1st In the Friday opener of three games with Detroit, the Indians take a 3–2 lead into the 9th. Starter Bob Lemon picks up a swinging bunt by Eddie Mayo and then plunks the runner in the back with the throw. He strikes out a batter, then walks two to load the bases, and Russ Christopher relieves and walks in Johnny Lipon with the tying run. A dropped throw at first on a 5-2-3 possible DP leaves the door open for Jimmy Outlaw’s two-run single over Joe Gordon’s head. The Tigers win, 5–3, to slice the Tribe’s lead to a game.
2nd The Red Sox, a game in back of the Indians, host the Yankees in a critical match for both teams. Ted Williams gives Boston a two-run lead in the 1st with a HR off a Tommy Byrne fast ball, and Jack Kramer posts his 18th win in beating New York 5–1. For Kramer, it is his 5th win of the year over the Yanks. New York can now finish no better than 2nd place.
The Indians are sure of at least a tie by whitewashing Detroit 8–0 behind Gene Bearden, now 19–6. It is Bearden’s 2nd straight shutout and 6th straight victory. Larry Doby has 4 hits to lead the offense.
The Senators, using second stringers and rookies, beat the A’s, 7–1. Pitcher Carl Scheib plays LF for the A’s and goes 0-for-3. Tomorrow he’ll play RF and go 0-for-3 again, ending the year at .298. The A’s finish in 4th place (84-70) and are the first team ever to finish above .500 while scoring fewer runs than their opponents (729–735).
3rd On the last day of the regular season, Cleveland’s hopes for a Yankee win over the Red Sox are dashed when New York rookie Bob Porterfield can’t hold a 2–0 lead. With New York trailing 5–4, reliever Vic Raschi gives up HRs to Dom DiMaggio, one of his 4 hits, and Vern Stephens in the 6th inning, and Boston wins, 10–5. The other DiMaggio has two doubles, two singles and 3 RBIs for New York. Earl Johnson, in relief of Joe Dobson in the 5th, is the winner.
Detroit hitters cuff Bob Feller and 5 relievers for 15 hits to make Newhouser’s 21st win an easy 7–1 victory. It is Newhouser’s 2nd and last win over Feller in his career. Vic Wertz has three doubles for the Bengals. Despite the loss, Bill Veeck donates the club’s share from the gate receipts of 74,191 to Cleveland’s Community Chest. The Indians and the Red Sox end the year in a tie, necessitating a one-game playoff. But a philosophical Veeck observes, “We feel that no matter who pitches tomorrow for Boston, he’ll not be a Newhouser—certainly not the Newhouser we faced today.”
Johnny Vander Meer fires a 2-hit shutout to beat the Pirates, 1–0. The win keeps the Reds out of last place.
The Cubs edge the Cardinals, 4-3, but they finish in last place, a half game in back of the Reds. The win goes to Dutch McCall (4-13), his third victory in a row after losing 13 straight. Cubs OF Carmen Mauro collects his first ML hit, an inside-the-park homer in the 3rdoff Murry Dickson, but the Cubs finish last in the NL in homers for the only time this century since they’ve occupied Wrigley Field. Cards infielder/outfielder Erv Dusak pitches a scoreless 9th inning. Dusak will spend much of next year in the minors as a pitcher, returning for two seasons with the Cardinals and Pirates.
Johnny Mize hits his 40th HR of the year to again tie Ralph Kiner for the NL lead, as was the case in 1947. Kiner had hit his final 1948 HR on September 26. In 1946 rookie Kiner led with 23 to the 22 of Mize, who missed 50 games because of injury. Mize’s homer is the only NY score as the visiting Braves prevail, 11-1.
Curt Simmons, 19, runs his record to 7-13 as the Phils defeat the Dodgers, 4-2. Brooklyn starter Rex Barney breaks his leg in two places sliding into 2B. His leg will heal crooked and the young fireballer will never pitch as well again, his ML career over in 1950 at 24. This year he led the Dodgers in wins (15), strikeouts, innings pitched and starts.
Luke Easter’s grand slam highlights the Homestead Grays’ 19-hit assault on the Birmingham Black Barons in the 4th game of the Negro World Series. The Grays will win the Championship in 5 games. This will be the final Negro WS, as the Negro National League becomes a casualty of integration and folds during the winter.
Oakland (PCL) scores 16 runs in the last three innings to whip Los Angeles in a wild playoff game, 23-16. John Ostrowski hits two grand slams for the Angels.
4th In a one-game playoff for the AL pennant at Fenway Park, the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Red Sox 8–3 behind rookie knuckleballer Gene Bearden, who wins his 20th game. Red Sox manager Joe McCarthy ignores the well-rested rotation pitchers Ellis Kinder and Mel Parnell to go with journeyman Denny Galehouse (8-7). With the score 1–1 in the 4th, Ken Keltner hits a 3-run HR over the LF fence. Player-manager Lou Boudreau gets 4 hits, including a pair of homers, and finishes the year with just 9 strikeouts, the lowest number since 1922.
The Cubs send Bill Nicholson to the Phillies for former NL batting champ Harry Walker. The Inquirer predicts this is a forerunner of further trades with the Cubs.
The Yankees fire Bucky Harris as manager, announcing that the new manager will be named later. Several men are being considered, “not including a player active with the 1948 team.” Minor league manager Jim Turner’s name is mentioned as a possibility.
In St. Louis, Taylor Spink, publisher of The Sporting News writes in a Baltimore newspaper that Baltimore will have an AL team within two years. “You can put a clothespin in this: Baltimore will be in the American League, if not next year, then surely in 1950.”
6th In the WS opener in Boston, Phil Masi is called safe at 2B on a disputed call by umpire Bill Stewart on a pickoff attempt in the 8th. Masi then scores on a single by Tommy Holmes as Johnny Sain and the Boston Braves top the Cleveland Indians and Bob Feller 1–0.
7th Cleveland ties the Series on Bob Lemon’s 4–1 win over Warren Spahn. Two runs score in the 4th on hits by Lou Boudreau, Joe Gordon, and Larry Doby.
8th Indian Gene Bearden faces only 30 batters as he turns in a 5-hit, 2–0 win before 70,000 at Cleveland. Bearden also has two hits in beating Vern Bickford.
9th Before a record WS 81,897, the Indians take a 3-1 Series lead, as Steve Gromek outpitches Johnny Sain. The first HR of the Series, by Larry Doby, is decisive. Marv Rickert also homers for the Braves.
10th A 6-run 7th kayos Bob Feller and 2 successors for the Braves’ 11–5 victory. Satchel Paige makes his first series appearance, getting the final 2 outs in the 7th. Bob Elliott has 2 HRs, one for 3 runs, and both come of Feller. Warren Spahn, with 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, is the winner. The WS crowd is even larger than the day before, 86,288, only to be exceeded in the LA Coliseum in 1959.
11th In Boston, the Cleveland Indians nip the Braves 4–3 to take the WS in 6 games. Rookie lefty Gene Bearden is the pitching hero in relief beating Bill Voiselle.
In a curious move, the Cubs sell P Russ Meyer to the Phillies for $20,000. The “Mad Monk” (10–10, with 3 shutouts) was the only starter not under .500 and one of two pitchers to win 10 games. Meyer will go 17-9 with the Phils in 1949. After the Cubs beat Meyer and the Phillies next June 5, he will go 24-2 against his old club as a member of the Phils and Dodgers.
12th The Yankees hire Casey Stengel to manage in 1949.
27th Commissioner Chandler orders free agency for 10 Detroit-owned minor leaguers for the club’s cover-up of their contracts. One of the players who will make the ML is Bill Serena, with a 6-year career.