Ted Williams (TRADING CARD DB)

May 22, 1946: Ted Williams homers in the 12th inning to give Red Sox a win

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

Ted Williams (TRADING CARD DB)The Joe Cronin-managed Boston Red Sox held a six-game lead in the American League standings, with the New York Yankees in second place, and were 12 games ahead of the Cleveland Indians, whom they visited on May 22. It was a Wednesday afternoon at League Park.

Indians player-manager Lou Boudreau started Mel Harder, a right-handed veteran with more than 200 career wins in 19 seasons with Cleveland. Harder — at age 36 Boudreau’s senior by eight years — saw his team take a 3-0 lead with one run in the first inning and two more in the bottom of the fifth.

Mickey Harris (7-0) was pitching for the Red Sox. In his capacity as Cleveland’s shortstop, Boudreau doubled off the right-field wall to lead off the bottom of the first. An out advanced him to third base. He scored on a “topped roller single down the third-base line” by left fielder Buster Mills.1

Harder allowed a single to first baseman Rudy York in the second. Harris allowed a double to center fielder Felix Mackiewicz in the bottom of the inning.

The only one from either team to reach base in the third was Boudreau, who walked.

In the fourth, Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky singled but Ted Williams followed that with a 4-6-3 double play grounder. Harris retired the Indians in order in their half.

Harder walked two Red Sox in the fifth but nothing came of it and they were both left on base.

In the bottom of the fifth, Mackiewicz hit a one-out triple off the right-field wall. He scored when the next batter, Harder himself, singled for a 2-0 Cleveland lead. Boudreau grounded out, and Harder got to second base. He scored when Indians first baseman Mickey Rocco singled to center. It was now 3-0.

Neither team got a man on base in the sixth.

Harder had given up only two base hits over the first six innings, but the Red Sox got three hits to start the seventh — a leadoff single by Bobby Doerr, a double off the right-field wall by York, and a single to center by right fielder Johnny Lazor that drove in both Doerr and York. Lazor’s hit, in his first start of 1946, pulled Boston to within 3-2.

Third baseman Rip Russell laid down a sacrifice to send Lazor to second and reached first safely on a fielder’s choice. Catcher Hal Wagner followed with a sacrifice that advanced both baserunners. Pinky Higgins pinch-hit for Harris, but the runners were unable to advance on his groundout. Center fielder George Metkovich flied out; the Indians maintained their one-run lead.

Clem Dreisewerd was the new pitcher for the Red Sox. He retired the Indians in order in the seventh and the eighth.

Doerr hit a two-out triple in the top of the eighth but did not score. It remained 3-2, Cleveland, until Lazor homered leading off the ninth inning, a ball hit down the right-field line, just fair. That tied the score. 

In the bottom of the ninth, Cleveland third baseman Ken Keltner doubled with two outs. Catcher Frankie Hayes walked to put two runners on, but Dreisewerd got out of trouble. The game went into extra innings.

Harder retired the three Red Sox he faced in the 10th — Metkovich and Pesky flied out and Williams grounded out. With one out in the bottom of the 10th, Dreisewerd walked Boudreau. He was sacrificed to second, but Mills struck out for the third out.

In the 11th, Doerr led off with a triple. York grounded out; Doerr remained at third. Lazor walked. Russell singled off Harder’s pitching hand, driving in Doerr for a 4-3 Red Sox lead.

Harder left to have x-rays taken and Vic Johnson relieved him. Johnson walked Hal Wagner, loading the bases. Batting for himself, Dreisewerd struck out. Metkovich hit a fly-ball out.

The Red Sox were three outs from a win, but the Indians scored, too. Right fielder Pat Seerey had been 0-for-4 but singled to lead off. Blas Monaco pinch-ran and got to second on a groundout.

Boo Ferriss relieved Dreisewerd, and the first batter he faced, Keltner, singled in Monaco and the score was tied again. There followed a sacrifice, and then two pinch-hitters, with a walk and then an inning-ending groundout. The game went to the 12th inning, 4-4.

Pete Center was the new pitcher for the Indians. First up for Boston was Pesky. He singled to left field for his second hit of the game. That brought up Williams, who had a very frustrating day at the plate so far. He’d grounded out, grounded into a double play, flied out to the infield, flied out once more to the infield, and grounded out. In his first five at-bats, the Cleveland Plain Dealer noted, Williams “hadn’t even been able to get the ball out of the infield.”2

Center “threw two pitches very close to The Kid’s skull. Williams was raving mad. He stepped closer to the plate and took a tighter grip on his bat. Then Center tried to throw one by Williams. The Kid got a good cut at it and propelled it a good 400 feet off the roof of a house in back of the high fence in right-center.”3 The Boston Herald said it cleared the wall in right-center and the screen on top of the wall, and “landed in a vacant lot on the other side of Lexington Avenue.”4 The Globe simply said it “sailed over the right center field fence.”5 Wherever it landed, it still served to win the game. Boston led again, 6-4.

The inning wasn’t over yet. Doerr doubled, a ball that might have been a single except that a boy ran out from the stands and touched it.6 Rudy York flied out, but Lazor singled to right field and Doerr scored, making it 7-4, Red Sox. There followed a groundout, a walk, and a fly-ball out.

It was up to Ferriss to close it out, but Boudreau led off with a single, and Rocco walked on four pitches. The tying run came to the plate.

Cronin turned to starting pitcher Tex Hughson, who relieved Ferriss. Pinch-hitter Les Fleming grounded out, and both baserunners moved up. But one run, or even two, wasn’t going to be enough. Bob Lemon became the fourth pinch-hitter of the game for the Indians, batting for Center. He struck out.

The Indians were down to their final batter, second baseman Dutch Meyer, unless he could get a hit and keep the inning alive. He was 0-for-5 so far (just as Ted Williams had been), but Meyer grounded out to end the game.

Ferriss got the win, improving his record to 6-0.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org.





1 Burt Whitman, “Ted Homers in 12th, Sox Top Indians, 7-4,” Boston Herald, May 23, 1946: 15.

2 Alex Zirin, “Williams’ 2-Run Homer in 12th Beats Tribe, 7-4; Harder Is Injured,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 23, 1946: 18.

3 Hy Hurwitz, “Williams Belts Homer in 12th, Sox Win, 7-4,” Boston Globe, May 23, 1946: 1, 10.

4 Whitman: 15.

5 Hurwitz.

6 Whitman: 15.

Additional Stats

Boston Red Sox 7
Cleveland Indians 
12 innings

League Park
Cleveland, OH 


Box Score + PBP:

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1940s ·