Posts By Vince Guerrieri
And then there was one.
This year’s been a rough one for members of the 1954 Indians. Pitcher Don Mossi died in July at the age of 90. Hal Naragon, who backed up Jim Hegan as catcher and returned to his native Barberton after his playing and coaching days (where the high school field is named in his honor), died at the end of August at the age of 91.
And now, Wally Westlake, who was the second-oldest living former major leaguer, has died. Westlake died Friday, according to team sources, at the age of 98. (Ironically, the second-oldest former major leaguer is now Eddie Robinson, the last living player from the last Indians team to win a World Series, in 1948.)
We knew this was coming.
The Indians were able to gain some serious ground on the Twins coming out of the All-Star Break, by fattening up their record against the league’s tomato cans. They caught up to the Twins and even took the lead briefly last month in the American League Central Division after taking three of four in Minnesota. Since then, they’ve fallen back – which wasn’t entirely unexpected. They faced a tougher schedule and the Twins faced an easier one.
Suddenly, the Indians’ offseason moves all make sense.
The Indians shed payroll, letting Michael Brantley walk and dealing away Edwin Encarnacion. (They also traded away Trevor Bauer in midseason; the return on him seems good, but the prospect of arbitration this off-season followed by free agency after next season had to be a factor.) Owner Paul Dolan is managing expectations about the Indians re-signing all-world shortstop Francisco Lindor – or at least, trying to. “Enjoy him” seems destined for Cleveland sports infamy, right up there with Ray Farmer talking about slow-brewed coffee and erstwhile top Browns pick Mike Junkin being described as a “mad dog in a meat market.”
For nearly 30 years, the property formerly home to League Park sat, mostly unused and largely unwanted, in a neighborhood that had suddenly become frightening.
But 40 years ago this week, an event was held to show what the former Indians’ home could be.
This story was originally published on December 23, 2014, as part of a series of stories by Did The Tribe Win Last Night’s Vince Guerrieri on the Indians’ 1920 season. You can find this original story and more categorized on the site under 1920: Tragedy and Triumph. – BT
After a four-game sweep by the Yankees at League Park, the Indians had watched their lead in the American League dwindle from four and a half games down to just half a game. A loss to the St. Louis Browns put the Indians half a game back of the Yankees, who were demonstrating that they didn’t need speed when they had power. The Indians were able to put an end to the five-game skid with a shutout by Bob Clark, the pitcher from Newport, Pennsylvania*, who had thrown batting practice and came on in relief in the exhibition in July against the Reds. It was Clark’s first – and only – major league win.
If the Indians of the late 1930s and early 1940s are known for anything to casual fans, it’s for the skill of a youthful Bob Feller.
But there’s so much more to those teams, as Scott Longert wrote in his latest book, “Bad Boys, Bad Times,” the follow-up to “No Money, No Beer, No Pennants,” a history from Alva Bradley’s purchase of the team in 1927 to Feller’s arrival in 1936. Longert plans on a third book about baseball during World War II, culminating with Bill Veeck’s purchase of the team and its subsequent championship.
“If all goes well, I’ll take it to 1948,” said Longert, who in the meantime just completed work on a children’s book about Cy Young. “I think that will complete the trilogy.”
There’s an odd bit of symmetry to Trevor Bauer’s departure from the Indians.
The talented but mercurial starting pitcher left Cleveland as part of a three-way deal that included the Cincinnati Reds – which is the same way he arrived.
Both deals also involved an impending free agent with a year of arbitration eligibility who the Indians were unable or unwilling to pay to retain.
One of the few remaining members of the 1954 Indians pennant-winning team – and the last major contributor – has died.
Pitcher Don Mossi, who went 6-1, mostly in relief, with a 1.94 ERA for the team that won 111 games but was swept by the Giants, died Friday in Idaho at the age of 90.
Moe Berg might be the most famous .243 hitter in Major League Baseball.
The former catcher, whose 15-year career included two separate but brief stints with the Indians, was the subject of last year’s movie, “The Catcher Was a Spy,” based on the biography of the same name, starring Paul Rudd as Berg, focusing on his World War II exploits with the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to the CIA.
With a history that stretches back to 1901, the Indians have been involved in some bizarre moments in the sport’s history.
They were part of an experiment to use orange baseballs. Their manager once got in a fight with a player from the team’s Triple-A affiliate during an exhibition game. An owner buried the pennant in center field after the team was mathematically eliminated the following year. And of course, who can forget the notorious 10-cent beer night?
But in my estimation, no moment matches for sheer weirdness what happened 25 years ago this week at Comiskey Park.
Age has caught up with Rocky Colavito.
The dark hair has gone white. He’s fought off cancer, had a quadruple bypass after a heart attack, and lost a leg to complications by diabetes. At his event Friday night at the Keybank State Theater in Playhouse Square, he was wheeled out on stage and helped into a chair.
But the love was still there. Colavito, a fan favorite whose trade to the Tigers incensed his legions of rooters, was subject to a sustained standing ovation when he appeared on stage. And he was just as overjoyed to see the crowd as they were to see him.
“I love you all,” he said. “I love Cleveland and I always will.”
With the 90th Midsummer Classic coming to Cleveland on Tuesday, July 9, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look back at some of the other All-Star Games hosted by the city over the years. This story was originally published July 5, 2017. – BT
As soon as plans were announced for an All-Star Game at Comiskey Park to coincide with the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933, every other city in the major leagues wanted to host one – including Cleveland.
The Indians had a history with all-star contests, holding a benefit game for Addie Joss’ family in 1911 that was then the largest collection of star power on one field. The city’s newly-constructed stadium on the lakefront downtown would also make a perfect venue for the game.
And it did, two years later – but that turned out to be the only major league game played at the stadium that year.