Lemon Defeats Nerves and Nature Before Tigers

April 24, 1948

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. When you are both, you’re pretty tough to beat.

That was the case for Bob Lemon yesterday when he and the Indians defeated the Detroit Tigers 8-2 at Briggs Stadium. For Lemon, it was the first of what he hopes will be many wins this season. Lemon has been asserted the Tribe’s second starter behind Bob Feller. However, Lemon almost was unable to pitch Friday.

While Lemon was throwing Thursday morning at Cleveland Stadium, a nerve twitched in his arm, paralyzing it for a moment. Trainer Lefty Weisman rubbed down Lemon’s arm and it felt fine again.

“But I worried about it all night long,” Lemon said. “I would wake up in the middle of the night and pretend I was throwing just to see if it felt all right. Thank goodness, it did.”

Once Lemon was healthy to pitch, Mother Nature did her best to ruin his day.

It rained all Friday morning in Detroit, seriously threatening the postponement of the game. Had the game been washed out, Lemon’s start would have been skipped, with Feller slated to pitch today’s game. Lemon paced nervously around the team’s hotel all morning while the rain fell. Once the sky cleared though, he was calm and ready to pitch.

“The first game is always the tough one,” Lemon said. “Once I get that first game over, I’ll feel a lot better.”

Lemon felt pretty well once the game started, tossing nine strong innings and allowing only six hits.

While Lemon tamed the Tigers, Feller rested for his second start of the season. He’ll start this afternoon despite having a bruised finger that he suffered in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s opener. Feller was hit on the finger while attempting to bunt.

After icing, Feller was able to throw the final two innings on Tuesday before having X-rays. The finger was not broken, and Feller was able to throw batting practice on Thursday before the team left for Detroit, though he lacked accuracy. After Friday’s game, Feller said he felt he would be able to pitch today.

“I guess I’ll be able to pitch all right,” Feller said. “I probably won’t know where I’m going to throw the ball. The finger is still kind of numb.”

Feller threw a two-hit shutout against the St. Louis Browns on Tuesday to open the season. He only defeated the Tigers, a much stronger team than St. Louis, once out of four tries in 1947.

But if Feller can pitch as well as Lemon did with a minor pain, the Indians have a solid chance to find themselves still undefeated at day’s end.

Photo: Ootpdevelopments.com

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