Veeck Comes to Defense of Indians Fans

July 3, 1948

After fighting in the War, Bill Veeck is trying to make peace.

One day after an anonymous Indians player declared that the team would rather play on the road than at home in front of fans that boo and ridicule their every move, the Indians president defended the one million fans who already have passed through the turnstiles this season.

The unnamed Indians player said the fan base has become progressively negative and critical of the team over the last two years. The player went so far as to say that Tribe fans are some of the most critical fans in baseball, even worse than in Philadelphia or Boston.

Veeck acknowledges some negativity and booing at the stadium, but feels the boos come from a small minority and that most patrons have been supportive of the team.

“Far from being the worst fans in the world, they’re the best, in my opinion,” Veeck said. “The overwhelming majority have been loyal and fair. As for the few who seem to find pleasure in booing, they have paid their way into the ball park and it’s their privilege.”

Cleveland fans have set several major league attendance records this season, including the most to ever see a professional game on June 20. The dispute between the players and fans began with the startling splits between home and road play. Cleveland is 24-8 on the road, but just 16-16 at home. After their last home stand that had the Tribe go just 6-9, a player sounded off.

Veeck doesn’t see the crowds as the reason the Indians have struggled to play well at home. Instead, he thinks the fans have inspired the team.

“The presence of 70,000 spectators at the stadium is enough in itself to inspire the ball players to give it everything they’ve got,” Veeck said. “I’ll admit we haven’t looked too good at home, but you can’t tell me a few boo birds in the audience accounts for the lack of base hits that has caused us to lose so many home games.”

Veeck does acknowledge and understand the team’s frustration, however. The team is mired in the middle of a pennant race for the first time in eight years and Bob Lemon tossed a no-hitter on Wednesday in Detroit – on the road. The pressure of the season and Lemon’s dominance may have led to the team’s frustrations boiling over after the series in Detroit.

“But I can’t blame the players greatly for their squawk the other day. It was made under the emotional stress created by Bob Lemon’s no-hit game. They were all a little delirious after that. Ask them now and I’ll bet they’d all rather play in Cleveland than anywhere else.”

The Indians are scheduled to play in St. Louis this afternoon and two on Sunday before traveling back to Cleveland for a holiday doubleheader on July 5 with the Detroit Tigers. It will open a seven-day, eight-game homestand to complete the first half of the season.


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