Glenn Guzzo

 

NEXT FROM BASEBALL’S PAST:

THE 1948 SEASON

 

An AL Playoff, Satchel Paige and Huge Seasons for Boudreau, DiMaggio, Musial and Williams Await Gamers

 

By Glenn Guzzo

 

            The 1948 season, notable for the American League’s first pennant-deciding pennant race and Satchel Paige’s major-league debut, will be the next old-timer season created by Strat-O-Matic.

 

            Past-season research expert Steve Barkan said 1948 was chosen after an online poll of gamers matched the game company’s desire to fill in the few gaps of Post-World War II seasons never reproduced in advanced/super-advanced form.

 

            Strat-O-Matic has gone back in time to re-create 24 full seasons in advanced/super-advanced form since it began doing so in 1982, but it had not done any seasons in the period 1942-49, the longest stretch of unaccounted-for seasons in the Strat-O-Matic library.  

 

            The 1948 season had many highlights:

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The start of a four-year dogfight between Boston, Cleveland and New York, who finished in the top three of the AL from 1948-51. After Boston’s AL pennant in 1946 and New York’s in 1947, it was Cleveland’s turn in 1948, but only after winning a one-game playoff with the Red Sox. With two games to play in the regular season, the Yankees and Red Sox trailed the Indians by one game. Boston eliminated New York on the next-to-last day, and then tied Cleveland on the final day.

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The Indians had MVP Lou Boudreau (.355-18-108), who hit two homers in the playoff clincher, 30-homer, 100-RBI men Joe Gordon and Ken Keltner, plus .336-hitter Dale Mitchell. They also had the first full season for Larry Doby (.301-14-66), who broke the AL color barrier in a 32-at-bat performance the year prior. On the mound, 1948 was the one great season for lefty Gene Bearden, who led the AL with a 2.43 ERA, won his 20th game in the playoff with the Red Sox, tossed a shutout to win Game 3 of the World Series, and then saved the Series-clinching game for fellow 20-game winner Bob Lemon.

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Negro League legend Satchel Paige joined the Indians at mid-season and, at age 41, went 6-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 21 appearances that included seven starts, two of them shutouts.

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Paige, the pennant drive and promotions by owner Bill Veeck attracted a record 2,260,627 fans to Cleveland home games.

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The Yankees thrived on great seasons by Joe DiMaggio (.320-39-155) and Tommy Henrich (.308-25-100 with 42 doubles, 14 triples and 76 walks) and the Big Three pitching of Vic Raschi (19-8), Ed Lopat (17-11) and Allie Reynolds (16-7).

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The Red Sox’ majors-best offense was led by batting leader Ted Williams (.369-25-127 with .615 slugging and 126 walks) and its slugging middle infielders, Vern Stephens (29 HR, 137 RBI) and Bobby Doerr (27 HR, 111 RBI).

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The Red Sox’ final loss deprived Boston of a city World Series, as the Boston Braves won their first NL pennant since 1914. The Braves had five .300 hitters, including rookie-of-the-year SS Alvin Dark (.322) and 2B Eddie Stanky (.320) at the top of the order and OFs Jeff Heath (.319-20-78) and Tommy Holmes (.325). 3B Jim Elliott did most of the slugging, with 23 HR and 100 RBI. Johnny Sain 24-15, 2.60 to lead

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The Braves were 6 ½  games better than St. Louis, despite Stan Musial’s monster season (.376-39-131, with 48 doubles, 18 triples, 135 runs, 230 hits and .702 slugging). He led the NL in all of those categories, except homers, falling one short of the Giants’ Johnny Mize, Pittsburgh’s Ralph Kiner and the Triple Crown.

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The Cardinals also had left-hander Harry Brecheen, who had a majors-best 2.24 ERA and a 20-7 record.

 

The 1948 season is expected to be released by Strat-O-Matic in January 2005.