June 4, 1948
It took 15 innings to declare the Cleveland Indians the victor at Griffith Stadium against the Washington Senators in a game that started on Friday night and ended in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Three hours and 46 minutes after the game began, the Indians and Nats walked off of the field with a series split. The game was highlighted by an impressive display of durability by starting pitcher Bob Feller of the Indians and Mickey Haefner of the Nats.
Fans in attendance were treated to 23 half-innings of scoreless ball from the night’s starting duo.
Feller looked like a pitcher revived from his past, pitching eleven innings while allowing four hits and six walks. No Nats runner reached third base with Feller on the mound. Haefner went toe to toe with the Indians veteran, giving the Senators 12 scoreless frames while giving up five hits and five walks. He too kept runners out of scoring position, allowing just three Indians to reach second base. Both pitchers struck out five.
Replacing Feller, Bob Muncrief (2-1) was aided by a pair of double play balls. He gave the Indians four scoreless, hitless innings. He walked five and struck out a pair.
The Senators’ relief corps held their own until the top of the 15th, when the Indians finally broke through.
Washington pitcher Tom Ferrick had been the better of the two relievers, walking just one in his first two innings of work after coming in for the 13th inning. But he suddenly became wild in his third inning of work, walking Muncrief and Eddie Robinson to start the inning. Hal Peck, pinch hitting for Bob Kennedy, bunted back to Ferrick, who went to third to cut down the lead runner Muncrief. With one out and runners still on first and second, Dale Mitchell delivered the first run of the marathon with a single through short. Robinson scored from second and Peck replaced him.
Nats skipper Joe Kuhel went to the mound and brought in reliever Dick Welteroth. He immediately relinquished a single to Indians manager Lou Boudreau. The knock to center scored Peck and advanced Mitchell to second.
With a 2-0 lead, Mitchell was caught trying to steal third. Boudreau, though, scored on a 400-foot triple by Joe Gordon to straight away center field that followed, and Gordon scored the fourth run of the inning on a single by Ken Keltner. Another triple, this one off of the bat of Wally Judnich, cleared Keltner and gave Cleveland a decisive 5-0 lead.
Muncrief, with plenty of room to maneuver, made quick work of the Nats in the bottom of the inning, retiring all three batters in order to earn the win.
Senators third baseman Eddie Joost was hitless in seven plate appearances in the game, dropping his season batting average eleven points, from .241 entering the day to .230 at the end of the night.
The two teams combined to use 31 players (16 by Cleveland, 15 by Washington) over the course of the night.
After being limited to five hits in the first 14 innings, the Indians had five more in the 15th. The Senators mustered just four total hits on the night.
Feller was booed by the Washington crowd midway through the bottom half of the ninth inning after a sudden flare of wildness. Feller walked a pair of Senators batters consecutively and called time out. After asking home plate umpire Jim Boyer for permission to change his soaking wet undershirt, Boyer agreed to allow the Cleveland ace to enter the dugout for a clothing change.
Five minutes or so later, Feller re-emerged from the dugout and threw warm-up pitches to catcher Jim Hegan, much to the chagrin of Kuhel. After being told to stop throwing to Hegan, Feller turned and threw to shortstop Boudreau, again firing up again the Senators manager.
With the win, the Indians (24-12) remain in first place in the American League by percentage points over the Philadelphia Athletics. The team will hop a train and head to Philadelphia for an afternoon matchup Saturday in the first of four key games against those same rival Athletics.
Gene Bearden is scheduled to pitch for Cleveland in the series opener.