August 12, 1948
The Indians not only battled the St. Louis Browns in the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader, they battled history as well. The Tribe came up one run and one hit short of tying history, but manhandled the Browns by an amazing score of 26-3.
The Tribe came up one run short of tying their own American League record of 27 set in 1923 against Boston. That same season, Babe Ruth and his World Champion New York Yankees set the AL mark for hits in a game with 30. The Major League record for both runs and hits belong to National League teams, as the St. Louis Cardinals scored 28 times against Philadelphia in 1929 and the New York Giants rapped 31 hits in 1901.
The beneficiary of the offensive barrage was rookie left-hander Gene Bearden (11-3, 2.56) who has seemingly come out of nowhere to become arguably the Indians’ best pitcher. The benefactor came in the form of five St. Louis pitchers, all of whom gave up runs.
The first Brown to surrender to the Tribe’s mighty bats was starter Fred Sanford (8-14, 4.54), who allowed five runs before being pulled with two outs in the first inning. Sanford allowed five hits in seven batters, including doubles from Hal Peck and Ken Keltner. Sanford was relieved by Frank Biscan, who did not retire a batter.
Biscan intentionally walked Jim Hegan and then gave up a three-run home run to Bearden. A single by Dale Mitchell followed and another double by Peck ran him from the game. Al Widmar allowed an RBI single to Lou Boudreau and by the time the Browns took their first swings, the Indians had a commanding 9-0 lead.
The Indians added four more runs in the top of the third inning, highlighted by an RBI triple from Eddie Robinson. They scored twice more in the fourth, when Mitchell had the big blow with an RBI double.
After Bearden allowed a single run in the fourth, the Tribe stormed back with another four-spot in the top of the fifth. Larry Doby stole the show that inning, as well as home plate, as the Indians poured it on with a 19-1 lead.
The barrage continued in the sixth as Doby blasted a two-run homer and Hegan added a solo shot to move the lead to 22-1. Walks, wild pitches and three more singles plated three more Cleveland tallies in the seventh, as the Tribe continued to roll.
With a 25-1 lead and nearly all regulars removed from the game, Wally Judnich capped off the Indians’ offensive onslaught with a home run to lead off the eighth. With the ballgame unquestionably firmly in hand, Boudreau pulled the ball from Bearden’s hand and gave it to struggling ace Bob Feller for the last two innings.
Proving that not all news is sunshine and rainbows, Feller continued his season long struggles, allowing a two-run single to Indian-killer Dick Kokos before retiring a batter in the ninth inning. Feller eventually worked out of the self-inflicted jam (and obviously did not give up the lead), but the superstar’s struggles continue to baffle Cleveland fans and the Indians organization as well.
The Indians salvaged a split with the lowly Browns, but did so in amazing fashion. They will try to keep the momentum going on Friday as they start a series at Comiskey Park in Chicago against the worst team in baseball – the Chicago White Sox. The Indians will send their newest pitcher, Satchel Paige (3-1, 2.15), to the mound to oppose former Yankee and Athletic Randy Gumpert (1-1, 4.02).
The White Sox are expecting one of their biggest crowds of the season to come and see Paige pitch, as Old Satchelfoot is a former member of the Chicago American Giants of the Negro National League.
Photo: The Sporting News Archives