Saturday, June 12, 2010

I've Got Baseball Patches

I have a collection of baseball patches in a big binder. Basically, it's like a step above stamp collectors on the cool ladder, but that's a really tall ladder. I'll share one with our OBP readers periodically.

Today we look at the 1948 Cleveland Indians, the last Cleveland team to win a major sports championship.

Lou Boudreau: "Old Shufflefoot", or "Handsome Joe" to the ladies, was the Tribe's player-manager and he did both well. The shortstop had a monstrous year at the plate, hitting .355 with a .453 on-base percentage and an OPS+ of 164. He struck out nine times in '48, completing a three-year stretch where he went down on strikes just 33 times. Boudreau was also pretty good at managing as the Indians beat the Boston Redsox 8-3 in a one-game playoff to clinch the AL pennant, then won the World Series in six over the Boston Braves.

Satchel finally gets his break: Veeck had already helped break the American League color barrier when he signed Larry Doby before the 1947 season, and the owner made history again in '48. After a long career in the Negro Leagues, Satchel Paige made his debut with Cleveland July 9 and had an excellent last two and a half months: 72 2/3 IP, 1.14 WHIP, 2.48 ERA and a 165 ERA+.

Good Ole Joe Earley: Veeck would never shy away from a public relations spectacle and he pulled off one of the most ridiculous during the '48 season. Indians fan Joe Earley had sent a letter to Veeck asking why the team's promotions seemed to ignore the average fan. So Veeck set up Good Ole Joe Earley Night before the September 28 game against the Whitesox. Earley and his wife were presented with an automobile and other gifts. A similar thing happened to me when I wrote a letter to the Yankees during the 1990 season. You can imagine my surprise when a few weeks later an envelope came in the mail containing one of manager Stump Merrill's hemorrhoids.


Grading system:

Archie Graham's Sacrifice Fly
Excellent logo; classic.

Jake Taylor's Swing
Good logo with a hitch, but still productive.

Scott Smalls' hat
Not a great logo, but they had to use something.

Rudy Stein's Pitching Motion
No idea where anything is going.

Kelly Leak's Teeth
Absolutely awful. No hope.

1948 Cleveland Indians: Jake Taylor's Swing

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