The World Series is Back in Cleveland – Series Tied 1-1

October 8, 1948

Large crowds. Cold, rainy weather. Ticket scalpers making profits. An electric atmosphere.

Welcome back Tribe…this time, it’s for all the marbles.

Today, for the first time since October 12, 1920, the city of Cleveland will host a World Series game. The Tribe will take on the National League’s Boston Braves on baseball’s biggest stage with the series tied at one game apiece.

Many fans are paying top dollar to see their Indians battle the Braves, as scalpers are reportedly taking between $25 and $50 for admission to see baseball’s best teams. Not all fans need to be a Rockefeller, however, because those who camped outside of the box office and braved the cold last night could be rewarded with one of 8,000 bleacher seats for Game Three that will be on sale at 10:00 this morning for $1.

The Cleveland fans have not seen their Indians play a game at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium since Sunday and a lot of questions have been answered since then. On Sunday, Detroit Tigers star Hal Newhouser shut down the Tribe in heartbreaking fashion, forcing the Tribe into a one-game playoff with the hated Boston Red Sox. The Indians went to Fenway Park and rookie southpaw Gene Bearden (20-7, 2.43) stymied the BoSox for the American League pennant and the Tribe then stayed in Beantown for Games One and Two of the Fall Classic against the Braves.

The Indians dropped Game One as Bob Feller (19-15, 3.56) lost to Johnny Sain (24-15, 2.60) on a controversial pickoff play in the eighth inning. Game Two went the Tribe’s way, as Bob Lemon (20-14, 2.82) hurled a complete game in a 4-1 victory, despite another obvious blown call from Umpire Bill Stewart. The teams boarded their train in Boston after the ballgame and should arrive in Cleveland shortly before today’s contest.

Bearden, who was the Indians’ best pitcher down the stretch, will get the ball for the Tribe in Game Three. He will be opposed by another rookie, Vern Bickford (11-5, 3.27), for the Braves. The two starters will be facing different lineups than the Game One and Game Two starters did, as Larry Doby will move up the Tribe lineup from sixth to second and Wally Judnich will replace Allie Clark in the outfield. The Braves have an altogether different lineup, as only their one, two, four and eight hitters remain in the lineup from Games One and Two.

Bickford is a right-handed hurler who was born in Hellier, Kentucky, although he spent most of his childhood in Berwind, West Virginia. He features a good fastball, a nasty changeup and a sidearm slider. A veteran of the United States Army, Bickford fought in the Battle of Leyte under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. Bickford credits his time in the war for his success in baseball, claiming that he picked the brains of several Major Leaguers while overseas.

“If it wasn’t for the war,” Bickford said in a quote in The Sporting News, “I’d still be pitching in Welch, West Virginia.”

Bearden, as Tribe fans know, is a left-handed knuckleball specialist who had a surprising breakout season with the Indians this year. Winning 20 games after only facing four batters the season before is impressive, but it was his victory in the one-game-playoff against the Red Sox and the image of him being carried off of the field in Fenway Park that will be forever remembered in Cleveland.

“I’ll bet I was the most surprised person in the ball park,” Bearden said of his performance in an article from The Plain Dealer. “I didn’t even know what inning it was. I thought it was the eighth inning until the fellows – what a bunch – carried me off the field on their shoulders.”

Bearden allowed only five hits and one earned run over his nine innings of work and that was with just one day of rest between starts. For Game Three, Bearden will get three days of rest and will look to shut down Boston again, only this time it is the Red Sox’s crosstown rivals who are widely considered to be inferior to the Sox.

“I’m not calling anybody anything,” said Bearden. “I will admit I’ll take throwing against the Braves ahead of the Red Sox. But the Braves are a right solid ball club, just the same. You’ve got to beat them. They won’t beat themselves for you.”

Bearden will get another chance to prove himself as a top-tier starter, this time in front of his home fans.

“You’d better wait till (Game Three) to find out about that,” Bearden said with a smile.

Hopefully, the Tribe’s rookie will be all smiles after today’s game as well.

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