Posts By Vince Guerrieri
Snack food fans shed a tear last month when the Dan Dee warehouse in Valley View closed abruptly, signaling the end of a company that could trace its roots back in Cleveland for more than a century.
Maybe a few baseball fans saw occasion to mourn as well.
Over the years, Shoeless Joe Jackson has taken on a mythical quality. Even his name suggests someone born to play ball without even the encumbrance of footwear.
He’s also been immortalized in film. The original characterization of Roy Hobbs in the book “The Natural” was based heavily on him, and some of that carried over to the movie (to wit: His named special bat). Ray Liotta played him in “Field of Dreams,” a movie based on a book called “Shoeless Joe.” And D.B. Sweeney played him in “Eight Men Out,” John Sayles’ telling of the 1919 World Series fix.
Thursday marked what would have been the 100th birthday of one of the legends of the game of baseball, Ted Williams. Did The Tribe Win Last Night shares one of his many memorable encounters with the Indians during his heyday. – BT
On July 14, 1946, Ted Williams was tearing the cover off the ball against the Indians.
In the first half of a doubleheader at Fenway Park, Williams knocked in eight runs, and the Red Sox needed every one of them in an 11-10 win over the Tribe. In the second game, Indians player-manager Lou Boudreau had an idea.
Dean Stone died last week.
Stone was a pitcher in the 1950s and 1960s, predominantly with the Washington Senators. His best year was 1954, when he went 12-10. He was 7-2 at the All-Star break, and named to his only all-star team as a substitute for the injured George Kell.
In that midsummer classic, the second of four played at Cleveland Stadium, Stone became the answer to a trivia question: He was the only pitcher to get a win in an All-Star Game without officially facing a batter.
Before the 1987 season, the Indians were the trendy pick to win the American League East – to the point where Sports Illustrated put Cory Snyder and Joe Carter on the cover for the now infamous “Indian Uprising” issue.
The predictions couldn’t have been more wrong, and as Alvin Dark (himself a one-time Tribe skipper) once said, “When in doubt, fire the manager.” Out the door went Pat Corrales and bullpen coach Doc Edwards became manager.
In 1908, Cleveland’s American League team – then known as the Naps in honor of player-manager Napoleon Lajoie – came agonizingly close to the American League pennant, losing to the Tigers by a half-game because of a game Detroit had no interest in making up (the rule was changed in the offseason).
The following year, the Naps stumbled out of the gate, and 109 years ago this week, the team’s manager and namesake stepped aside.
On August 17, 1909, with the Naps sitting at 57-57 for the year in fourth place, Lajoie announced his resignation, which came as a surprise to owner Charles Somers and president John Kilfoyl, who hastened to say that Lajoie would remain a player for the team.
The New York Times reported that the team was riven with factionalism and infighting, which might have contributed to poor play, but the Plain Dealer said he was “a bigger man because of his resignation.”
It’s really easy to make fun of the Mets.
Like, almost as easy as it is to make fun of the Browns.
They’re still paying Bobby Bonilla. They’ve completely lost their way this season after an 11-1 start. And they seem to have a disproportionate amount of terrible trades. Amos Otis for Joe Foy. Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi. And one right around this time of year 23 years ago with the Indians.
We rely on baseball, Bart Giamatti said, to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive.
Sunday was one of those moments – while also a harsh dose of reality that time marches on.
Jim Thome was among the six inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend. He was a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, probably because he’s a great guy in addition to being a prodigious power hitter. He went in as an Indian, something that hasn’t happened in 20 years (twice that long if you’re talking about a candidate elected by the writers).
Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one: The Indians and the Padres make a deal that involves a catcher that might be destined for great things but doesn’t have a shot at breaking into the starting lineup.
That happened last week, when the Indians dealt Francisco Mejia to San Diego for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. But it also happened after the 1989 season – the Indians, seeing that Joe Carter was on the verge of leaving for free agency, dealt him to San Diego.
At first glance, the 1974 Indians season doesn’t look like one for the ages.
Oh, sure, there were historic moments, like the infamous 10-cent beer night, and Dick Bosman threw a no-hitter in front of the home crowd against the defending champion Oakland Athletics, but the team finished 77-85 for fourth place in the American League East Division.
But to Jim Clark, the voice of the Akron Rubberducks since their days as the Canton-Akron Indians, it was a watershed year – and one that he believes ultimately kept the team in Cleveland.
One hundred and four years ago today, the Indians got the first view of one of the greatest players of all time – one who would bedevil them for the better part of the next two decades.
When the Indians (at that point still known as the Naps) met the Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 11, 1914, they did so before a crowd of 11,087 – the largest non-holiday crowd to see the Naps (who lost 102 games that year, giving no one a really good reason to see them). But they were there to see Boston’s newest pitcher, acquired from the minor league Baltimore Orioles, the team in his home town.
The next day’s Plain Dealer only used the pitcher’s last name: Ruth. His given name was George, but he became known worldwide as Babe, a nickname hung on him because of his naivete in his brief time with the Orioles.
By 1938, League Park had already seen an abundance of baseball history.
Cy Young opened the place – first in 1891 when it was home to the Spiders, and then the new concrete-and-steel ballpark in 1910. Addie Joss threw a perfect game at the close of the 1908 season in what might have been the greatest game ever pitched. Legends like Tris Speaker and Napoleon Lajoie patrolled the field, and the Indians won the 1920 World Series there.
And all those moments were on display July 3, 1938 – when League Park hosted an old-timers game between representatives of the 1908 and 1920 teams, at that point the two best teams in Indians history.