THE BEST SEASON IN BOSTON'S BASEBALL HISTORY

FRANKIE GUSTINE

BOSTON BRAVES ...
SPAHN & SAIN and PRAY FOR RAIN ...

The Braves fall in the 9th inning to a walk-off HR

June 5, 1948 ... Manager Billy Southworth took a wild gamble and lost, as the Braves blew an 8 to 7 game to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Frankie Gustine's ninth-inning walk-off home run with one man aboard.

Southworth replaced a staggering Warren Spahn with Vern Bickford. Spahn had thrown two home run balls to Wally Westlake accounting for five runs. The Braves had twice come from behind and held a 7 to 5 lead in the sixth inning. The Pirates picked up their sixth run in the seventh.

When Spahn was due to bat in the eighth inning, Southworth inserted Frank McCormick to hit for him. He then brought in Bickford to start in the Pirates eighth inning. Bickford managed to escape in the eighth, although Pittsburgh had loaded the bases on a hit and two walks.

Bickford came within one out of holding the one run lead in the ninth. He got two tough pinch hitters out easily. Dixie Walker fouled out and Max West was called out on strikes. At that point the fans started to leave the Park.

Johnny Hopp got things going when he rifled a single to right. The first pitch to Gustine was a ball and he fouled off the next one into the left-field bleachers. Bickford through another ball in the middle of the plate and it went for a high ride, hitting the top corner of the scoreboard in left field for a home run and the ballgame.

Spahn was wild at the beginning. He walked Stan Rojek and Ralph Kiner in the first inning. Westlake hit a 2-2 pitch on the nose and it sailed over the red brick wall behind the visitors bullpen for a three run homer, giving the Pirates a 3 to 0 lead.

The Braves captured two of the runs in the second on walks to Jeff Heath and Jim Russell by Fritz Ostermueller. Bob Sturgeon then walked to fill the bases. Mike McCormick doubled down the left-field line to put Sturgeon at third and make the score 3 to 2. Earl Torgeson raced out a grounder to score Sturgeon and tie up the game. Bob Elliott Bay line drive single to right-center that brought across McCormick and put Torgeson on third.

It was 5 to 3, but the lead didn't last long. In Pittsburgh's half of the third inning, Hopp beat out a bunt to put the runner on first. Kiner forced him at second and that brought up Westlake who smacked another one into the garden in left field.

The 5-5 tie was dissolved in the sixth inning on a couple of unearned runs. Phil Masi singled to right and Stan Rojek through Sibbi Sisti's grounder into right field trying for the double-play. Masi went to third and Sturgeon came through with a clean shot to score two runs, putting the Braves up 7 to 5. The lead lasted until the bottom of the ninth-inning.

 

at Forbes Field (Pittsburgh) ...

R

H

E

BOSTON BRAVES

0

2

3

0

0

2

0

0

0

 

7

11

0

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

3

0

2

0

0

0

1

0

2

 

8

9

1

W-Vic Lombardi (3-3)
L-Vern Bickford (2-2)
Attendance 11,397

2B-Torgeson (Bost), McCormick (Bost), Murtaugh (Pitts)
HR-Russell (Bost), Westlake (2)(Pitts)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AB

R

H

AVG

 

 

Bobby Sturgeon 2b 4 1 1 .250  

 

Mike McCormick rf 5 1 1 .214  

 

Earl Torgeson 1b 5 1 2 .286  

 

Bob Elliott 3b 5 0 1 .273  

 

Jeff Heath lf 4 1 1 .311  

 

Jim Russell cf 4 1 2 .260  

 

Phil Masi c 4 1 3 .205  

 

Sibby Sisti ss 4 1 0 .103  

 

Warren Spahn p 3 0 0 .130  

 

Frank McCormick ph 0 0 0 .235  

 

Clint Conaster pr 0 0 0 .136  

 

Vern Bickford p 0 0 0 .143  
               
    IP H ER BB SO  
  Warren Spahn 7 6 3 3 2  
  Vern Bickford 1.2 3 2 2 1  

 

 

         

 

 

 

1948 NATIONAL LEAGUE STANDINGS

 

 

New York Giants 22 16 -

 

 

St. Louis Cardinals 22 17 1/2

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates 22 18 1

 

 

Philadelphia Phillies 23 20 1 1/2

 

 

BOSTON BRAVES

19 19 3

 

 

Cincinnati Reds 20 23 4 1/2

 

 

Brooklyn Dodgers 18 22 5

 

 

Chicago Cubs 15 26 8 1/2