1954 Indians flashback: Rosen, Avila and Doby dominate All Star game

Jim Hegan, starting catcher 1954

A rough week prior had the Indians thankful for the All Star break. Unfortunately it wouldn't be a full break for most of them.

After limping to the All Star break with a 4-5 record, the Yankees had crept within half a game and the White Sox by virtue of their four game sweep were now just three games back as well. Normally the All Star break is time for rest and relaxation, but Cleveland was the host city for the first time since 1935. Plus a number of players were on the AL roster.

July 13, 1954 - All Star Game, Cleveland Stadium

July 13: NL 9, AL 11

Bobby Avila was the starting second basemen while Al Rosen also started at first base. Larry Doby, Mike Garcia and Bob Lemon were also on the roster. The game started innocently enough, until Rosen crushed a Robin Roberts pitch for a three run homer in the third. Ray Boone followed with a solo shot, giving the AL a 4-0 lead. Sandy Consuegra could not hold it though as the NL plated five in the fourth. Bob Lemon came on in relief that inning. Avila tied it in the bottom half with a sacrifice fly. The teams traded two run homers in the fifth, Ted Kluszewski for the AL, and Rosen with his second bomb of the game. Avila kept the Indian pride by plating Ted Williams by singling off Warren Spahn in the sixth to take the 8-7 lead. The NL took the lead once again in the eighth on a Gus Bell two run pinch homer. Doby returned the favor, tying the game with his own pinch homer. After Rosen walked to load the bases, Nellie Fox singled to center to give the AL the win.

Although Garcia did not appear in the game and Lemon only pitched two thirds of an inning, the Tribe hitters were ripping the cover off the ball. Avila was 3-3 with a run scored, two RBI and that sac fly. Rosen played the entire game, going 3-4, two runs scored and five RBI on those two home runs. And Doby hit the solo shot in his only at bat.

July 15-17, 1954

July 15: Indians 4, Athletics 0

July 16: Indians 9, Athletics 3

July 17: Indians 6, Athletics 0

The rest of the All Star break appeared to do Early Wynn some good. He came out firing on all cylinders, shutting out the Athletics on three hits and three walks. He even helped his cause with an RBI single while Al Smith doubled in two and Rosen doubled in one as well.

The Friday matchup saw the Indians pound out eighteen hits while scoring eight runs from the fourth to seventh innings. Smith went 4-6 with a double and triple and Dave Philley hit a home run while going 3-5. The surprise contributor was backup infielder Sam Dente, who drove in three with a pair of doubles as Garcia nabbed his twelfth win.

The series finale was even better than the Thursday game as Bob Feller had his best start of the year. He allowed only two baserunners on two singles (and one on a Bill Glynn error). Rosen drove in two on a groundout and double. Jim Hegan had a solo homer and Glynn atoned his error with an RBI single to put the Tribe up 4-0 in the fifth inning.

July 18, 1954

July 18 (game 1): Indians 3, Senators 8

July 18 (game 2): Indians 7, Senators 4

Following the three game sweep, the Indians headed to D.C. for a Sunday doubleheader. In the opener, Art Houtteman didn't get out of the first, surrendering a four spot. Single runs in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth off Dave Hoskins and Bob Hooper extended the lead. A pair of RBIs by Rosen in the first and third and a Doby RBI in the third was all the Tribe offense could muster off Chuck Stobbs.

In the nightcap, Rosen started the game off with an inside the park home run, plating Avila. Lemon would not be able to hold the lead, giving up four in the fourth, ending his day. Don Mossi took over and got the win when Avila doubled in a pair in the seventh. Hal Newhouser pitched the last three innings for the save as Glynn and Hegan tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the eighth on a double and triple respectively.

Player of the Week

Although no MVP was awarded in the All Star Game, Al Rosen easily would have won that honor had the award existed. Following that awesome performance, he completed the week hitting 350/391/650 with three doubles, that inside the park home run and nine RBI.

Player Spotlight

Catcher Jim Hegan

Signed as an amateur free agent in 1938, Hegan made his debut in 1941 at the age of 20. He missed 1943 to 1945 to serve in World War II. He became the full time starter in 1947 and nabbed his first of five All Star nods, sticking around through the 1957 season. In his 14 seasons, he ended up catching 1491 games for the Indians, while hitting 230/299/349 (76 OPS+). But his forte was defense, which ended up getting him two Top 25 MVP finishes. In 1954, he was the same steady Hegan, 234/289/374 79 OPS+ and finished with 11 home runs, second most in his career.

Summary

The 4-1 record allowed the Indians to stay just in front of the Yankees, but they did manage to pick up a game on the White Sox. Next week, the finale in Washington and visits to Fenway and Yankee Stadium were on tap.

Standings

W

L

Pct

GB

RS

RA

Pythag

Cleveland Indians

60

28

682

-

423

309

640

New York Yankees

60

29

674

0.5

471

331

656

Chicago White Sox

57

33

633

4.0

437

303

662

Detroit Tigers

37

48

435

21.5

315

355

446

Washington Senators

35

49

417

23.0

355

382

467

Boston Red Sox

35

50

412

23.5

365

418

438

Baltimore Orioles

32

55

368

27.5

274

375

360

Philadelphia Athletics

30

54

357

28.0

309

476

312

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