October 10, 1948
This afternoon, Indians fans proved that they are some of the most passionate and patient fans.
While the two may not go together, the record-setting crowd of 86,288 packed Cleveland Stadium for the Tribe’s first World Series crown in 28 years, but instead will have to wait at least another day. The fans’ patience was tested again today just as they were a week ago when Cleveland had chances to clinch the pennant but could not.
Instead, the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game saw its best pitcher of this generation get tagged for seven runs from the Boston Braves in six and one-third innings. Bob Feller fell behind early and could not hold the lead when Cleveland battled back, eventually falling in a rout in Game Five, 11-5.
The Indians and Braves will board trains at 5:30 this afternoon from Union Terminal and return to Boston for tomorrow’s Game Six. The Indians still lead the series, three games to two.
The record-setting crowd broke yesterday’s record for largest crowd to see a World Series game. Today, Clevelanders broke the former all-time attendance mark for a game of 82,871, set by the club on June 20 against the Philadelphia Athletics.
“They just outslugged us,” Indians manager Lou Boudreau said as he hurried to make the train back to Boston. “They got the relief hurling and we didn’t.”
With the Stadium full to the brim and anticipating the Tribe’s fourth series win in a row, they were let down quickly in the first inning. Tommy Holmes singled to right field and Alvin Dark singled on the infield to put two on with no one out in the top of the first inning. After Earl Torgeson flew out to right field, Bob Elliott hit a three-run homer to deep right field, giving the Braves a 3-0 lead.
It was Elliott’s first home run of the series, but the Braves’ cleanup hitter had 23 during the regular season. For Feller, it was the first home run he had given up since August 10 against Detroit, before his fall resurgence.
Cleveland tried to chip away at the lead in the bottom half f the inning when Dale Mitchell jerked a leadoff solo home run into the seats in right field. Mitchell’s homer was his first of the series after just four all season. Braves starter Nels Potter gave the Indians a chance to earn more when Boudreau singled and Joe Gordon walked with one out. However, Ken Keltner popped out to the catcher and Wally Judnich grounded to first base to end the inning and leave the score 3-1 in favor of Boston.
The Braves took their run back in the top of the third inning when Elliott homered again, this time with no one on and two out. The solo shot extended Boston’s lead to 4-1. After fielding errors earlier in the series made him a possible goat, Elliot becomes the first National League player to hit two home runs in a World Series game.
“You should have told me that sooner,” Elliott said after the game. “I’d have gone after another.”
The Indians came all the way back in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead. Gordon singled to left field to start the inning and Keltner followed with a walk. Judnich started the scoring when he singled off Potter to center field to cut the Tribe deficit to 4-2.
With Judnich and Gordon still on base, Eddie Robinson popped out to shortstop before Jim Hegan hit a three-run homer to deep left field, giving the Tribe a 5-4 lead. The raucous crowd could feel the championship champagne bubbles in the air. Braves manager Billy Southworth went to the bullpen for left-hander Warren Spahn.
Potter, the American League castoff, lasted just three and one-third innings, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks. The two homers were his downfall on the afternoon. Potter was released by the Philadelphia Athletics in June and signed as a free agent in Boston. Spahn came on and gave the Indians nothing further in the fourth.
Feller worked a scoreless fifth inning, but the wheels started to fall off in the sixth inning. Rapid Robert did not appear to have the quality control and sharp curve he has had for most of September and Boston took full advantage. With one out, Bill Salkeld hit a solo home run to right field to tie the game at five apiece.
In the seventh, the rout began. Holmes singled to start the inning and advanced to scoring position when Dark bunted him over. He quickly came hustling home when Torgeson singled to center field to score him and give the Braves a 6-5 lead. Boudreau went to the bullpen for the first time in the series, calling upon Ed Klieman to minimize the damage.
Klieman, however, walked Elliott and then gave up a single to Marv Rickert that scored Torgeson and Elliott. Larry Doby was charged with an error when his throw to third hit the sliding Elliott and caromed into the Braves’ dugout. Elliot was granted home plate and Boston led 8-5. Klieman walked Salkeld before heading to the showers without recording an out.
Russ Christopher took over for Klieman and fared no better. Singles by Mike McCormick and Eddie Stanky each singled home a run to extend the lead to 10-5. The Cleveland faithful looking for a celebration were silent as Christopher was excused for Satchel Paige.
Paige became the first African-American to pitch in a World Series game when he toed the rubber. Spahn flew out to center field, scoring McCormick and ending the scoring at 11-5. Paige ended the disastrous inning with a ground out to shortstop.
“I think that hitting today takes the pressure off us,” Elliot said. “We’re on our way now.”
Spahn (1-1) shut the Indians down in the final three innings to earn the win. He allowed just a double to Boudreau in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Cleveland never threatened. The young portsider rebounded nicely after being knocked out of the box in Game Two.
“They were cutting under the ball so it must have been taking a hop,” explained Spahn.
Bob Muncrief pitched the final two innings for the Indians in relief.
Feller (0-2) absorbs the loss, allowing seven runs on eight hits and two walks. The three home runs ruined his day. Feller looked much more the pitcher of the first four months, instead of the final month. Rapid Robert is charged with both Cleveland defeats in the series so far, but deserves a better fate. Feller suffered a tough 1-0 loss in the first game of the series.
“I haven’t any excuses,” Feller said. “I couldn’t seem to loosen up and I didn’t have any control. All I can say is that I just didn’t have it.”
“Bob’s right,” Hegan said. “When Tommy Holmes opened with that hit I felt it then. He caught it on the handle but still the ball carried right on the line. They don’t do that to Feller when he’s right.”
Boston now takes momentum back to Braves Field for tomorrow afternoon’s Game Six. Having only scored three runs in four games before today, Southworth feels the Braves now have the clout after today’s eleven-run, 12-hit outburst to come back and take the series.
Voiselle pitched three and two-third innings of relief in Game Three on Friday. He allowed just one hit in relief of Vern Bickford. He’ll be opposed by the Indians’ Bob Lemon (1-0) who allowed just one unearned run on eight hits in Game Two on Thursday.
Someone in the Indians clubhouse remarked that Voiselle will pitch tomorrow and Sain on Tuesday, if necessary.
“You can change that to Lemon tomorrow and there won’t be any Tuesday as far as the series is concerned,” the scrappy Tribe skipper retorted.
Photo: Cleveland News staff photo