May 31, 1948
There’s walking a tight rope with no safety net and then there is what Jim Hegan is going to do today.
The quickly injury-riddled Indians find themselves this morning embarking on their second consecutive doubleheader, only this time with just one catcher. Joe Tipton, the Cleveland backup, was injured during the second game in Chicago yesterday. It will leave the Indians with just their All-Star backstop, Hegan, to catch the entire day today at the Stadium against the St. Louis Browns.
Pale Hose reliever Earl Harrist hit Tipton on the left wrist in the eighth inning yesterday in Chicago. Hegan already had been pinch-hit for and was out of the game when Tipton was injured. After the Indians plated nine runs in the inning and took the lead, they had no catcher for the final two innings. Indians manager Lou Boudreau donned the shin guards himself and caught the final two frames of the Indians’ 13-8 win at Comiskey Park.
Tipton was rushed to Mercy Hospital where his wrist was X-rayed and revealed no fracture existed, just a severe bruise and contusions. He is expected to miss several days. The rookie catcher is hitting .421, with one home run and four RBI in limited action.
Hegan, an All-Star last season, will have to catch every inning until Tipton is healthy enough to assist him. He’s hitting .235 with one home run and nine RBI coming into Memorial Day.
The injury bug has bitten the Indians severely over the last week. Ken Keltner was hit on the right forearm diving back into first base last Tuesday and had to miss two games. Joe Gordon has been out since Tuesday as well with a sore back. He was forced to play the final two innings when the Tribe bench was empty, but he may need another day or two of rest for the muscular soreness he’s experiencing.
Johnny Berardino has filled in for Gordon at second base this week and done a splendid job, both defensively and offensively. Berardino had five hits in seven at bats yesterday, including his first home run of the year, a triple, a double and two singles.
Tipton’s hit-by-pitch was the second of its kind to sideline an Indian in two days. Saturday, Thurman Tucker was hit on the left index finger while trying to bunt. The tip of the finger was broken in three places and placed in a splint. He will not have full use of the finger for about two weeks, but he is available to pinch run like he did yesterday.
Today the Indians will try to keep pace with the Philadelphia Athletics in the standings, in addition to staying healthy. Gene Bearden (3-1, 0.78) will take the mound for the Tribe in the first game against the Browns’ Ray Shore (0-0, 2.45). Bob Muncrief (1-0, 3.75) will make a spot start for the Indians in the second game against Cliff Fannin (1-4, 6.49).
After the doubleheader the Tribe will travel to Washington to begin an east coast road trip.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project