On October 11, 1948, the Cleveland Indians defeat the Boston Braves in Game Six to win the World Series. Joe Gordon hits a home run in support of future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon, who earns a 4-3 victory-his second win of the Series…
A few more feet was all Clint Conatser needed. His hard shot to center with the bases loaded and the Braves trailing 4-1 in the eighth inning of Game Six of the 1948 World Series was caught by Cleveland’s Thurman Tucker against the outfield fence; had the ball hit or cleared the wall just above Tucker’s glove, there is a good chance the Braves might have rallied to capture the game and set up a winner-take-all finale at the ballpark the next afternoon. Ace Johnny Sain, who had allowed just nine hits and two runs over 17 stellar series innings, was already set to start the seventh game for Boston.
Conatser, however, didn’t get those extra feet. His pinch-hit smash off Indians hurler Gene Bearden wound up as a helpful but inglorious sacrifice fly that scored Tommy Holmes from third and cut the score to 4-2. Phil Masi followed with a pinch-double to bring Boston one run closer, but Bearden stopped the rally there. After he shut down the Braves in the ninth as well, the victory and the championship went to Cleveland. Bearden (who also pitched a shutout in Game Three) was the hero, and Conatser merely a footnote in the box score – long forgotten to history.
The easygoing Californian has always pondered what could have been. “[Cleveland manager Lou] Boudreau had taken Larry Doby out and put Thurman Tucker in center field,” said Conatser. “If you look at the reports, it says I hit a long fly. Well, I hit a SHOT, on 3-and-2, that Tucker made a hell of a play on in left-center. Tucker hit the fence – it was just a great play. Doby played everybody shallow and never would have made the catch. Boudreau said that was the determining play of the World Series right there. If that ball goes in, we win, and come back with Sain the next day.”