Kuhel Makes First Return to Cleveland as Washington Skipper

May 25, 1948

Tonight, the Indians have a small presentation and reception planned for Washington Senators manager Joe Kuhel before the game. The Tribe will recognize the Cleveland native as the first person to become a manager in the big leagues from the area.

Kuhel, who is now a resident of Kansas City, was born and raised in the St. Clair-East 42nd Slovenian district. In 1924, Kuhel played two month on the Cleveland sandlots with the Cleveland Chiropractic College team. After two months, the team disbanded and Kuhel launched a professional career at 18 years old. He signed with Flint in the Michigan-Ontario League.

In 1930, he finally found his way to the big leagues with the Nats. He hit .286 in 17 games during his rookie season, but did enough to make the team the following season and launch a 17-year career. Kuhel played with the Senators and Chicago White Sox. He was a career .277 hitter in 2,104 games, but was let go by the White Sox early last season. Kuhel accepted a position managing in the Class C Cotton States League. When President Clark Griffith decided to reassign Ossie Bluege to the Senators’ farm club director, he decided to give Kuhel the unprecedented jump to the big league job.

Kuhel is a magician who does card tricks and is a member of the Society of Amateur Magicians. He’ll need to do better than pulling a rabbit out of a hat in order to get the Senators to the top half of the American League. The Nats are 12-17 after losing 5-2 to the Detroit Tigers on Monday. Washington is 7.5 games behind the Tribe in the standings and tied with the struggling Boston Red Sox for sixth place.

At 8:25 p.m., a spokesman for the Northeastern Ohio Old-Time Baseball Players Association will present him with an engraved wrist watch at home plate. After the presentation, Bob Lemon (4-2, 2.78) will take the mound and try to make Kuhel’s Cleveland return a disappointing one. He’ll be opposed by Washington’s Mickey Haefner (1-4, 3.89).

Wednesday, Cleveland will send left-hander Gene Bearden (3-0, 0.68) to the hill for his fourth victory of the season. The southpaw knuckleballer will look to continue his surprising rookie season. The Nats will send right-hander Sid Hudson (1-3, 5.23) to the hill.

The Tribe has a scheduled off day on Thursday before arriving in Chicago for four games in three days this weekend.

Photo: Boston Public Library (Kuhel pictured with Red Sox Moe Berg)

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