THE BEST SEASON IN BOSTON'S BASEBALL HISTORY

JEFF HEATH

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

Jeff Heath helps the Braves
gain an 8 1/2 game lead

July 18, 1948 ... With Nelson Potter and Vern Bickford pitching superbly, and Jeff Heath, Alvin Dark and Bob Elliott slamming home runs, the Braves captured one of their most important doubleheaders of the season, as they battered the Pirates, 10 to 2 and 3 to 1. The Braves thus zoomed into an eight game lead in the National League pennant race. They dumped the Pirates into fourth place, 8 1/2 games behind and gained a full game on both the Cardinals and the Dodgers, who split a doubleheader in St. Louis.

Potter's first National League start was a brilliant seven hitter, which landed him in the win column for the first time. He started his major league career with the Cardinals back in 1936 and pitched one perfect inning until he was released to Columbus. He didn't pitch again in the major leagues until the Braves signed him as a free agent three weeks ago.

Before he even threw a pitch, Potter was presented with a five-run lead. Four of the runs were result of Heatth's grand slam homer. That helped the Braves chase Elmer Riddle, the Pirates starter, from the box before he had retired a batter.

While Heath's terrific blast into the visiting bullpen in left-center, made it easier for Potter, Bickford had to struggle to land his sixth win of the year in the second game. He was locked in a brilliant scoreless battle with Tiny Bonham first six innings before the Braves put them ahead on Earl Torgeson's double and Phil Masi's single in the seventh inning.

In fact, Bonham and pitched no-hit ball over the first six innings, until Torgeson opened the seventh with a two base hit into right-center. Dark's third home run of the year into the Greenberg Gardens furnished the winning run, and Bob Elliott's 11th home run to the same spot, did Bickford some insurance. He needed it, because Ralph Kiner slammed his 100th National League home run and 26th of the year to open the ninth for Pittsburgh. Bickford then walked Frankie Gustine but squared himself away to rub out the next three batters to end the game.

Tommy Holmes opened the afternoon with a triple to right-center and scored on Dark's single in the first game. A single by Torgeson and a pass to Elliott loaded the bases for Heath. Jeff took a slow pitch for a long ride into the extreme corner of the visiting bullpen, near the centerfield light tower, giving the Braves a 5 to 0 lead in the first inning.

In the fifth inning, Elliott walked and scored on Heath's double off the right-center field wall. Two walks filled the bases and then Potter doubled down the right-field line to score two runs. That gave the Braves an 8 to 0 lead.

For four innings, Potter had pitched a perfect game. Kiner spoiled it in the fifth with a single to left and took third on Wally Westlake's double. Danny Murtaugh's single accounted for the only run that Potter would give up. Not only did Potter collect his first National League triumph, but he made his first hit in the league in his opening turn at bat. The Braves concluded their scoring in the first game against Elmer Singleton in the ninth. Heath and Mike McCormick both singled and a wild pitch advanced them, scoring on Connie Ryan's single to left.

Bickford have to pitch himself out of some tough spots, as Dixie Walker tripled to open the fourth and was stranded at third. Clyde Kluttz opened the fifth with a double but died on second base. In the sixth, Wally Westlake singled and was sacrificed to second, but Gustine obliged by hitting into a doubleplay.

The Sen-Cuz Sports Club of Buffalo honored Warren Spahn and Sibbi Sisti for the Braves and Stan Rojek for the Pirates by giving them wristwatches. Spahn's present was given to him by his mother, who flew down for the occasion. Spahn excepted Sisti's present, as he isn't with the club and will rejoin the team in Cincinnati.

This was the Braves eighth doubleheader and they have won three, lost three, split one, and also played one where a game was played to a tie. Vern Bickford picked up his sixth win against two losses, but has finished every game that he has won.

 

at Forbes Field (Pittsburgh) ...

R

H

E

BOSTON BRAVES

5

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

2

 

10

13

1

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

 

2

7

0

W-Nels Potter (4-3)
L-Elmer Riddle (9-6)
Attendance 34,116


2B-Heath (Bost), Potter (Bost), Westlake (Pitt), Hopp (Pitt)
3B-Holmes (Bost)
HR-Heath (Bost)
 

 

Game #2 ...

R

H

E

BOSTON BRAVES

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

1

 

3

5

0

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

 

1

7

1

W-Vern Bickford (6-2)
L-Tiny Bonham (3-6)


2B-Torgeson (Bost), Kluttz (Pitt)
3B-Walker (Piutt)
HR-Dark (Bost), Elliott (Bost), Kiner (Pitt)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GAME #1

 

AB

R

H

AVG

 

 

Tommy Holmes rf 6 1 1 .325  

 

Alvin Dark ss 5 1 1 .323  

 

Earl Torgeson 1b 4 1 1 .265  

 

Bob Elliott 3b 2 2 0 .276  

 

Jeff Heath lf 5 3 4 .319  

 

Jim Russell cf 1 0 1 .272  

 

Mike McCormick cf 4 1 1 .303  

 

Phil Masi c 3 1 0 .241  

 

Connie Ryan 2b 3 0 1 .217  

 

Nels Potter p 3 0 3 .429  
               
    IP H ER BB SO  
  Nels Potter 9 7 2 1 4  

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GAME #2

 

AB

R

H

AVG

 

 

Tommy Holmes rf 5 0 0 .320  

 

Alvin Dark ss 4 1 1 .322  

 

Earl Torgeson 1b 4 1 1 .265  

 

Bob Elliott 3b 2 1 1 .278  

 

Jeff Heath lf 4 0 0 .313  

 

Jim Russell cf 4 0 1 .272  

 

Phil Masi c 4 0 1 .241  

 

Connie Ryan 2b 3 0 0 .208  

 

Vern Bickford p 3 0 0 .160  
               
    IP H ER BB SO  
  Vern Bickford 9 7 1 2 3  

 

 

         

 

 

 

1948 NATIONAL LEAGUE STANDINGS

 

 

BOSTON BRAVES

50 32 -

 

 

St. Louis Cardinals 41 39 8

 

 

Brooklyn Dodgers 40 38 8

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates 40 39 8 1/2

 

 

New York Giants 39 39 9

 

 

Philadelphia Phillies 39 44 11 1/2

 

 

Cincinnati Reds 38 45 12 1/2

 

 

Chicago Cubs 35 46 14 1/2