By Jordan Miller
The Drive, The Shot, The Move, The Fumble, The Decision, The Catch. These are a few of many heartbreaks Cleveland sports have suffered throughout their time.
One Carrollton man has lived through Cleveland sports heartache for 93 years, but has also lived through their championship runs.
Carl Miller, a 1941 graduate of Carrollton High School and a World War II veteran, is a die-hard and loyal Cleveland sports fan, cheering on Cleveland sports teams since he was a child in the 1930s.
The Cleveland Indians (The Tribe) hasn’t won the World Series since 1948, nearly seven decades (68 years) ago.
Home just three years after serving his country in World War II, Miller had the opportunity to watch the Indians in the World Series.
Miller, along with 88,287 other baseball fans, crowded in the stadium at Cleveland to watch a game of the ’48 World Series.
“I had planned on going to the World Series once I found out they were going,” said Miller about the 1948 World Series run.
“I worked with this man, Rich Mutigli, in Waynesburg. I said to him ‘if you want to go I’ll pick you up at 3 o’clock in the morning’,” Miller said. “We got to the field at five o’clock in the morning and stood in line from 5-10 a.m. for a pair of tickets.”
The Indians had a 3-1 series lead over the Boston Braves entering game five of the series.
In game five, Boston took a 4-1 lead before the Indians rallied from behind in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Cleveland second baseman Joe Gordon led off the inning with a single to left field and third baseman Ken Keltner drew a walk to follow.
With two on and no outs, right fielder Wally Judnich singled to centerfield, scoring Gordon and advancing Keltner to third.
First baseman Eddie Robinson hit a pop-fly Boston’s shortstop Al Dark caught for the first out.
Cleveland catcher Jim Hegan stepped up to the plate and cleared the bases with a three-run homer to deep left field, giving the Tribe a 5-4 lead in the fourth.
The Braves tied the game at five with a run in the top of the sixth inning and put the nail in the coffin in the top of the seventh, scoring six runs.
The Indians fell to Boston 11-5.
Cleveland went on to clinch the World Series in game six with a 4-3 victory over Boston at Braves Field Oct. 11, 1948.
Miller had an opportunity to attend another World Series game in 1997.
“My son (Alan Miller) took me to the World Series in 1997 at Jacob’s Field,” Miller said.
Miller said the 1948 World Series had the “better atmosphere” than the ’97 crowd, in his opinion.
“The crowd was so excited and they had won so many games, they had a great pitching staff,” said Miller. “The whole state of Ohio was just thrilled that they were in the World Series.”
The first major league baseball game Miller attended was as a 17-year-old July 17, 1941, when the Indians hosted Joe DiMaggio and the New York Yankees.
DiMaggio entered the game riding a 56-game hitting streak, which began May 15, 1941.
The Indians held DiMaggio without a hit and snapped the streak.
The Cleveland Indians first baseman that game was Oscar Ray Grimes Jr., a graduate of Minerva High School.
The Yankees won the contest 4-3.
When asked if he had a favorite Indians memory, Miller said two stuck out in his mind.
He said his favorite moment was either the night game when Satchel Paige beat the White Sox 1-0 or the double-header when the Tribe beat the Yankees in 1948.
“I stood up for a double-header to watch the Indians beat the Yankees in 1948 behind the fence,” Miller said. “At that time they had a fence, so when the crowd got full and the seats filled up, then people could stand up behind the field.”
Miller recalled the exact number of people in attendance: 84,288.
“I stood up for the whole double-header behind the fence,” Miller said again.
“I listened to the Indians all the time when I was younger, carrying a portable radio around,” Miller said. “I remember listening to them in the wee hours of the morning when Rocky Colavito hit four homeruns in a game against Baltimore one time. I remember that real distinctly.”
Miller recalled another baseball memory that had nothing to do with the Indians, but everything to do with baseball history.
On April 8, 1974, he took a road-trip to Atlanta, GA, for the season opener when the Atlanta Braves hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers. Miller’s reason for traveling had nothing to do with either team, but everything to do with Hank Aaron.
Aaron was on the verge of passing the legendary Babe Ruth to become the all-time homerun leader in Major League Baseball. Aaron delivered in the bottom of the fourth inning, hitting his 715th homerun off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing at 9:07 p.m. making Miller’s 700-mile trip worth it.
His love of Cleveland sports doesn’t end with the Indians.
Miller was in attendance Dec. 24, 1950, when the Cleveland Browns took on the Los Angeles Rams in Cleveland for the NFL championship.
“I was there when Lou Groza kicked a field goal to beat the Los Angeles Rams,” Miller said. “It was a championship game and the offense was so thrilled and so certain he (Groza) was going to make it, they were jumping up and down as they were running off the field on fourth down.”
“I saw an exciting game the Browns played against the New York Giants,” Miller mentioned. “The Giants had the ball down at the one-yard line, first-and-goal, and they couldn’t score. Cleveland won 6-0.”
“I’ve seen a lot of historic events,” Miller said.
June 19, 2016 was another historic day for Miller and all Cleveland sports fans.
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship four games to three after trailing the Golden State Warriors 3-1 in the finals series.
“Wouldn’t that be something, if both teams (Cavaliers and Indians) won a championship for the city in the same year?” asked Miller with a smile on his face.
Miller has been fortunate to see the new “The” series: The Block, The Shot II, The Big 3, The Comeback, The End.
Miller lived a life before the Cleveland “curse”, during the curse and after the curse. He said he hopes his grandchildren and great-grandchildren get to experience a Tribe championship.
Miller currently resides in Carrollton with his wife, Velma.