September 21, 1948
There was a lot of talk about the American League pennant around Briggs Stadium and the Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit.
The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox were the only game on Tuesday’s American League schedule. The Red Sox used a six-run third inning to beat the Tigers, 10-2, this afternoon and put Boston a full game ahead of the Tribe as they prepare for Wednesday night’s showdown at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
Ted Gray was wild for the Tigers, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks in just two innings. Tigers manager Steve O’Neill seemed disappointed in Gray’s effort but also that Detroit did not have a better starting pitcher to offer the pennant race this afternoon.
“I just wish I had one of my good pitchers to throw against these fellas today,” O’Neill said. “I have to use my best against all the contenders, but I just haven’t got one of my best today. Trout’s arm is shot and Newhouser isn’t ready. Gotta use Teddy Gray. The boy’s wild.”
O’Neill, a former Indians catcher and manager, thinks Cleveland is the favorite in the pennant race. He warns, however, every opponent will get Detroit’s best in the last nine games of the season.
“The Indians are in a good spot,” he reiterated. “But I’m still going to have to give ‘em my best pitchers in the six games we’ve got to play with them. Newhouser goes tomorrow against the A’s and that means he’ll probably work Sunday against your fellas. That will make Feller against Newhouser again, won’t it.”
Meanwhile, after Monday’s game in Cleveland, the Philadelphia Athletics traveled to Detroit and were sharing the Book Cadillac Hotel with the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday morning. Several Athletics, who have finished their season series with Cleveland and Boston but have three remaining with New York, think the pennant will fly on the shores of Lake Erie.
“I think,” Philadelphia’s Buddy Rosar whispered, like he didn’t want to offend someone in the hotel, “I think you’re in. You got too many guys like Boudreau and Gordon and Doby. And good pitching – real good. You ought to win now.”
And Al Simmons, who said three weeks ago the Indians would fold “like they always do,” said the pennant would be decided tomorrow evening in Cleveland.
“If the Sox win, they go two games up with only eight to play,” he said. “You can’t hardly expect to catch ‘em. If the Indians win, they’ll have that schedule on their side the rest of the way. That’ll be the big one – that one tomorrow night. A big one for Don Black, too, huh?”
After tomorrow evening’s game with the Red Sox, Cleveland has eight games remaining, all against second division teams. Meanwhile the Yankees and Red Sox have five games against one another in the final eight battles.
Once splitting their four-game series in Detroit, grizzled Red Sox manager Joe McCarthy stood by his prediction in spring training that Boston would win the World Series this season. The veteran manager was clearly relieved to get out of Detroit with a split and improve their western road trip record to 5-4.
“What’s the difference what I think,” McCarthy asked. “When I said what I thought last spring you fellows said I was crazy.”
The Red Sox stop in Cleveland Wednesday night before spending the weekend in New York for three games. Boston has their last five games at home to end the season.
“But I’ll tell you what I think,” he volunteered. “I think the Red Sox are going to win the pennant. I can’t imagine managing a ball club that I didn’t think was going to win.”
“Of course,” he added, “If I was managing Cleveland I’d probably think the Indians were going to win and if I was managing New York I’d think the Yankees were going to win.”
Photo: Courtesy of the Ernie Harwell Sports Collection, Detroit Public Library