The following is the second part of a 10-part series chronicling the Cleveland Indians’ championship history.
After finishing second in the American League in 1921, the Cleveland Indians only reached second place two more times until the 1948 season, spending nearly three decades in the middle to bottom of the league standings.
From the beginning of the 1948 season, the Tribe was consistently one of the top three teams in the American League, leading to a tie in the standings at the end of the season with the Boston Red Sox. This tie forced a one-game playoff in order to determine the American League Champion. The Indians were at a disadvantage, having to travel to Boston one day after losing 7-1 to the Detroit Tigers in Cleveland.
The Indians turned to their leader, player-manager Lou Boudreau, and Boudreau did not disappoint. Cleveland’s shortstop went 4-for-4 with two home runs, a walk, and scored three runs. Third baseman Ken Keltner contributed a home run of his own as part of a three-hit day. Tribe starter Gene Bearden pitched a complete game, allowing only one earned run as he won his twentieth game of the season, defeating the Red Sox 8-3.
The Indians claimed their second American League pennant in franchise history, but the Tribe did not stop there.
1948 World Series
Two days after defeating Boston’s American League franchise, Cleveland was forced to remain in Boston to play the National League Champions, the Boston Braves.
Games One and Two
In Game One, Hall of Famer Bob Feller took the mound, allowing only one earned run in eight innings. Unfortunately, the Tribe was unable to muster any offense, managing to hit only four singles in a 1-0 loss.
Game Two was also in Boston, but this time the Tribe’s offense showed up, scoring four runs thanks to two-hit days by Lou Boudreau and rookie Larry Doby. Starter Bob Lemon threw a complete game, surrendering only one unearned run in the first inning.
Games Three and Four
With the 1948 World Series tied at one game apiece, it was Cleveland’s turn for home field advantage. Gene Bearden continued his outstanding season by pitching a complete game shutout in Game Three. Bearden also contributed two hits of his own on offense. The pitchers duel continued in Game Four, with Cleveland narrowly escaping with a 2-1 victory. The Indians needed only one more win to claim their second World Championship.
Not only could the Indians win the World Series with a Game Five victory, they could do it in front of their fans at Cleveland Stadium. Starter Bob Feller took the mound, looking to avenge his Game One loss, but it was not to be. Feller surrendered seven earned runs in six and one-third innings, including three home runs. The Indians were forced to return to Boston.
The change of scenery did the Tribe some good, as they held a 4-1 lead entering the bottom of the eighth inning. Starter Bob Lemon entered the eighth inning having allowed six hits, but thanks to double play balls, only one run had scored. His luck did not continue, however, as Lemon gave up a single, a double, and a walk to load the bases.
Lemon was replaced by Game Three winner Gene Bearden who gave up a sacrifice fly and a double, yet was able to escape the inning with a 4-3 Indians lead. After walking the first Boston batter in the bottom of the ninth, Bearden forced a double play then retired the final batter to earn the save and secure Cleveland’s second World Championship.
The Tribe would remain one of the best teams in the American League into the 1950s, when they would earn their third World Series berth.
For more of the 10-part series chronicling the Cleveland Indians’ championship history and other work from this author click here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_indians#1947.E2.80.931959 “Cleveland Indians: 1974-1959” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS194810040.shtml “October 4, 1948 Cleveland Indians at Boston Red Sox Play by Play and Box Score” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BSN/BSN194810060.shtml “October 6, 1948 World Series Game 1, Indians at Braves” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BSN/BSN194810070.shtml “October 7, 1948 World Series Game 2, Indians at Braves” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE194810080.shtml “October 8, 1948 World Series Game 3, Braves at Indians” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE194810090.shtml “October 9, 1948 World Series Game 4, Braves at Indians” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE194810100.shtml “October 10, 1948 World Series Game 5, Braves at Indians” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BSN/BSN194810110.shtml “October 11, 1948 World Series Game 6, Indians at Braves” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.