Oct-11-1948: Veeck’s Indians Win World Series over Boston Braves
In 1948, the Cleveland Indians won their first pennant in 28 years in only its third season under owner Bill Veeck. A Bill Veeck led investment group, that included local hero Bob Hope, bought the Cleveland Indians in 1946. Veeck made a number of significant changes – he moved the Indians to massive Cleveland Municipal Stadium, signed the first African-American player in the American Leagues (Larry Doby) and signed 42-year old Stachel Paige making him the oldest rookie in baseball history and its first black pitcher.
The Indians led the league in batting average, home runs and ERA, led by:
- Lou Boudreau (SS) its player-manager who was the league MVP batting .355 with 18 home runs and 106 RBIs;
- Bob Lemon (P) (20-14 / 2.82 ERA) who was the league’s pitcher of the year;
- Bob Feller (P) (19-15 / 3.56 ERA) who led the league in strike outs;
- Gene Beardon (P) (20-7 / 2.43 ERA) who led the league in ERA;
Paige, who only joined the Tribe in July, went 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA and matched strike out king Feller with an average of 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
The team finished the season tied with the Boston Red Sox, forcing a one-game playoff (a first for the American League). The Indians won 8-3, with Boudreau hitting two home-runs.
In the World Series, the Indians jumped to a 3-1 lead over the Boston Braves having held them to only 3 runs in the first four games. A record crowd of 86,288 fans at Municipal Stadium came hoping to see the clinching game, but the Tribe let a 5-4 lead slip away and lost 11-4. The next night in Boston, the Braves again rallied from a 4-1 deficit but fell short as the Indians once again won a decisive game in Boston 4-3.
The next year Veeck was forced to sell the Indians to fund his divorce settlement.
The Indians have not won a World Series since . . . but they have come close several times.
New York Giants 4, Cleveland Indians 0
Despite setting a league record with 111 wins, the Cleveland Indians were swept by the Willie Mays-led New York Giants. Mays made his iconic over the shoulder catch in Game 1 thwarting a late Indians rally. Cleveland’s heart break over losing was tempered when the hometown Browns won the NFL title later that year.
Atlanta Braves 4, Cleveland Indian 2
Atlanta avenged the Boston Braves 1938 loss with a 4-2 series win over the Indians. It was a remarkably close series, with 5 of the 6 games decided by one run.
Florida Marlins 4, Cleveland Indians 3
The Indians came within one out of winning the World Series in Game 7, before Miami’s Craig Counsel hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track that enabled the tying run to score. Miami ultimately won the series on a bases-loaded since in the 11th.
Boston Red Sox 4, Cleveland Indians 3
Fifty-nine years later, the Indians and the Red Sox were again in Fenway Park for one game to determine who won the pennant. This time it was Game 7 of the ALCS, which the Red Sox won 11-2.