AP Was There: Indians win the 1948 World Series

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The Cleveland Indians had won their only World Series appearance in 1920 when they returned in 1948.

The Indians made it 2 for 2 when the defeated the Boston Braves to win the 1948 championship in six games. The Indians defeated the Braves 4-3 in Game 6 on Oct. 11, 1948. The Indians would go on to win three more American League pennants but not another World Series championship.

Here's the report from The Associated Press on the day the Indians won their last title.



(Associated Press Sports Writer)

BOSTON, Oct. 11 - (AP) - Thanks to stout-hearted relief pitching by Gene Bearden in the tense closing minutes of play, the Cleveland Indians staggered through to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Braves in the sixth and deciding game of the world series today.

In winning its first championship in 28 years, the Tribe also was the beneficiary of a lucky double play in the ninth inning which probably saved Bearden from serious trouble.

One moment the crowd of 40,103 was sitting on the edge of the seats, expectant of a rally that would square the series at three games apiece, and carry the playoff right down to a seventh contest tomorrow.

The next moment it was all over for the Boston fans but for the sad filing through the exits, and the Indians were boisterously pounding Bearden across the back and half-carrying him in triumph off the field.

Eddie Stanky, a steady little character right through the series, opened the ninth by drawing a walk as the crowd roared. Connie Ryan ran for him. Then came the heartbreaker. Sibby Sisti went in to pinch-hit for Warren Spahn, who done a brilliant piece of relief chunking for two innings, and attempted to sacrifice Ryan to second with the tying run.

Instead, he bunted under Bearden's pitch and lofted the ball straight up, directly in front of the plate. Catcher Jim Hegan snared the horsehide and fired it to Joe Gordon, who was covering first, for a double play.

The Braves were dead Injuns. Tommy Holmes, hero of Boston's victory in the opening game, lined out to Bob Kennedy in left field to end the contest and make all Cleveland happy.

Only the previous inning, the eighth, the Braves brought the customers to their feet by slugging Bob Lemon, Cleveland's starting chunker, from the hill and scoring twice to draw within a run of the Indians, who apparently had been coasting to an easy win behind the big righthander.

When Bearden inherited the ugly situation, the bases were loaded with Braves only one was out. Two Bostons scored on a long fly to center by Clint Conatser and Phil Masi's ringing double off the left field wall. Both Conatser and Masi were pinchhitters. But that was all as the great southpaw bore down to get Mike McCormick on an infield roller.

Cleveland scored its first three runs off Bill Voiselle, one of them a home run over the left field wall by Joe Gordon in the sixth. Spahn, doing his second relief chore in as many days, gave up the last Indian marker in the eighth before he got his bearings.

It proved, of course, to be the winning run of the series. Ken Keltner, a terrible batting bust in the first five games, set it up by smashing an infield hit off Spahn's glove. Thurman Tucker , who replaced Walt Judnich in the Indian outfield for the closing tussle, pushed Keltner around to second with a smack to center, and Ed Robinson drove him home with a single to right.

That, as it turned, out was the last the Indians saw of Spahn. He stuck out Hegan to end the inning, and in the ninth set down Bearden, Bob Kennedy and Larry Doby in succession with his elusive curves. In yesterday's game at Cleveland he struck out five of the last six Indians to face him.

Lemon, going for his second series triumph, was well in sight of it before the Braves ganged him in the eighth. Up to that point he had yielded six hits to the National leaguers and seemed to have the situation well in hand.

After doubles by Dale Mitchell and Manager Lou Boudreau had put Cleveland in front in the third. Boston contrived to score on an assortment of odds and ends in the fourth to tie it up.

Bob Elliott got on when Lemon failed to field his dribbler down the third base line. He reached second as Bill Salkeld worked Lemon for a walk. Mike McCormick brought him on around with a smash through the box into center field. Elliott barely sliding in under Tucker's throw to the plate.

Voiselle, whose proudest boast going into today's game was that he had never been licked by an American league club, kept the Indians in tight check through the first frames except for Boudreau's scoring punch down the right field line. Going into the sixth the tall man from Ninety-Six, N.C., had sawed the Indians off with four hits and had struck out a pair of them.

Gordon, who had made only three previous hits in the series, opened the sixth with a towering homer over the left barricade at a point about 350 feet from the plate. It was Joe's 33rd circuit smash of the year.

The Indians eked out their second score of the inning when Tucker drew on a walk, moved around on Robinson's sharp single to right and raced home as Hegan hit into a forceout. Actually, it should have been a double play to end the inning. Stanky took Elliott's peg at second for the force and fired to first in plenty of time for the double, but Earl Torgeson let the ball bounce from his mitt.

In other words, the new world champions would not have scored their run if Voiselle had received perfect support, and they would not have pushed the clincher across in the eighth if Spahn had fielded a little more briskly on Keltner's shot off his glove.

Vosielle gave way for a pinch-hitter in the seventh after having allowed seven hits. It was a valiant effort by a pitcher who worked only nine complete games during the season and finished with a won-lost record of 13-13.

Lemon said after the game that he simply tired in the eighth. Three double plays helped him out of jams in earlier innings but this time he got in too deep.

Holmes opened the inning by pelting a single to center. Al Dark filed out, but Torgeson rapped a short double down the right field line to hustle Holmes around to third and inject furious activity in the Cleveland bullpen.

Lemon, unable to settle down, walked Elliott to fill the bases - the fourth time the Boston third sacker had reached first in the games. That was when Boudreau called a halt and wig-wagged for Bearden.

The crowd, though hostile to the Indians, gave the southpaw a pleasant greeting as he strolled in. They recalled his great effort of the third game, in which he muzzled the Braves with five scattered hits and shut them out.

So tense and silent were the fans as Bearden pitched to Conaster that the voices of the Cleveland infielders yelling encouragement to the lefty could be heard clearly in the grandstand. Conaster's fly to Tucker gave Holmes plenty of time to scamper home. And then Masi, pinch-hitting for Bill Salkeld, really caught hold of one.

For a moment it looked as if the ball might clear the fence, but it banged against the boards high up and bounced back as Torgeson roared home and Elliott reached third.

Then, with the tying and winning runs aboard, Bearden forced Mike McCormick to rap weakly to the box, and he tossed him out with much to spare. The series was over, except for Boston's brief flare-up in the ninth.

For Bearden, today's stint climaxed nine days of remarkable industry. It was he who shut out Detroit a week ago last Saturday to help carry his club into a playoff for the American league flag. And it also was the purple heart veteran of the Pacific fighting who kicked tar out of Boston's Red Sox.


The AP Corporate Archives contributed to this report