home and extend the Indians lead to 3-1.
Scheib helped himself at the plate in the top of the fifth inning. Suder singled to center field to start the inning and Schieb—who could have been pinch-hit for—doubled to center field and put a pair in scoring position with no one out. Joost grounded out to third base, but Suder was able to score on the play, cutting the Tribe’s lead to just 3-2. Lemon calmed down and retired McCosky and Ferris Fain to end the inning and minimize the damage.
Scheib and Lemon, who had each danced around big innings all afternoon, then settled in setting down the opposition in order the next two innings. Each pitcher allowed a single in the seventh with two outs that did not amount to a scoring threat.
However, in the top of the eighth inning Philadelphia chased Lemon from the game and tied the score. McCosky doubled to right field to start the inning and came home an out later when Hank Majeski doubled to right-center field. Majeski’s double tied the game at three. After Sam Chapman was intentionally walked and Eddie Valo singled to left field, but Majeski could not get past third and Chapman was trapped and retired. Lemon then intentionally walked pinch-hitter Ray Coleman to load the bases before Boudreau sent his ace pitcher to the showers.
Russ Christopher came on the scene getting Suder to pop up to Hegan to end the inning and leave Mackmen all over the basepaths.
Lemon took a no-decision, pitching seven and two-third innings, and allowing three runs on nine hits and three walks, while striking out three. If Lemon had won his 21st game of the season, he would have tied Boston Braves’ hurler Johnny Sain for the majors’ lead.
Cleveland went quietly in the bottom of the eighth inning against Scheib while Christopher used a double play to escape two singles in the top of the ninth. Hegan threw McCosky out at second base to end the inning and keep the score tied at three as the Indians headed to the bottom of the ninth.
Joe Gordon singled to left field to start the bottom of the ninth. Keltner sacrificed himself and bunted Gordon to scoring position before Doby headed to the plate. Philadelphia had the chance to go to the bullpen or walk Doby to set up a double play chance, but Athletics manager Connie Mack declined both.
The result was a two-run, walkoff home run by Doby into the right field seats. His 13th home run of the season sent the crowd into a frenzy and kept the pressure on the teams in front of the Tribe.
Scheib (13-8) suffered a complete game loss, pitching eight and one-third innings, allowing all five runs on eight hits and a walk. Christopher (3-2) earned the win in an inning and a third of relief work behind Lemon.
In addition to the game-winning home run, Doby had a pair of hits and runs batted in in the game. Hegan and Gordon each had a pair of knocks to go with Doby’s pair and the Tribe’s eight hits for the game.
Cleveland waits for the scoreboard to update in center field and will take the field soon for the second game of today’s doubleheader. Steve Gromek (8-3, 2.97) will take the mound for the Tribe, looking for the twin bill sweep this afternoon. Dick Fowler (15-6, 3.84) will battle Cleveland for the Mackmen.