Posts By Vince Guerrieri
It’s not an uncommon occurrence to see two inductees in the same year who have played all or part of their careers with the Indians (prior to this year, it last happened in 2011, with Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven). Rarer still is three inductees from the Indians. That only happened once, in 1937, when Cy Young, Napoleon Lajoie and Tris Speaker were inducted in the second class.
But in 1963, three former players were inducted with ties to Cleveland baseball – all of whom played at League Park.
That year, only the veterans committee voted, and the inductees included Elmer Flick, Sam Rice and John Clarkson. Flick and Rice both played for the Indians, but Clarkson, a posthumous inductee, ended his career more than 70 years earlier with the Cleveland Spiders.
Given the high number of searches today, quite likely in light of the news of Chief Wahoo’s removal from Indians’ uniforms beginning with the 2019 season, here is a story originally penned April 15, 2015, by DTTWLN’s own Vince Guerrieri. – BT
Most Indians fans know the story of Louis Sockalexis.
The Penobscot Indian spent a short time in Cleveland playing for the city’s National League entry, the Spiders, but in a major league career that spanned 94 games, he impressed the fans and his teammates so much that fans cried out to name the team in his honor.
It’s a nice story – of dubious veracity.
He was plucked from the Cleveland sandlots, a son of Bohemian immigrants, and became part of the Indians’ million-dollar outfield (when that represented an outrageous sum – and not just in sports).
And although Joe Vosmik played for five major league teams, Cleveland remained his home for all his life.
Vosmik grew up in the city’s South Broadway neighborhood, just a few miles from the Indians’ home at League Park. And indeed, as a youth it seemed like he spent more time at the ballpark than he did in school, much to his parents’ chagrin.
It wasn’t until the offseason that Terry Francona realized how important the Indians’ 22-game winning streak was.
“I honestly didn’t realize it at the time,” Francona said backstage Wednesday at the 18th annual Cleveland Sports Award. “I tell them, ‘We play today and then turn the page and move on.’ I don’t know that I took the time to enjoy it the way I should have.”
The winning streak was recognized at the awards show, as was Corey Kluber, who was named professional athlete of the year.
When Hall of Fame voting started, I thought Jim Thome was a slam-dunk first-ballot hall of famer – largely on the strength of his 612 (relatively untainted) home runs.
I figured Omar Vizquel, also in his first year of eligibility, would get into the Hall of Fame, but this wasn’t his year due to a crowded ballot. Chipper Jones is probably a first-ballot hall of famer too, and it sounds like Vladimir Guerrero – probably the best bad-ball hitter of his era – is finally getting the traction he needs for a plaque in Cooperstown. And of course, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens loom large over the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s voting process.
I had no idea a Vizquel hall of fame candidacy would be as controversial as it seems to have become.
In 1929, the season belonged to the Philadelphia Athletics. After two years of second-place finishes, the “Mackmen” – so called because of their manager, Connie Mack – won 104 games, breezing to the pennant and a five-game World Series win over the Chicago Cubs.
But the batting title – and the MVP award – belonged to a player the Indians had claimed off the discard pile just a couple years earlier.
Lew Fonseca batted .369 for an Indians team that finished a distant third, 24 games behind the Athletics and six games behind the second-place Yankees. It was a triumph for a player who had been sent to the minor leagues just three years earlier.
This Thursday, the Alabama Secretary of State is expected to certify the results of the Dec. 12 special election, paving the way next week for Doug Jones to be sworn into the U.S. Senate.
No, not that Doug Jones. But I certainly can’t blame you for thinking that. I did – and I was hardly alone.
OK, stop me if you’ve heard this one: An Indians slugger settles in at first base after changing positions, becomes a mainstay of some quality Tribe teams, and ends up signing a fat contract in Philadelphia.
Thome was drafted in the 13th round by the Indians in 1989, breaking in with the team as a third baseman as a September callup two years later. That team lost 105 games – the most losses in Indians history – but good times were just around the corner.
But eight months later, apparently Lane had grown tired of steak.
The Indians suddenly found themselves in the market for a manager after the 1941 season.
Although Cy Slapnicka was celebrated as a scout, unearthing pitching talent like Mel Harder, Herb Score, Bob Lemon, and, most famously, Bob Feller, he had a rough go as the team’s general manager. After missing out on the pennant in 1940, the Indians ended up four games below .500 in a tie for fourth place – 26 games behind the pennant-winning Yankees. Slapnicka, who had had a heart attack in 1938, wanted to return to scouting, which he said was his first love. After one year as manager, Roger Peckinpaugh was promoted to the front office, but that opened a vacancy in the Indians’ dugout.
And as it turned out, the new manager was found in the Tribe dugout as well.
Next year’s Baseball Hall of Fame inductions could have a Cleveland flavor to them.
What’s even more likely is that they’ll have more than a touch of controversy.