(Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia, Early Wynn)
The year was 1951. It was the second of August, and the Indians were sitting pretty with a record of 59-39-1. They had just split a doubleheader against the Washington Senators the day before, and had one game left in D.C. before shipping up to Philadelphia for four games against the Athletics. Steve Gromek took the mound that day for the Tribe, one of just eight starts he would make on the season. He went a full 9 innings, surrendering just one earned run on four hits to the Senators. Larry Doby hit a two run shot in the 3rd, and the Indians would go on to win the game 5-2.
They wouldn’t lose again for two weeks.
The Athletics went down easy enough. Cleveland took all four games in Philadelphia, the first two being two-run games, the final two (a doubleheader) by a three run margin. Early Wynn, who threw 7 innings just two days before and who would end the season tied for the team lead in games started, got the save in game 1, throwing a perfect inning and 1/3. Bob Lemon went the distance and Al Rosen left the yard in game 3, and that same Mr. Wynn who saved game 1 tossed a complete game in the series finale. Five in a row.
The Tribe then returned home for a couple against St. Louis. The Browns were easily dispatched thanks to a couple more complete games from Indians starters, one from Mike Garcia (he also hit a 3 run dinger in the game) and the other from the great Bob Feller. Seven in a row.
The homestand continued with three against the Chicago White Sox. The first two games were decided by a total of three runs, 6-4 and 2-1 victories for the good guys. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Bob Lemon went the distance in game 1, striking out 4. Rosen was 2-4 with a two run bomb. That bad man Early Wynn toed the rubber in game 2, and yep, his second consecutive complete game followed. That’s a stretch of 7 IP-1.1 IP save-CG-CG over 9 days for him. Wynn was also 2-3 with a solo homer, and Rosen drove in the other run for the Tribe. Game three was a 7-1 slaughter. Another complete game from Garcia and homers from Bobby Avila (2-run), Doby (solo) and Ray Boone (2-run) led the way. Ten in a row.
Two games against the Detroit Tigers would cap off the homestand before the Tribe headed out west to St. Louis. You could sense the boys were maybe running out of steam a bit, as both games were hard fought 1 run victories. Feller spun the Indians seventh consecutive complete game in game 1, and another homer from Rosen would prove to be the difference. Lemon gave up 5 in 5 innings in game 2, but three hits from Jim Hegan and a couple of RBI from Boone gave him a no-decision and gave the Indians yet another W. Twelve in a row.
There was a riot at the (away team’s) bat rack the next day in St. Louis. Rosen clobbered a grand slam, Doby was 3-3 with a triple and an RBI and Wynn got the…..win, 9-4 the final. Thirteen in a row.
And as we all know, this is where the ride ended. The Tribe’s 13 game winning streak was snapped the next day by the St. Louis Browns. Southpaw Tommy Byrne held the Indians to just 2 hits over 7 innings of work, and Duane Pillette allowed a single hit while going the final 2 for the Browns.
The Indians record was 60-39-1 at the start of the streak. Two weeks later, it was 72-39-1. They would finish the season at 93-61-1, good for second in the American League behind the eventual World Series champion New York Yankees.
(game summaries from Baseball Almanac box scores)
Other happenings in 1951 (Link):
- The 22nd Amendment of the United States Constitution (limits a President to two terms) was ratified.
- The first NBA All-Star Game was played in Boston.
- Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland premiered in London.
- J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye was published.
- The first Volkswagen Beetle was manufactured.
- Bobby Thompson hit a walk-off home run to win the NL pennant, known as “The Shot Heard Round the World”
- CBS “Eye” logo first appears on television
- Rush Limbaugh, Phil Collins, Kurt Russell, Tommy Hilfiger, Tony Danza, Dale Earnhardt, Robin Williams, Mack Brown, Michael Keaton, Pete Carroll, Mark Hamill, Sting, Keb’ Mo’, John Mellencamp, Lou Ferrigno, Marc Summers, TOM HAMILTON (the bass player) were born.
- Prices of things (Link):
- Milk – $0.92
- Gas – $0.20
- Bread – $0.16
- House – $16,000
- Avg. Income – $3,515
KEEP THE CHIEF