June 20, 1948
Pitching in front of a record crowd, Cleveland’s Bob Feller gave his team a chance to win and his offense did just that, giving him four runs of support in the bottom of the seventh as the Indians took game one of the twin bill from the Philadelphia Athletics by a 4-3 final.
Feller (6-7) allowed three runs, including a pair of solo home runs, scattered across three separate innings. He went the distance in the ball game, allowing seven hits in total while walked two and striking out six. He retired at one point ten straight batters and ended his personal five-game losing streak.
“It was just an ordinary game as far as my pitching was concerned,” said Feller. “I had a pretty good curve, and my control got better as the game went on. I didn’t do anything differently than I have been doing and I’ve pitched better games a lot of times that I lost.”
A paid crowd of 82,781 fans, announced by President Bill Veeck as opposed to stadium announcer Jack Cresson, filled the stadium, its ramps, aisles and fenced-in outfield. An additional 653 were in attendance as guests of Veeck. Another 116 fans, who had purchased their tickets but demanded and received their funds back after discovering they were without seats in the fenced-in outfield area, left the yard and were not part of the count.
Athletics shortstop Eddie Joost started the afternoon with a bang, taking a 3-1 Feller offering deep into the upper deck of the left field seats to lead off the game, earning Feller some boos from the sizable crowd. It was the eighth home run of the season for Joost and gave the A’s an early 1-0 lead.
Philadelphia put another run on the scoreboard in the top of the third. Joost and Ray Coleman reached base to start the inning, but Joost was caught trying to steal third. Coleman moved to second on the play. Sam Chapman grounded out to short, moving Coleman to third with two outs. The pressure did not get to Ferris Fain, who dropped a single into center to score Coleman and give the Athletics a 2-0 advantage.
Chapman did the damage for the A’s in the fifth off of Feller. Up with two outs in the inning, the newly bespectacled outfielder drove a solo home run over the fence. His sixth homer of the year, it pushed Philadelphia’s lead to 3-0.
Philly starter Joe Coleman had allowed just a pair of singles and a pair of walks through his first six innings on the afternoon. But in the seventh, Hank Edwards and Joe Gordon both singled to start the frame. A walk by Ken Keltner loaded the bases with nobody out for Eddie Robinson. A pop to short by Robinson was unable to advance the runners, but pinch-hitter Hal Peck, batting for catcher Jim Hegan, singled to left. All three runners would score on the play on an error by the shortstop Joost, who was unable to handle the throw in from right field and Peck would advance to second base.
The bases-clearing knock by Peck allowed Feller to remain in the game, as since he came to the plate with the score tied it was not imperative that Boudreau lift him for a pinch-hitter. Feller flew out to center for the second out, but Dale Mitchell beat out an infield single to second, moving Peck to third and keeping the inning alive. Larry Doby delivered the go-ahead run with an RBI-single to right field, giving the Indians a 4-3 lead.
“That was one of the big hits of my career, because in a sense it meant a victory for Bob (Feller),” Peck said. “It was a fastball that I hit and I think Coleman was trying to waste the pitch. It looked as if he attempted to get it wide of the plate, but it came in close and I decided to take a cut at it.”
“That one was good for my morale,” said Feller. “It isn’t often the boys come back and win one for me that way after I get them three runs behind.”
Coleman (7-4) would exit the game after the Doby single, unable to finish the seventh. He was charged with all four earned runs. He surrendered seven hits and three walks on the afternoon.
Bubba Harris relieved and allowed just one base runner, a walk, amongst the four batters he faced.
Bob Lemon (9-5) will take on Phil Marchildon (5-4) in the second game of the day’s doubleheader. It was previously thought that Marchildon would start the first game and Coleman would start the second.
Photo: ootpdevelopments.com (pictured, Peck)