After 21 Years, Oaks Are Champions!


The stories below, from the Oakland Post Enquirer of Monday, September 27, 1948, not only capture the thrill of the pennant victory, but contain the most vivid first hand account of the excitement in the locker room and in the front office following the game.


Sports Ray. . . .

FINISH WITH 2-GAME LEAD

Acorns Win 10-8, 6-5 While Seals Nab 2; Banquet Set

By Ray Schwartz

After 21 years

The people of Oakland, who rarely know such pleasures, today went into wild, gusty celebrating over their 1948 Pacific Coast League pennant club.

Everywhere were feverish hand-clasps, smart slaps across each other's backs, hoarse shouting. . . and the common delight of realizing that "We did it!"

Downtown streets took on a carnival air, while official quarters began to outline more formal tributes to Manager Casey Stengel and his Oakland players, once derided as "grand old men."

It all became official at 4:06 p.m. yesterday. Relief Pitcher Jim Tobin himself, stepped across first base for the final out that brought Oakland a harum-sacrum 10-8 win over Sacramento before 12,386 fidgety fans in Emeryville.

Since Oak rookies also took the eight inning afterpiece, 6-5, the pennant margin rested at two games. The desperate San Francisco club, which Lefty O'Doul predicted would win by "at least" seven games, closed the season with tow victories over Seattle.

This intense, dramatic duel with the rival Seals is something to remember. And citizens also intend that the players will know Oakland's sincere gratitude before they complete the Governor's Cup playoffs and scatter for home.

City Plans Huge Banquet

From Mayor Joseph Smith's office comes word that the city will stage a tremendous public banquet next Tuesday, Oct 5, at the Hotel Leamington. Plans call for a gala parade through downtown streets, then the dinner, which will be open to the public.

Tickets go on sale at the Oakland ball park tomorrow when Club President Brick Laws and his associate, Joe Blumenfeld, will make their own salute to the team. Gifts are to be presented at home plate before the regulars meet Oakland's leading farm club players in a special exhibition game.

Starting time for the exhibition will be the regular 8:15 o'clock.

Perhaps fans were more confident than the players, for the official first game win yesterday did not instigate any disorderly conduct. Instead of trying to rush on the field, eeople stood up and gave a short, though heartfelt cheer, while the Oakland players crowded around Tobin.

They picked the right man. It was Tobin, serving as fourth Acorn pitcher, who finally put the squelch on a scrapping, unyielding Sacramento outfit. He stepped in after the Oaks had finally thrashed to a 10-8 lead, then threw one hit ball for the three innings he operated.

There was more of an uproar in the clubhouse a couple of minutes later.

It's a Wild Scene in Oak Clubrooms

Raimondi One of Happiest Acorns

By Stan Speer

Excitement, smiles of victory and back slaps that was the scene yesterday as the Oakland ball players streamed into their dressing room after beating Sacramento, 10-8 in the first game of a double header to win their first Coast League pennant since 1927.

Probably the happiest of the lot was Billy Raimondi, the injured catcher.

"I've waited 17 years to be on a pennant winner and it sure has been great to have played with such a great bunce of guys," yelled Billy, the McClymonds High product.

METKOVICH "A KID"

First player into the showers was Outfielder George Metkovich. The big fellow was happy as a kid with a new pair of roller skates. He departed shortly later for Los Angeles to see his family.

Jim Tobin broke in to say:

"This is my greatest thrill as a minor league player and reminds me of the 1945 campaign when I joined Detroit in the last eight weeks of the season and helped the Tigers annex the American League pennant."

VAN A BRAVE GUY

Floyd Speer, Charley Gassaway and Ralph Buxton practically knocked themselves out in prancing around the dressing quarters congratulating their fellow players. Meanwhile, Maurice Van Robays showed courage by shaving with an open razor amid the noise and confusion.

"We had the pennant in the sack all the way," chuckled Speer, "and we really gave the fans a show even if it did take until the final day to capture the flag."

Van Robays stopped shaving at this point and Speer took a hasty exit into the rubbing room to give Red Adams, the Acorn trainer since 1939, a hefty handshake.

Ernie Lombardi, Gene Lillard, Eddie Fernandes, Les Scarsella and Mel Duezabou practically broke down the door bouncing into the room after dodging a flood of autograph seekers. Merrill Combs, Dario Lodigiani, Earl Jones and Billy Martin just didn't know what to say but took a big hand in the celebration.

Loyd Christopher enjoyed the victory gathering by calmly eating an ice cream bar and bemoaning the fact that Tobin broke his favorite bat in the ninth inning. Les Webber and Aldon Wilkie chuckled in glee as Christopher retold his sad story.

Jack Salveson, who twirled Saturday's 2-1 victory, and Lou Tost could hardly believe that the pressure was off and the Oaks were in the chips for the first time in 21 years.

Cookie Lavagetto had an autographed ball removed from his coat by a fan as he left the dressing room.

"It's great to win a pennant when the opposing club is bearing down on you and refusing to give you any quarter just as Sacramento did all week," expressed Nick Etten, one-time Yankee first sacker.

Last but not least, Manager Casey Stengel thanked the players for their fine efforts and praised them as being the best mannered, most hustling and best behaved club he has ever managed.

Players Are Pummeled and Squeezed

Every Oak was pummeled, squeezed and mauled in the dressing room as reporters, cameramen and well wishers streamed in. Players jockeyed one another with facetious remarks, others couldn't stop cheering and still others just sat down to figure out the whole thing.

"After all, I'm an Oakland native myself," shouted Tobin above the shower noise. "Winning this pennant means as much to me as anyone else in town."

Billy Raimondi, who missed the last week because of a broken wrist, smiled at that one. He has waited 17 years with Oakland for his first pennant. There were other Eastbay residents who had rooted for the club long before they ever got into pro ball. Men like Cookie Lavagetto, Loyd Christopher, Brooks Holder, Les Scarsella, Billy MartinŻand Ernie (Botch) Lombardi, who was a rookie catcher with the last Oakland championship club in 1927.

"I hope they all feel as good as I do," Raimondi mused.

While Stengel likes to appear tough about such things, he couldn't keep the happiness out of his eyes. He covered up by sternly looking around for rookies to spot in the second game, but let down a bit when photographers asked him to do a victory jig for them.

This Is Casey's Third Flag

After all, it was only Stengel's third flag as a manager. He led Toledo to the American Association and junior world series title in 1927, then waited until 1944 before succeeding at Milwaukee. He was asked to pose with Pitchers Floyd Speer and Charlie Gassaway, who also had been on that Milwaukee club.

"Lots of people wanted me to get rid of these boys earlier this season," said Stengel, affectionately putting his arms around each one's shoulders. "I didn't though. These are fellows who do a job for you."

Perhaps the most touching expression was upstairs, in the front offices, when Laws shook hadds with Cookie Devincenzi, now Sacramento general manager. Devvy owned the Oaks and suffered with them during the depression years. He helped Stengel and Laws assemble the present team before resigning his position last spring.

The entire affair was so pleasing to Devincenzi that he whipped up a special spaghetti feed as an impromptu celebration. Mrs. Stengel, who, with other wives, had spent many night hours in the Oaks "waiting room," was exhausted from the ordeal.

"I didn't sleep all Saturday night," she related. "What kept me awake was wondering if I shouldn't be sleeping over at Mrs.. Devincenzi's house. Last time I did, we went on a long winning streak.

"Finally I comforted myself by saying we couldn't go on a long winning streak now, anyway. Not for the regular season."

Lead Changes Six Times

Despite all the superstitions and even though writers "hexed" them with premature words of a pennant in sight, the Oaks offset those with 16 hits in the clinching game. What made it nerve- wracking is that Sacramento responded with 13 hits, the lead changing six times.

After Sacramento had started on Earl Jones for a 1-0 lead, Jones returned in the second with a single to score Brooks Holder. He gave that right back, though, when Jim Warner homered in the second.

The big Oaks putsch was for four runs in the third. Merrill Combs led off with one of his four singles, Cookie Lavagetto doubled and Nick Etten's two-bagger to right drove both across. Les Scarsella was hit by pitcher, then Shortstop Lenny Ratto fouled up Brooksie Holder's roller to fill the bases. One run came home on Dario Lodigiani's fly ball; another via Lombardi's single. That lead was enhanced in the fifth when Loyd Christopher lofted a 365-foot homer into left center, his fourteenth of the year.

Jones' passion for the home run pitch got him ousted in the third. He had fed one to Reliefer Edgar Smith with none out, so the three-run blast by Joe Marty in the fifth off Hummingbird Speer helped give the Sacs a 7-6 advantage.

In came Buxton, who was spotted to a new lead in the sixth. Combs and Lavagetto repeated on their single-double sequence, for one run, with Lavagetto coming home as Duezabou grounded out. It still wasn't enough, since Buxton yielded a score in Sacramento's sixth to resolve an 8-8 tie.

Etten Ends With 156 RBI's

Came the seventh and Buxton, of all individuals, started things with a soft single to right. Rookie Eddie Samcoff ran for him and advanced on another Combs single. The combination of Georgie Metkovich's infield hit and Ratto's wild throw got Samcoff home, while Combs scored on Etten's single. That left Etten with an imposing final RBI total of 156.

Though it was Buxton's win, Tobin was the deciding factor. He allowed a scratch single in the three innings he worked. And with two down in the ninth, when Alex Kampouris bounced one to the pitcher's box, old Tobin out-raced Kampouris to first base, securing the flag.

Just one more postscript you'll all agree on:

Please come back next year, Casey.

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Page created by William B. Shubb, 1997. Article courtesy of the Oakland Post Enquirer.