With their victory in the ALCS over the Toronto Blue Jays, the Cleveland Indians are in the World Series for the first time since 1997. A victory in the Fall Classic would be Cleveland’s first World Series title since 1948.

That’s quite the drought and it begs a question. What was going on in the world in 1948?

Whether in sports, politics or some other part of the global stage, these were 10 of the most-notable events of 1948.

“Dewey Defeats Truman”…or not

Like both of their potential World Series opponents, the Indians last won a World Series in a Presidential Election year.

With a divided party and dwindling popularity, Democratic incumbent Harry Truman seemed quite vulnerable. So vulnerable, in fact, that The Chicago Tribune printed a now infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline on election day for publication in the following day’s paper.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

In the electoral college, the incumbent received 303 votes, the Republican challenger won 189, while Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond claimed 39. A few close states swayed the election Truman’s way.

Regardless of anyone’s political persuasion, let The Chicago Tribune’s lesson from 1948 serve as a reminder to as all. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

Truman signs the Marshall Plan

World War II ended in 1945. Three years later, much of the world — particularly Europe — still needed to be rebuilt.

To aid in that, the United States issued $12 billion in support to the countries that needed help. The Soviet Union declined any money, and wouldn’t allow any Eastern Bloc nations under it’s control to receive money, either.

Aid was distributed around Europe, with the United Kingdom and France receiving the most aid.

Citation wins Triple Crown of horse racing

For the second time in three years and the fourth time in the 1940s, a horse won the Triple Crown, claiming The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in the same year.

After cruising to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, the great thoroughbred tied a track record, winning The Belmont Stakes in 2.28 1/2 seconds.

After Citation, the Triple Crown went unclaimed for 25 years, when Secretariat finally broke through in 1973. After Seattle Slew and Affirmed won in 1977 and 1978, it would be 37 years before another horse — American Pharoah — would win another.

Return of the Olympics

Because of World War II, the Winter and Summer Olympics were both cancelled in 1940 and 1944. In 1948, the Olympics returned.

The Winter Olympics were first, being held in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Norway, Sweden and Switzerland each led the medal count with 10. Norway and Sweeden each won four golds, three silvers and three bronzes. Switzerland claimed three golds, four silvers and three bronzes. 

The Summer Olympics were held in London.

With future powerhouse Germany banned and fellow superpower, The Soviet Union opting not to attend, the Americans dominated the medal count. The USA claimed 38 golds and 84 overall medals. Sweden was second in both counts, winning 16 golds and 44 medals.

Israel declared independent state

Regardless of where one falls in the debate, it’s undeniable that Israel has been a source of controversy since its founding. It’s been hotly debated and fought over on the world stage, particularly as it relates to the Middle East.

That all began in 1948 with its formation.

On May 14, Israel was declared an independent nation. The following day, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War began.

Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi

On January 30, one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century was assassinated. Gandhi was long active in the fight for India’s independence, as well as civil rights throughout the world.

Nathuram Godse shot Gandhi three times at a close distance. Gandhi died shortly thereafter.

Godse was executed by hanging in November of 1949.

Death of Babe Ruth

Ruth sparked baseball’s popularity in the 1920s. He rewrote baseball’s record book, retired as MLB’s leader in single season and career home runs, was responsible for baseball regaining its popularity following the Black Sox scandal of 1919, and remains an iconic figure in baseball, sports, and Americana, in general.

On August 16, Ruth passed away of cancer at the age of 53.

His casket was presented at Yankee Stadium, where just under 100,000 people paid their respects.

NASCAR is founded

Now one of the biggest sporting organizations in the world, NASCAR was founded by Bill France Jr. in 1948. In the 68 years that have passed, it’s grown quite a bit.

In February of 2016, Chris Smith of Forbes estimated that NASCAR’s top 10 teams had generated just under $ billion in the previous year.

Even with the growth, NASCAR has stayed in the France family. Today, Brian France, Bill’s grandson, is NASCAR’s CEO and Chairman.

Hamlet was released

Plenty of Shakespeare’s plays have been turned into movies. But arguably, none were as good or successful as this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SW-KQ8tH1qA

Laurence Olivier produced, directed and starred in Hamlet, which was released in May.

At the following year’s Academy AwardsHamlet cleaned up. Olivier won best actor, playing the titular role. It also won Best Art and Set Direction for a Black and White movie, as well as Best Costume Design for a Black and White movie. Hamlet also won the big one, taking Best Picture honors.

Other pro champions: Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Bullets, Toronto Maple Leafs

In the NFL Championship game, the Eagles and Chicago Cardinals squared off in a rematch of 1947’s championship game. Philadelphia avenged it’s 28-21 loss from the previous year, dethroning the Cardinals in a 7-0 win. The game was played in the midst of a driving snowstorm in Philadelphia.

While a team from The City of Brotherly Love dethroned a champ in football, another was dethroned in basketball.  In the second year of the BAA Finals, the Baltimore Bullets upended the Philadelphia Warriors 4-2. After the following season, the BAA and National Basketball League would merge, becoming the NBA.

In the midst of a hockey dynasty, the Toronto Maple Leafs won their second of three straight Stanley Cup Championships. The Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings in a 4-0 sweep. The two teams met again in 1949, producing the same result. The 1948 championship was the fourth of six won by Toronto between the 1941-42 and 1950-51 seasons.

In college, the Michigan Wolverines went 9-0 to claim the NCAA Football National Championship. In College Basketball, the Kentucky Wildcats won their first of two straight. It was the first of eight championships for Kentucky.

Michael Dixon
Bay Area born and raised, I have extensive experience in both the print and online worlds. There are few things in this world I love doing more than talking sports.