Today in Tribe History: August 6, 1937

There was a fair bit of controversy on this date in 1937, as the Cleveland Indians would protest a 7-6 loss to the New York Yankees as the home town club rallied for two runs in the bottom of the tenth to earn a win aided by some confusion among the umpires calling the game.

The Indians had a 5-2 lead heading into the ninth, but Bob Feller was not able to wrap up the victory as the Yankees scored three times (an RBI-triple by Red Rolfe and a two-out, two-run home run on a 3-2 pitch to Lou Gehrig) off of the young right-hander to send the game to extra innings. Cleveland took the lead back two batters into the tenth as Hal Trosky homered off of new pitcher Johnny Murphy to give the Indians a 6-5 lead.

Feller started his tenth frame, but after giving up a leadoff single to Myril Hoag, he was hooked by manager Steve O’Neill and replaced by Joe Heving on the mound. He allowed a single to pinch-hitter Jack Saltzgaver after two failed bunt attempts and Frankie Crosetti moved both runners up by succeeding where Saltzgaver could not. Rolfe struck out for the second out, but not without its own controversy as home plate umpire Charlie Johnston ruled Heving’s 2-2 pitch a strike, first indicating he did not hold up on a check swing and then later stating that the ball was foul tipped (Indians catcher Frankie Pytlak dropped the ball regardless and tagged Rolfe, which would have turned the tipped third strike into a foul). The Yankees pushed the issue, insisting that Johnston appeal. He did, with third base umpire George Moriarity saying that he did not see it and with Brick Owens stating that Pytlak caught the tipped ball, ending the debate but infuriating the home team and its fans.

In stepped the dangerous Joe DiMaggio to the plate, with the Yankees down to their final out but with the tying and winning runs in scoring position. The count worked full before he scorched a screamer towards Tribe third baseman Odell “Sammy” Hale, who was hugging the line and lunged for the ball. It deflected off of his glove and towards the stands down the third base line. Left fielder Moose Solters did not pursue the deflected ball, reacting to the call of the home plate umpire Johnston that the ball was foul. The pair of Yankees on base, believing the ball to be fair and off of Hale’s glove, continued towards the plate with both touching home safely. The Yankees argued Johnston’s foul call with umpire Moriarty, who agreed with them, and Johnston reversed his call, giving New York two runs and a last at bat victory.

As would be expected, the Indians protested the contest, bringing the matter to American League President William Harridge. He would uphold the protest, notifying the team on August 30 that the game was to be ruled a no-decision and ordered it to be replayed. In his statement, he agreed with the opinion of manager O’Neill that, due to the foul call by the home plate umpire, the Indians were not provided an opportunity on defense to field DiMaggio’s deflected smash.

The game was also notable because the Indians’ outfield trio failed to record a single putout in ten and two-thirds innings of opportunities. Feller retired 12 of the 29 outs on the day via strikeout, but he was charged with six runs on nine hits in nine-plus innings with ten walks on the day.

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