Tag Archives: Cleveland Indians

1945 Cubs Sluggers and A 1948 Indians Championship

The Last Time:

Cubs In World Series, 1945; Indians Were World Champions, 1948

Cubs May Have Had Sluggers, But They Still Lost to Tigers in ’45; Indians Prevailed Over Braves in ’48

1945 Cubs Sluggers: Lowery, Secory, Nicholson, Pafko and Sauer photo: William Greene

1945 Cubs Sluggers: (l-r) Lowery, Secory, Nicholson, Pafko and Sauer photo: William Greene

The news photograph above was captioned “1945 Cubs Sluggers.” That may be a bit of a misnomer as Harry “Peanuts” Lowery hit seven home runs in 143 games, the most he ever hit in his 13 year career.

Frank Secory hit no homers in 35 games. Bill “Swish” Nicholson, the only true slugger in this photograph led the National League in homers in 1943 and 1944 with 29 and 33 home runs respectively. In 1945 Nicholson led the Cubs with a mere 13 home runs in 151 games. Andy Pafko hit 12 home runs and drove in 110 runs in 144 games. And Ed Sauer had two homers in 49 games.

As a team the 1945 Cubs hit only 57 home runs. On the other hand their pitchers allowed only 57 home runs.

In the closely contested World Series, none of the “Cubs sluggers” hit a home run. National League MVP Phil Caverretta hit the only homer and led the Cubs with a .423 batting average.

Claude Passeau and Rudy York before game 1 1945 World Series photo: International News

Claude Passeau and Rudy York before game 1 1945 World Series photo: International News

Before game 4 of the World Series began, this photo was taken. The caption reads: Continue reading

Bob Feller Signs His Final Contract – 1956

60 Years Ago Today Bob Feller Signs His Final Playing Contract

Indians pitcher Bob Feller (l) and catcher Jim Hegan (r) sit between GM Hank Greenberg as they sign their 1956 contracts - February 9, 1956

Indians pitcher Bob Feller (l) and catcher Jim Hegan (r) sit between GM Hank Greenberg as they sign their 1956 contracts – February 9, 1956

Bob Feller was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball; certainly many of his contemporaries thought so like Ted Williams who said that Feller was the fastest and best pitcher he ever faced. Feller’s career record of winning 266 games while losing just 162 was just one facet of his dominance. His blazing fastball helped him earn 44 shutouts, throw three no-hitters and 12 one-hitters.

Feller became the first American professional athlete to enlist in World War II by volunteering Continue reading

Orioles In Spring Training – 1972

Mark “Dutch” Weems, Ralph “Mickey” Scott and Wayne Garland

Mark Weems Ralph Scott Wayne Garland March 1972

They were supposed to be the Baltimore Orioles pitchers of the future. Of the three Orioles pitchers seen here at spring training in March 1972, only one would have success in the major leagues.

Mark “Dutch” Weems (left) never made it to the majors and was out of organized ball in 1973 at the age of 22 after posting a 24-19 record in five minor league seasons. Ralph “Mickey” Scott (center – throwing) bounced round the majors from 1972 -1977 appearing in 133 games and compiling a 8-7 record. He passed away at the age of 64 in 2011.

The star of this group was Wayne Garland (right), the Orioles the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 1969 (June secondary) amateur baseball draft.

The Orioles took a chance by drafting Garland who had declined previous chances to play. The Pittsburgh Pirates chose Garland in the fifth round of the 1968 amateur draft but he did not sign with them. The St. Louis Cardinals then made him the first overall pick in the (January secondary) 1969 draft, but once again Garland did not sign.

Wayne Garland had six nondescript seasons in the minors and majors until 1976 when he went 20-7 with a 2.67 ERA for the Orioles. He was paid $23,000 that season and became a free agent in the off season.

It was the beginning of the free agency era in baseball and Garland became one of the highest paid players in the majors when he signed with the Cleveland Indians for $2.3 million for 10 years.

At the time I thought it was bizarre to give any player a ten year contract. As Ira Berkow of New York Times pointed out, “Many baseball people wondered how the Indians could pay so much for a player with only one good major league season. They are still wondering.” Continue reading

Mickey Mantle’s Last Game At Yankee Stadium

Unlike Mariano Rivera’s Farewell, No Fanfare And Only 5,723 Fans At Yankee Stadium – September 25, 1968

June 8, 1969 - Mickey Mantle Day- Mantle gazes, as former Yankees announcer Mel Allen in the background

Mickey Mantle looks on as his longtime teammate Whitey Ford announces his retirement May 30, 1967.

With all the celebrations surrounding Mariano Rivera’s retirement and last game at Yankee Stadium, it got me thinking about Mickey Mantle’s last game at Yankee Stadium.

It was a sunny day on Wednesday, September 25, 1968 and not being able to attend school yet because I was too young, my father who worked a night shift took me to Yankee Stadium to see a meaningless 2:00 pm game between the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees. It was the last home game of the season for the 5th place Yankees. I vividly remember the game, but it originally wouldn’t be because it was Mickey Mantle’s last game at Yankee Stadium. Continue reading

Remembering Bobby Murcer And A Good Day At The Plate

Bobby Murcer: 40 Years Ago Today, April 11, 1973

Baseball Murcer vs Indians 4 11 73

Bobby Murcer vs. Cleveland Indians April 11, 1973

On this date, Wednesday, April 11, 1973, the New York Yankees were at home against the Cleveland Indians and playing their fifth game of the year. They had lost their first four.

Bobby Murcer batting clean-up went 3 for 4 with a double and two singles and scored two runs in a Yankee 4-0 victory.

It is sometimes hard to believe that decades have passed on events that seem like they occurred only a few years ago.

Growing up in the Bronx, my two favorite Yankees were Ron Blomberg and Bobby Murcer. It was a little easier to root for Murcer because he was in the line-up a lot more than the oft-injured Blomberg.

Murcer was probably the best position player on those late 1960’s, early 1970’s Yankee teams which were generally not very good.  Until Thurman Munson, Lou Pinella, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles and others joined the Yankees, the team had few bright spots.

Because of their shared Oklahoma heritage and other vague similarities, some fans were expecting (unfairly) for Murcer to be the next incarnation of Mickey Mantle and carry the team to the playoffs.

No player should have that burden placed upon him. Murcer had solid season after solid season, but he knew that he was never going to be the next Mickey Mantle.

Bobby Murcer was traded in a shocking blockbuster deal after the 1974 season and missed out on being a member of the Yankee world championship teams of 1977 and 1978. He returned to the Yankees in 1979 and did get into a World Series in a losing effort against the Dodgers in 1981. Bobby Murcer retired after 1983 and became a Yankee TV and radio announcer. Beloved by many fans and players in baseball, Murcer contracted a brain tumor and died of cancer at the age of 62 in 2008.

Some interesting notes concerning this April 11 game –

It was a day game. Why play night games in New York in early April? So the temperature can drop an additional 25 degrees and fans and players can freeze? MLB and the teams didn’t try and maximize attendance figures by playing in conditions not conducive to baseball (see current November World Series as an example).

The attendance was 5,059. (Which is the rationale that now most weekday games are scheduled as night games.)

The game was completed in two hours and 29 minutes.

Mel Stottlemyre pitched a complete game two hit shutout, striking out six but walking eight.

Indians starter Gaylord Perry also went the distance. Perry ended up with 19 wins and 19 losses in 1973 and pitched 29 complete games. That is four more complete games than the top five (Verlander, Dickey, Hernandez, Peavy and Harrison) complete game leaders combined for in 2012.

All three of Bobby Murcer’s hits were to left field. Murcer generally could not stand hitting against Gaylord Perry and constantly complained publicly that Perry was cheating by loading-up the ball. For his career Murcer batted .232 against Perry.

The Agony of Defeat

The Day After The Yankees Were Swept in a Late Season Doubleheader – 1954

The day of September 13, 1954 was not a happy one for Yankees fans as can be seen in the photo above. Reality sank in for eleven-year-old Walter Golle as he sat in front of Yankee Stadium. The dejection shown in Walter’s face reflected the fact that the Yankees would not be in the World Series for the first time since 1948 when Walter was five-years-old. The Yankees had won five consecutive World Series from 1949-1953.

The day before, on September 12, the Cleveland Indians had swept the Yankees in a doubleheader in Cleveland. The games were witnessed by 86,563 fans, the largest crowd to ever see a baseball game in the cavernous Municipal Stadium.

September 12, 1954 Municipal Stadium Filled

Bob Lemon won the first game 4-1 for his twenty-second win of the year and Early Wynn triumphed 3-2 in the second game for his twenty-first victory. The Yankees ended the day being 8 and a half games behind the Indians, reducing Cleveland’s magic number for clinching the pennant to three games.

The Indians would go on to win an American League record 111 games, and finish the season eight games ahead of the Yankees.  Miraculously the New York Giants defeated the heavily favored Indians four games to none in the World Series.

Walter eventually got over the Yankees 1954 failure. Here is what he looked like 46 years later in 2000 from The Norwood News Inquiring Photographer.

And Here’s The Batter’s Box…

Gil McDougald Needs to Be Reminded Where He Can Stand

Photo © Bill Nehez

New York Yankee third baseman Gil McDougald had one of the most unorthodox batting stances of all time.  He would face the pitcher with both feet pointing towards the mound in an open stance.

At Municipal Stadium on June 12, 1953 the Cleveland Indians were upset with where McDougald was standing, claiming his right foot was over the line of the batter’s box. Continue reading

Vintage Photos – Stealing Home

or Jackie Robinson Makes Stealing Home Look Easy

One of the most famous film highlights of a baseball game is from September 28, Game 1 of the 1955 World Series where the Brooklyn Dodgers star Jackie Robinson stole home against the New York Yankees. The photograph above captures the bang-bang action. The play was incredibly close and you could look at the film 100 times and still not be sure of the outcome. Robinson was called safe by umpire Bill Summers. To this day, Yankees catcher Yogi Berra vehemently Continue reading