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Cleveland Indians

Cleveland Indians

Cleveland Indians Logo

Ballpark:
Established:
1901
Affiliations:
Retired Numbers:
3, 5, 14, 18, 19, 21, 42, 455
Owners:
Larry Dolan
Manager:
General Manager:
Played As:
CLE

The 1948 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team won the second World Series in franchise history, and its first championship in 28 years.

1948 Cleveland Indians
American League Champions
World Series Champions

97-58, Finished 1st in American League

Major league affiliations
  • American League (Since 1901)
Location
  • Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio 
Attendance: 2,620,627 (1st of 8)
1948 Information
Owner(s) Bill Veeck
General manager(s) Bill Veeck
Manager(s) Lou Boudreau
Local television WEWS-TV
(Van Patrick)
Local radio WJW
(Jack Graney, Jimmy Dudley)

Off-season

In the 1947-48 off-season, owner Bill Veeck signed recent St. Louis Browns manager Muddy Ruel as a coach to join manager/shortstop Lou Boudreau and coach Bill McKechnie who was also a long-time manager.  

Player transactions:

  • November 17, 1947: Pete Milne was drafted from the Indians by the New York Giants in the 1947 minor league draft.  
  • December 9, 1947: Catfish Metkovich and $50,000 were traded by the Indians to the St. Louis Browns for Johnny Berardino. 
  • January 27, 1948: Ralph Weigel was traded by the Indians to the Chicago White Sox for Thurman Tucker.
  • Prior to 1948 season (exact date unknown)
    • Lee Wheat was signed as an amateur free agent by the Indians.
    • Bill Upton was signed as an amateur free agent by the Indians.

Regular season

Lou Boudreau became the first shortstop in the history of the American League to win the MVP Award.

Notable transactions

  • April 20, 1948: Catfish Metkovich was returned to the Indians by the St. Louis Browns. The Indians sent $15,000 to the St. Louis Browns as compensation.(Date given is approximate. Exact date is uncertain.)
  • May 6, 1948: Catfish Metkovich, Les Webber and cash were traded by the Indians to the Oakland Oaks for Will Hafey (minors).
  • June 15, 1948: Bill Kennedy and $100,000 were traded by the Indians to the St. Louis Browns for Sam Zoldak.
  • July 7, 1948: Satchel Paige was signed as a free agent by the Indians.

Satchel Paige

The Indians made baseball history on July 9. In a game against the St. Louis Browns, with the Browns beating the Indians 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, manager Lou Boudreau pulled his starting pitcher, Bob Lemon and brought Negro leagues legend Satchel Paige into the game.

The first batter Paige faced was Browns first baseman Chuck Stevens. Paige did yet not know the signs, and Stevens lined a single into left field. Jerry Priddy bunted Stevens over to second. Next was Whitey Platt, and Paige threw an overhand server for a strike and one sidearm for another strike. Paige then threw his "Hesitation Pitch", which puzzled Platt and led him to throw his bat forty feet up the third base line. Browns manager Zack Taylor bolted from the dugout to talk to umpire Bill McGowan about the pitch. Taylor argued that it was a balk, but McGowan let it stand as a strike. Paige got Al Zarilla to fly out and the inning was over. In the next inning, Paige gave up a leadoff single to Dick Kokos. His catcher simplified his signals, and Paige got Roy Partee to hit into a double play. Larry Doby, the player who broke the American League’s color barrier, pinch hit for Paige the following inning.

Paige got his first big league victory on July 15. This was accomplished the night after he pitched in an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in front of 65,000 people in Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. The victory came against the Philadelphia Athletics at Shibe Park. The Indians were up 5-3 with the bases loaded in the sixth inning of the second game of a double header. Paige got Eddie Joost to fly out to end the inning. Unfortunately, he gave up two runs the next inning when Ferris Fain doubled and Hank Majeski hit a home run. Paige buckled down and gave up only one more hit the rest of the game, getting five of the next six outs on fly balls. Doby and Ken Keltner would hit home runs in the ninth to give the Indians an 8-5 victory.

On August 3, the Indians were one game behind the Athletics. Boudreau started Paige against the Washington Senators in Cleveland. The 72,562 people that saw the game set a new attendance record for a major league night game. Paige showed his nervousness as he walked two of the first three batters and then gave up a triple to Bud Stewart to fall behind 2-0. By the seventh, the Indians were up 4-2 and held on to give Paige his second victory.

Paige’s next start was against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park. 51,013 people paid to see the game, but many thousands more stormed the turnstiles and crashed into the park, overwhelming the few dozen ticket-takers. Paige pitched a complete game shutout, beating the White Sox 5-0.

By August 20, the Indians were in a heated pennant race. Coming into the game against the White Sox, Bob Lemon, Gene Bearden and Sam Zoldak had thrown consecutive shutouts to run up a thirty-inning scoreless streak, eleven shy of the big league record. For this game, played in Cleveland, 78,382 people came to see Paige. This was a full 6,000 more people than the last time that the night attendance record was set. Paige went the distance again, giving up two singles and one double for his second consecutive three-hit shutout. Paige now had a 5-1 record and a low 1.33 ERA.

American League Playoff

At the end of the season, Cleveland and the Boston Red Sox were tied for first place. This led to the first-ever one-game playoff in the American League. The Indians defeated the Red Sox 8-3 in the 1948 playoff game. Knuckleballer Gene Bearden was given the start for the Indians. Red Sox manager Joe McCarthy picked pitcher Denny Galehouse, who had an 8-7 pitching record.

Ken Keltner contributed to the victory with his single, double, and 3-run homer over the Green Monster in Fenway Park in the 4th inning. The Indians moved on to the 1948 World Series against the Boston Braves. Later, McCarthy said he had no rested arms and that there was no else who could pitch. Mel Parnell and Ellis Kinder claimed that they were both ready to pitch.

By The Baseball Page