Here are some of the important, interesting, or just plain strange events that occurred this week in Tribe history.
September 29, 1954
With runners on first and second and no outs, Vic Wertz stepped to the plate in the eighth inning of Game One of the World Series. With the score tied at two, Wertz drove Don Liddle’s offering deep into the cavernous center field at the Polo Grounds. Willie Mays turned and ran towards the center-field wall, making his iconic over-the-shoulder catch. The Catch along with his quick turn and throw-back to the infield prevented the two Tribe runners from scoring. Mays’ outstanding play robbed Wertz of at least a double as well.
The Tribe went on to lose the game and the series in four. One has to wonder what happens if Mays does not make that catch. The Indians would have had a 4-2 lead with a man at second or third and no one out in the eighth inning. If the Tribe wins this game, they take the home-field advantage away from the Giants. Perhaps they win the World Series and there is no title drought.
One further note, Wertz went 4/5 in the ball game with a double, a triple and two RBI. His only out was via Mays’ extraordinary catch.
September 30, 1995
Facing Melvin Bunch of the Kansas City Royals in the sixth inning, Albert Belle smashed a 2-2 pitch to deep left field for a game-tying home run. More importantly, the home run marked his 50th of the strike-shortened season. Belle became the first Tribe player in its long history to reach this milestone. With this homer, he also became the first, and only player to hit at least 50 home runs and 50 doubles in the same season.
Since Belle hit 50 only Jim Thome (52 in 2002) has managed to hit at least 50 homers in a season for the Indians.
October 2, 1908
On this date, Addie Ross faced 27 Chicago White Sox batters and retired all 27 in order. This marked the first time in Naps/Indians history that a pitcher threw a perfect game. The Tribe defeated the Sox, 1-0. Ross needed just 74 pitches to complete his perfect game. However, the Tribe’s bats also struggled as White Sox starter Eddie Walsh struck out a league-record 15 batters over the course of eight innings. He allowed one run on four hits with a walk to pick up the tough-luck loss. Amazingly, this loss dropped Walsh’s record to 39-15 while Ross improved to 24-11. The October 3, 1908 edition of The Plain Dealer wrote that this was the “Greatest Game in History of Big League Baseball.”
Following the game, Addie Ross said,
“About the seventh inning I began to realize that not one of the Sox had reached first base. No one on the bench dared breathe a word to that effect. Had he done so, he would have been chased to the clubhouse. Even I rapped on wood when I thought of it. I did not try for such a record. All I was doing was trying to beat Chicago, for the game meant much to us, and Walsh was pitching the game of his life. I never saw him have so much.”¹
This was just the second perfect game in the modern World Series era (1903-present), following Boston’s Cy Young’s perfecto in 1904 against Philadelphia. Incredibly, this was the second no-hitter by an Indians pitcher in the span of two weeks. Bob Rhoads tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history on September 18 (covered HERE).
¹ https://didthetribewinlastnight.com/blog/2019/10/02/today-in-tribe-history-october-2-1908-7/, accessed on October 2, 2020