This Week in Tribe History

Here are some of the important, interesting, or just plain strange events that occurred this week in Tribe history. 

September 23, 1949 

After being officially eliminated from the American League pennant chase the day before, owner Bill Veeck decided to hold a funeral service for the 1948 pennant in order to mourn the death of the Tribe’s hopes for a championship that season. According to espn.com,

Twenty minutes prior to a game against Detroit, the funeral procession formed behind the right-field wall, near the Cleveland bullpen. A copy of the Sporting News was brought along as a representation of a holy book, since “baseball men refer to (it) as their ‘Bible.'” Veeck even arranged for an 1890s-era horse-drawn hearse to take the pennant into the park as a band played a funeral procession. The pennant was entombed in a pine coffin, and a number of coaches and officials acted as “pallbearers” — player/manager Lou Boudreau, coaches Bill McKechnie, Steve O’Neill and Muddy Ruel, general manager Hank Greenberg, traveling secretary Spud Goldstein, and publicist Marshall Samuel. Players joined the funeral procession as it passed the home dugout, and the 29,646 fans in attendance were told that they were there to mourn the “passing of a pennant.” The coffin containing the deceased was buried just beyond the outfield wall with a cardboard tombstone bearing the inscription “Here lies the 1948 champs.”¹

The cloth pennant has not been seen since Veeck’s stunt. More importantly to Tribe fans, a World Series victory has not come to Cleveland in the decades after the burial of the ’48 pennant. Consequently, there are some in Cleveland who blame this, and not the ill-fated trade of Rocky Colavito in 1960, as the source of the curse hanging over the Tribe’s inability to end its World Series drought.

September 25, 1954 

The Indians were firing on all cylinders as they took down the Detroit Tigers, 11-1. The offense cranked out 11 runs on 14 hits as Early Wynn picked up his league-leading 23rd win while limiting the Tigers’ bats to one run on two hits (although he sprinkled in four walks). More importantly, the win marked the 111th victory for the Tribe, surpassing the 1927 New York Yankees and their 110 wins, to set the American League record for victories in a season.

Sadly, the New York Giants swept the Tribe in the World Series, knocking the organization into a tailspin from which they did not recover from until 1995.

Since then, two other teams have eclipsed the Tribe’s mark in the American League. The Yankees did so in 1998 with 114 wins while the Mariners broke the AL record and tied the Major League Baseball record when they won 116 games in 2001.*

September 27, 1914 

On this date, Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie knocked his 3,000th career hit against Marty McHale of the New York Yankees. Lajoie became only the third member of the 3,000-hit club, joining Honus Wagner and Cap Anson. The 1914 season marked the end of Lajoie’s time with the Tribe. His career ended two years later while playing with Philadelphia. Over the course of his 21-year career, Lajoie collected 3,243 hits with 2,047 of those hits coming while playing for the Indians.

 

1. https://www.espn.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/33444/chasing-the-indians-missing-1948-pennant, accessed on September 24, 2020.

*It should be noted that the Mariners won 116 games in 162 games while the 1906 Chicago Cubs won 116 times in 10 fewer games, good for a .763 win percentage.

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