Poole Flashed In Tribe’s Pan, Again, and Again
We’ve all heard of players who enjoy their time with a team so much that they go back when they get the very first chance. An example would be Carlos Pena and the Tampa Bay Rays. Apparently, however, Jim Poole loved Cleveland so much that he returned on three separate occasions. In fact, had his career with the Indians been a song, it would’ve been Eminem’s, “Guess Who’s Back.”
Jim Poole is this week’s Flash in a Pan.
Before getting into Poole’s career, I would like to apologize. I’ll try my best to make the story as chronological as possible, but I can’t make any promises.
Jim Poole’s Indians career began on Mar 18, 1995, when he signed with the Tribe as a free agent. Coming out of the bullpen for the 100-44 Indians, Poole went 3-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 50.1 innings. In the playoffs that year, he made four appearances. In the legendary Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox, Poole almost ended up taking the L as he allowed Boston to score the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning. However, Albert Belle bailed him out with his game-tying home run. He only made one appearance in the ALCS against Seattle, but it was a solid 1-2-3 inning in Game 4.
Poole would make two appearances in the Fall Classic. His first was a 1-2-3 sixth inning in Game 2 against Atlanta. However, it was his other appearance that made him a recognizable name in Indians history. With the Tribe down 3-2 in the series and eventual-MVP Tom Glavine dealing, Poole was called on to pitch in the sixth inning. The game was scoreless and the Indians had one measly hit. David Justice led off the inning for the Braves and launched a 1-1 pitch into right field to give the Braves a 1-0 lead. It was more than enough for the Braves, who would go on to win the game by that same score. The losing pitcher? None other than Poole.
Poole began the 1996 season with the Indians. However, by the time it was over, he was donning San Francisco brown and orange. It was a surprising move because the Indians were en route to the AL’s best record and Poole was a big help out of the pen. He was 4-0 with a 3.04 ERA, but the Indians still decided to send him to the Giants in exchange for Mark Carreon.
Fast-forward to 1998. After starting the season 1-3 with a 5.29 ERA, the Giants decided he was more of a liability than an asset and released him on July 15. One week later, he was back with the Indians. However, his time with the Indians wasn’t much of an improvement. He would only pitch seven innings and tallied a 5.14 ERA without registering a decision.
After the 1998 season, the Indians granted him free agency and Poole signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Poole put up some respectable numbers for the Phillies by going 1-1 with a 4.33 ERA in 35.1 innings. However, it wasn’t enough for them to retain him and much like the Giants, they released him. It took only three days for the Indians to reclaim him this time. However, he only pitched one inning for the Tribe. He gave up three runs, but still ended up with the win.
Moving more into the future, Poole began the 2000 season with the Tigers. Detroit wasn’t very kind to Poole, as he sported a 7.27 ERA in just 8.2 innings with the Motor City Kitties. The Tigers released him and he was then picked up by the Montreal Expos. He didn’t find much success north of the border either, as he gave up six runs in his two innings with the Expos. Montreal decided they had seen enough and released him. Two days later, the Indians signed him once again. However, he wouldn’t play in the Majors again, as he would spend the rest of the season in Triple-A Buffalo, where he put up an ERA of six.
Wow. That was a lot of back-tracking and jumping from year to year.
Poole was drafted by the Dodgers in the ninth round of the 1988 amateur draft. He made his MLB debut on Jun 15, 1990 against the San Diego Padres. He only faced one batter that day – Tony Gwynn – and promptly got the future Hall-of-Famer called out on strikes.
He began the 1991 season with the Texas Rangers, but was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles later that season. He would spend the next three seasons in Baltimore before the revolving door that was Cleveland began turning.
For his career, Jim Poole had a record of 22-12 with a 4.31 ERA in 363 innings. With the Indians, he went 8-3 with a 3.81 ERA over bits and pieces of four seasons. However, it was the sixth inning of the sixth game of the 1995 World Series that will forever overshadow his constant desire to return to Cleveland.