|World Series (4-2)||Cleveland Indians over||Boston Braves|
A close three-team pennant race developed in the American League over the course of the 1948 season, with the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees all contending for the league title. The defending-champion Yankees were an extremely well-balanced club, placing second in the junior circuit in both runs scored (857) and fewest runs allowed (633). They had a solid starting rotation that included Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds, and Eddie Lopat, each of whom surpassed 16 victories. New York’s starting lineup also featured two of the league’s most productive offensive players. Tommy Henrich batted .308, hit 25 home runs, knocked in 100 runs, collected 42 doubles, and led the league with 138 runs scored and 14 triples. Meanwhile, Joe DiMaggio batted .320, scored 110 runs, and topped the circuit with 39 homers and 155 runs batted in, en route to earning a second-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting.
In the end, though, Boston’s superior hitting and Cleveland’s league-leading pitching staff relegated New York to a close third-place finish. The Red Sox and Indians battled right down to the wire, finishing the regular season with identical records of 96-58. With a one-game playoff between the two teams needed to determine the pennant-winner, a coin flip made the Red Sox the home team for the decisive contest. Almost 30 years to the day before Bucky Dent’s memorable home run over Fenway Park’s Green Monster, Cleveland shortstop Lou Boudreau won the pennant for his team by going four-for-four, with two home runs, during an 8-3 Cleveland victory. The Indians captured their first league championship in 28 years, finishing the campaign with a record of 97-58, just one game ahead of Boston. New York finished third, only 2 ½ games off the pace.
Boudreau’s brilliant performance punctuated his great season. The slick-fielding shortstop earned A.L. MVP honors by hitting 18 home runs, driving in 106 runs, scoring 116 others, and placing second in the league with a .355 batting average and a .453 on-base percentage. Second baseman Joe Gordon, third baseman Ken Keltner, and outfielder Dale Mitchell helped Boudreau make the Indians the third-highest scoring team in the junior circuit. Gordon batted .280 and finished among the league leaders with 32 home runs and 124 runs batted in. Keltner had his finest season, batting .297, hitting 31 homers, and knocking in 119 runs. Mitchell finished near the top of the league rankings with 204 hits and a .336 batting average.
Still, the Indians’ greatest strength lay in their pitching staff, which surrendered only 568 runs to the opposition over the course of the season. Bob Lemon finished 20-14 with a 2.82 ERA, and he led the league with 293 innings pitched, 20 complete games, and 10 shutouts. Rookie left-hander Gene Bearden compiled an outstanding 20-7 record and a league-leading 2.43 ERA, while throwing 229 innings, 15 complete games, and six shutouts. Bob Feller won 19 games, placed among the league leaders with 280 innings pitched and 18 complete games, and led all A.L. hurlers with 164 strikeouts.
It took exceptional pitching for the Indians to barely edge out the Red Sox for the top spot in the American League. Boston had baseball’s most potent offense, scoring a major-league high 907 runs during the season. Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Vern Stephens combined to produce 81 home runs and 375 RBIs in the middle of Boston’s batting order. Williams hit 25 homers, drove in 127 runs, scored 124 others, and led the league with a .369 batting average and a .497 on-base percentage. Doerr batted .285, hit 27 home runs, and knocked in 111 runs. Stephens homered 29 times, drove in 137 runs, and scored 114 others. Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio also made significant contributions to Boston’s powerful offense. Pesky batted .281 and scored 124 runs. DiMaggio batted .285, knocked in 87 runs, and finished second in the league with 127 runs scored. Only a mediocre pitching staff prevented the Red Sox from winning their second pennant in three years.
After dashing the hopes of Red Sox fans, the Indians proceeded to make it a clean sweep of Boston, defeating the Braves in six games in the World Series. Although Bob Feller lost both his starts, Gene Bearden hurled a shutout in Game Three and Bob Lemon posted two victories for the Tribe. The Indians won the Series despite posting a team batting average of just .199.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• June 13 - The New York Yankees retired Babe Ruth’s uniform number 3 during a special pre-game ceremony at Yankee Stadium. The appearance marked Ruth’s last at the Stadium, which celebrated its 25th anniversary. The legendary slugger died of throat cancer two months later, on August 16.
• July 13 – The American League defeated the National League by a score of 5-2 in the All-Star Game.
• July 18 - Chicago White Sox left-fielder Pat Seerey hit four home runs in a game against the Philadelphia Athletics, to become the fifth Major League player to accomplish the feat. The White Sox won, 12-11, in 11 innings.
• October 11 - The Cleveland Indians defeated the Boston Braves, 4–3, in Game Six of the World Series to win their second World Championship title, four games to two. In Game Four, Larry Doby became the first black player to hit a home run in the World Series. The Braves returned to the Fall Classic after a 34 year absence, while the Indians made their first Series appearance in 28 years.
• The Indians became the first team in major league history to draw more than two million fans at home.
• Lou Boudreau tied a loop record by leading American League shortstops in fielding average for the eighth time.
• Eddie Joost of the A's set a new American League record by leading off six games with a home run.
• Hal Newhouser led the American League with 21 wins.
• Lou Boudreau became the first shortstop in American League history to hit over .350 and drive in more than 100 runs in the same season.
• Snuffy Stirnweiss established a new major league record for second basemen by compiling a .993 fielding average.
• Cleveland led the American League with a .282 team batting average, a 3.22 team ERA, and a .982 fielding average.
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- 1948 World Series, Allie Reynolds, American League, Bill Veeck, Bob Dillinger, Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Bobby Doerr, Casey Stengel, Cleveland Indians, Dale Mitchell, Dom DiMaggio, Don Black, Ed Lopat, Eddie Joost, Gene Bearden, Hal Newhouser, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Johnny Pesky, Ken Keltner, Larry Doby, Lou Boudreau, Mike Garcia, Pat Seerey, Satchel Paige, Snuffy Stirnweiss, Ted Williams, Tommy Henrich, Vern Stephens, Vic Raschi