The mystery of the missing Cleveland Indians pennant from the 1948 World Series

CLEVELAND (ABC NEWS) -- The pennant from the last time the Cleveland Indians won the World Series in 1948 has been missing for more than 67 years, prompting some fans to blame the missing memorabilia for The Tribe's lack of championship wins since it was last seen.

The whereabouts of the pennant have been a topic of legend in Major League Baseball. On Sept. 23, 1949, after the Indians were knocked out of contention for that year's World Series, then-owner Bill Veeck concocted an idea to take advantage of the "lovely championship hangover" and boost revenue, Indians curator Jeremy Feador told MLB.com. He held an elaborate funeral for the flag.

The pennant was placed in a casket and had a horse-drawn funeral hearse from the 1800s, Feador said. It was buried behind the fence in the outfield at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, with Indians players serving as pallbearers. The grave for the pennant even had a headstone that said "1949 Champs," historical photos show.


As time went on, Indians fans began to forget about the pennant. No one has seen it since it was buried, Feador said. But he has a few theories on what could have happened to it.

The 14-by-20-foot pennant could have been dug up in the 1990s and mistaken for garbage when ground broke for Cleveland Browns Stadium, built to replace Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Feader thinks it could be in a landfill somewhere or in the basement of a fan who's just waiting for the "right time" to unveil it.


Many Indians fans say the missing pennant is the reason why it's been 68 years since The Tribe won a World Series, ABC affiliate WEWS in Cleveland reported.

Baseball and superstition go hand-in-hand, as Chicago Cubs fans also know well. The Cubs are currently trying to defeat the Curse of the Billy Goat, which legend says was imposed upon the team the last time they appeared in a World Series -- in 1945.

The city of Cleveland celebrated another one of its winning teams on Monday -- the Cavaliers, who won the NBA championship in June.

"It would be like Dan Gilbert right now taking the Cavs' pennant down and burying it underneath Quickenloans if they don't make it to the playoffs this year," Feador told WEWS.

The Indians last played in the World Series in 1997, though they didn't win. They have won twice before: first in 1920 and last in 1948. The only signage at FirstEnergy Stadium now that signifies their last World Series win is a small sign with the numbers "1948" printed on it.

The Indians play the Cubs in Game 3 of the 2016 World Series on Friday at 8:08 p.m. at Wrigley Field. The teams are currently tied in the series at 1-1.

Feador is asking fans to look for additional memorabilia from the Indians 1948 World Series win that they may not even know they have.

"There's probably a lot of stuff out there that we don't know about, but I would love to hear about," he said. "So check your attics, check your basements, ask your family."
 

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