September 26, 1948
Former Cleveland Indians player and manager Steve O’Neill is likely rooting on the inside for the Tribe to win the pennant, but you won’t catch a glimpse of that on the outside or by his actions.
O’Neill, a Cleveland resident, will send left-handed ace Hal Newhouser to the mound this afternoon to try and stifle the Indians and their pennant hopes. The Tigers skipper makes no secret though, the Indians will see him in the final series of the season next weekend at Municipal Stadium.
Newhouser, looking for his 20th win of the season, will start this afternoon and if the Indians knock him out of the box early, he will start again on Friday in Cleveland. If he goes the distance today, O’Neill plans to use him Thursday against the St. Louis Browns and then in the season finale on Sunday on just two days rest.
Cleveland remains in a first place tie with the Boston Red Sox. They’ll try to negate Newhouser with a veteran ace hurler of their own, Bob Feller. Feller is seeking his sixth straight win after a tumultuous summer full of inconsistency and boos from Clevelanders. Briggs Stadium is expected to be sold out this afternoon for the marquee matchup with many Indians fans making the voyage to Detroit.
Feller has not been beaten in over two months and is coming off a three-hitter against the Red Sox last Wednesday evening in Cleveland. The two All-Star pitchers have only matched up once this season with Feller winning the duel. They’ve faced one another seven times in their careers with Feller winning six of them.
Indians manager Lou Boudreau is considering a very tight pitching rotation this week himself. Feller could come back and pitch Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox on two days rest, then the season finale on Sunday against Detroit. If things fall correctly, Newhouser and Feller could match up again on the last day of the season.
O’Neill is not the only team sending their best to the field this week despite being out of contention. Each team feels that if they play anything other than their best in the tightest pennant chase in baseball history, they stand the chance of ridicule from competitors around the league. Few September call-ups or minor leaguers will see action this week as every team but the Browns has games against at least one of the three contenders.
Philadelphia will have their entire pitching staff ready for a three-game series with New York beginning on Tuesday. In a scheduling quirk, the Mackmen are off for four straight days beginning yesterday before welcoming the Yankees to Philadelphia.
Likewise, Washington will send their best against the Boston Red Sox this week despite some family ties being ruffled. Clark Griffith, president of the Nats, is the father-in-law of Boston’s general manager, Joe Cronin. If Washington were to offer anything other than their best against the Red Sox, the cries from Cleveland and New York would be heard around the world.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project (pictured: Griffith, Mack, Veeck)