Tribe Celebrates In Clubhouse After Clincher

October 4, 1948

When Eddie Robinson caught Ken Keltner’s throw from the grass of the Fenway Park infield the Indians had officially clinched the American League pennant and a summer of tension and pressure finally burst loose.

Indians starter Gene Bearden started to saunter off the mound toward the first base dugout but Keltner and Robinson quickly mobbed him, followed there after by catcher Jim Hegan. Soon the bullpen and the rest of the team spilled on to the field and took part in the celebration as they carried Bearden off the field in front of the 33,957 dejected fans.

Inside the Indians clubhouse the celebration continued in several ways. At this point team personnel, including team president Bill Veeck, joined the team in offering congratulations. Veeck had tears in his eyes when he embraced Indians player-manager Lou Boudreau. The two have not always seen eye to eye in the Indians’ direction, but each has respect for the other’s desire to win.

Meanwhile Joe Gordon – one of the few who has made a World Series appearance – was acting like it was his first time. The Tribe’s second baseman was spraying and pouring beer all over the clubhouse.

“Hey, gang, get a load of the doctor,” Gordon said as he poured beer over Lefty Weisman’s head.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this. I’ve been waiting 27 years,” Weisman said through his lager shower.

Indians third base coach and veteran coach Bill McKechnie tilted back in his locker and just watched the celebration with a smile on his face. The three-time pennant winning manager in the National League may have been one of Veeck’s potential replacements for Boudreau if the season did not go as planned. Instead, McKechnie became Boudreau’s right-hand man and confidant. Despite all his experience, the gray-haired coach understands how special this clincher is for Cleveland.

“It never gets old, son. It never gets old,” McKechnie said.

Veterans like Keltner and Bob Feller quietly sat at their lockers, reminiscing. After a decade each with the Tribe, a day like today has been a long time in the waiting. At times they may have wondered if they would ever see a Fall Classic. Feller had a sense of relief, too, after losing Sunday’s season finale that forced the one-game playoff.

“That Bearden! What a man! He got me off the hook again, didn’t he,” Feller said.

In honorable fashion, several Boston Red Sox came over and congratulated the Indians, including Birdie Tebbetts and Bobby Doerr and manager Joe McCarthy. McCarthy smiled as he took several congratulatory handshakes with Boudreau.

“Congratulations, Lou,” McCarthy said. “You are a fine champion and have a fine ball club. Best of luck in the series.”

While the photos have not all developed from the conclusion of today’s game and the closest pennant race in baseball history, the memories are likely to last in Indians lore for generations.

Photo: Cleveland Memory Project

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