It was in the first game of the 1948 World Series held at Boston Braves Field against the favored Cleveland Indians that Phil Masi would become embroiled in a controversy that secured his place in baseball history.
The Braves’ Johnny Sain and Indians’ Bob Feller were engaged in a scoreless pitchers’ duel when the Braves came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning. Feller walked Braves catcher Bill Salkeld to open the inning. Braves manager Billy Southworth then substituted the slow-footed Salkeld with Masi, who entered the game as a pinch runner. Now today, a catcher probably wouldn’t be your choice for a pinch runner. Mike McCormick followed with a sacrifice bunt, advancing Masi to second base.
Feller issued an intentional walk to Eddie Stanky, who was replaced by Sibby Sisti. Feller then made a pick off attempt of Masi at second base. Indians’ shortstop Lou Boudreau appeared to tag Masi out, but umpire Bill Stewart called him safe.
Tommy Holmes followed with a single that scored Masi with the only run of the game, giving the Braves a 1-0 victory. The umpire’s controversial ruling touched off heated debates among the media and fans, especially after Associated Press photographs of the play were published.
Although the victory gave the Braves a 1-0 lead, the Indians won the World Series in six games.