Beginning with the Cleveland Indians’ hard luck during World War II, this thrilling history follows the team through its historic role in racial integration and its legendary postwar comeback. Rich with player photographs and stories, this book is sure to excite American history buffs and baseball fans alike.
In early 1942, baseball team owners across the country scrambled to assemble makeshift rosters from the remaining ballplayers who had not left the sport for the armed forces. The Cleveland Indians suffered a tremendous loss when star pitcher Bob Feller became the first Major Leaguer to enlist, taking his twenty-plus wins per year with him. To make matters worse, the Indians’ new player-manager, Lou Boudreau, had no coaching or managing experience. The resulting team was mediocre, and players struggled to keep up morale.
Feller’s return in late 1945 sparked a spectacular comeback. A year later Bill Veeck bought the franchise and, over the next two years, signed the first American League players to break the color barrier: Larry Doby and Satchel Paige. The 1948 season ended with the Indians and Boston Red Sox tied, resulting in the American League’s first playoff game. Thanks in part to rookie Gene Bearden’s outstanding pitching, the Indians went on to beat the National League’s Boston Braves for their second World Series title.
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About the Author
Scott H. Longert is the author of six books (including four Ohio University Press titles) on Cleveland baseball history from the post–Civil War era through the middle of the twentieth century. He has an MA in American history from Cleveland State University and has appeared on numerous broadcast media shows and baseball documentaries. Longert is a lifetime resident of Cleveland, where he lives with his wife, Vicki, and several dogs and cats.