Photograph © Robert K. Shoop
So after the 1932 and 1933 seasons, we will pick up again during the 1940 season… a season which saw Bob Feller pitch to an incredible 27-11 record with a 2.61 ERA. Many believe that it was this season that guaranteed Feller a nod into the Hall of Fame in 1962. The hitting meanwhile was also strong with Hal Trosky batting .295 with 39 2B, 25 HR and 93 RBI. Future Hall of Famer and SS Lou Boudreau was the RBI man with 46 2B, 10 3B, 9 HR and 101 Runs Batted In. The Indians surged to a 89-65 (.578) record which was good enough for 2nd place. Fans began to turn out to Municipal Stadium finally as 902,000 fans came to the ballpark in 1946. The Indians came back down to earth in 1941 going 75-79 (.487) despite another fabulous season by Bob Feller (25-13, 3.15). Unfortunately after Feller, there wasn’t much else as Al Milnar (12-19, 4.36) would take over the all-time loss record at Municipal Stadium. At the Plate, Jeff Heath came the closest to overtaking Earl Averill’s RBI record by hitting 123... falling just one shy, but he would take over the batting title hitting .340 with 32 2B, another club record 20 3B and 24 HR. Lou Boudreau meanwhile hit 45 2B (one shy of his record) and 10 HR (.257) and Ken Keltner added some power with 31 2B, 13 3B, 23 HR and a .269 avg. Attendance fell to 745k. As the war began to pick up speed in 1942, the Indians quickly began losing their best players, including future Hall of Famer Bob Feller. Jim Bagby became the frontline starter in his absence and was very good posting a 17-9 (2.96) record. Every other pitcher however had a losing record, and no hitter would hit over .300 nor display any power. Things in fact, became rather lean during these war years. Jeff Heath was still a part of the batting order in 1943 batting .274 with 22 2B and 18 HR. On the mound, Al Smith (17-7, 2.55) joined Jim Bagby (17-14, 3.10) as the Indians featured two 17 game winners. Smith’s ERA also overtook Bob Feller for the ERA title at Municipal Stadium. The Indians finished in 3rd with an 82-71 record, only to have that record swapped the following season as they 1944 team finished 72-82. HOF Lou Boudreau took over as the best player on the team posting 45 2B (again just missing his all-time record of 46) along with a stellar .327 batting average. Ken Keltner had the best slugging pct. (.466) with 41 2B, 9 3B, 14 HR and a .295 avg. Al Smith however wasn’t sharp (7-13) and even though Steve Gromek posted a 2.56 ERA, he would only go 10-9 on the season.