Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Indians vs Giants… 51 years later !

They say baseball is the most
historic of sports and this weekend
we will see sort of history when
the Cleveland Indians make their
first visit to San Francisco.

By Amaury Pi-GonzálezThis weekend at SBC Park in San Francisco the
Cleveland Indians will face the San Francisco Giants
for the first time in history, thanks to interleague
play which was set in effect nine seasons ago.
This (of course) has never been a rivalry so the
only real “history”between these two very old franchises developed during the Fall Classic of ’54.

The 1954 World Series between the Cleveland
Indians and the New York Giants.
It was kind of a surprise since the other New York
team, the Yankees were not in the Series but
the Giants of New York. The Yankees that
year won 103 games and have won the previous
five Fall Classic, but in 1954 the Indians won 111
times. They were too much even for the mighty

The New York Giants finished in fifth place just
the year before. In 1954 the Giants had Willie
Mays who hit .345 and led the National League
in home runs with 41 and also had 110 runs batted
in. He was fresh — returning from service
in the US Army. Johnny Antonelli won 21 games
for the Giants that year, he was acquired by the
Giants during the off season.

The Indians of 1954 won the American League
with a then record of 111 wins and 43 losses a
very hot .721 winning percentage. Cleveland had
one of the very best teams ever. Bobby Avila
born in Veracruz,México led the American League
in hitting with a .341 also 15 home runs and 67 runs
batted in. That year Avila became the first ever
Latino player to win a batting crown. The most
ever by a Latino is that of Minnesota Twins and
California Angels Panamanian Rod Carew, he
won seven batting titles. The Indians had
Al Rosen who batted .300 that season with
24 homers and 102 runs batted in. In the
mound they had Bob Lemon (23-7) and
Early Winn (23-11).

GAME #1: Polo Ground, New York:
(The Catch)
In the eight inning with the game tied 2-2
two Cleveland runners on base when Willie
Mays made an over-the-shoulder spectacular
catch regarded today as The Catch, the most
famous in baseball history. It was from a blast
from the bat of Vic Wertz to the 460 foot deepest
part of the Polo Grounds in center field. Mays
caught it then turned around and threw to the
infield preventing the runners from tagging or
scoring. The game was decided in the tenth
inning with the score tied 2-2, Giants pinch hitter
Dusty Rhodes hit a three-run home run off
Bob Lemon. Giants 5 Indians 2 (10 innings)

GAME #2 Polo Ground
(Rhodes again)
Dusty Rhodes as a pinch hitter for the Giants
singled in the fifth inning and then hit a home run
in the seventh to win it. The only run by Cleveland
was on the first pitch of the game, a home run
by Al Smith. Giants 3 Indians 1

GAME #3 Municipal Stadium
(Rhodes to the rescue again)
Giants scored one run in the first, then three runs
in the third as Dusty Rhodes came through again
with a pinch hit single with the bases loaded.
Giants pitcher Ruben Gómez, from Arroyo Puerto
Rico who was 17-9 with a 2.88 during the season
pitching 221 2/3 inning during the regular season combined with Hoyt Wilhem for a four hitter.
Giants 6 Indians 2

GAME #4 Municipal Stadium
(It’s over early…)
By the fifth inning the Giants led by 7-0 score.
In front of 78,102 fans at Municipal Stadium
(what later became known as “The Mistake by
the Lake”) Bob Lemon who pitch well in game
one was destroyed. In four innings Lemon gave up
seven hits and six runs (five earned)and it was
basically over. In those days If you had a
7 run lead you won the game.
Giants 7 Indians 4
For the sixth consecutive year the World Series
title remained in New York, but this time it was
the National League team. It continued
in New York in 1955 and 1956.

This weekend Willie Mays will probably be in
attendance at SBC giving a lot of interviews
and remembering that 1954 World Series, the
friends he played with and against, who are
not with us anymore like Cleveland’s Vic Wetz
who died July 7, 1983 in Detroit.

It is not Mays,Rhodes.Dark,Mueller,Irvin,
Thompson,Williams or Westrum, but Tucker,
Feliz,Vizquel,Alfonzo,Matheny and Snow.

It is not Smith,Avila,Doby,Rosen or Lemon,
but Haffner,Martínez,Crisp and CC.Sabathia.

Indians and Giants…In this Galaxy but a long
long time ago these storied franchises once
met in the Fall Classic.


1 Anonymous { 06.09.05 at 1:53 am }


thanks so much for this blast from the past — I am sure you remember the spectacular setting on the Harlem River with the Polo Grounds and Yankee stadium only 7 blocks ( one train stop ) from each other –do you remember how the Polo Grounds used to allow fans to exit the stadium by walking on the field out to the tunnel beneath the players club house in CF? do you remember how a pop fly down the line could be a HR, but hitting into the natural power alleys was an impossible HR? and only a handful of hitters ever made it into the CF bleachers–do you remeeber how most of the fans actually went to games wearing suits?

2 Anonymous { 06.09.05 at 10:14 pm }

You are correct. All we take from this life
is great memories and baseball is the
national passtime.

3 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:13 pm }

4 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:50 pm }

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