Posts By Vince Guerrieri
At first glance, Lou Brissie’s major league career doesn’t look very impressive.
Brissie, whose seven-year career included three with the Indians, went 44-48 with a 4.07 career ERA, one All-Star Game appearance and no postseason experience.
But Brissie, who died last month at the age of 89, had an amazing career just by making it to the major leagues.
July 16, 1948
The Sporting News is renowned as the Bible of baseball, and with good reason. But their comments in the July 14 edition were nothing shy of heresy.
The Sporting News derided Bill Veeck’s signing of ageless Negro League wonder Satchel Paige as a publicity stunt.
“The Sporting News believes that Veeck has gone too far in his quest for publicity, and that he has done his league’s position absolutely no good insofar as public reaction is concerned,” they wrote. “To bring in a pitching ‘rookie’ of Paige’s age casts reflections on the entire scheme of operation in the major leagues.
In 1979, Cardinals first baseman Keith Hernandez shared National League Most Valuable Player honors with Willie Stargell, leading the league with a .344 batting average
Four years later, he was dealt to the Mets, his cocaine use becoming a distraction …
July 4, 1948
On Independence Day, it’s a point of pride to see the professional sports integrated.
And the city of Cleveland is leading the way.
One year ago, team owner Bill Veeck signed Larry Doby from the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League, the first player to go directly from the Negro Leagues to the Major Leagues. Doby’s been kept out of the lineup for the past week, but Cleveland fans have supported Doby, be it out of colorblindness or the kind of acceptance on merit that can only come from a city that hasn’t seen a pennant winner since the early days of Prohibition.
This week the DTTWLN staff is doing an in-depth look at the Cleveland Indians attendance. While everyone knows the Indians have an attendance problem, how they necessarily got to this point appears to be an explanation with many answers including play on the field, population and economic changes and improvements in technology. Regardless of the reasons, one thing is certain, the Indians have an attendance problem. This afternoon, we examine the tipping point in the current attendance decline.
Previous Stories This Week:
From the Perfect Storm to the Indians Attendance Disaster by Bob Toth
Times Have Changed While Indians Attendance Issues Have Worsened by Mike Brandyberry
Indians Attendance Issues Have Spanned Over 65 Years by Vince Guerrieri
In 1986, the Jacobs brothers were heralded as the latest people to save baseball in Cleveland.
The Indians’ grip on the town had been tenuous for the past 30 years, and seriously discussed leaving the city on several occasions. But in each instance, a change in ownership led to some stability in the team – but usually its own upheaval in the front office, leading to decades of mediocre baseball.
This week the DTTWLN staff is doing an in-depth look at the Cleveland Indians attendance. While everyone knows the Indians have an attendance problem, how they necessarily got to this point appears to be an explanation with many answers including play on the field, population and economic changes and improvements in technology. Regardless of the reasons, one thing is certain, the Indians have an attendance problem. Today, we examine the historical aspect of the Indians’ attendance.
In 1946, new Indians owner Bill Veeck made a decision that in the short term helped the Tribe but in the long term almost ruined them – or forced their relocation.
Veeck headed a syndicate that bought the Indians for $2.2 million, and he took over as managing partner in June 1946. After that year, he decided that the Indians would leave League Park at East 66th and Lexington in favor of Municipal Stadium, at the end of East Ninth Street at the lakefront.
June 17, 1948
“It served its purpose when Williams was hitting to right, but he’s not pulling the ball much any more,” Boudreau originally told Charles Heaton of The Plain Dealer.
Boudreau devised the shift after Williams drove in eight runs in an 11-10 win in the first half of a doubleheader. When Williams came up to bat in the second game, Boudreau and third baseman moved over to the right side of the infield, which suddenly was stacked against the pull hitter. However, it appears the shift is becoming a thing of the past for the Splendid Splinter.
Mark DeRosa’s time with the Indians was brief, but his biggest impact came when he left.
DeRosa, who announced his retirement last week, broke in with the Atlanta Braves in 1998, when Turner Field was a shiny new ballpark modified from the Olympics and not the decrepit outdated mess team management says it is now. DeRosa, a New Jersey native who attended the University of Pennsylvania, broke in as a shortstop but proved himself as an adaptable player, playing anywhere in the infield or outfield – and even getting some designated hitter duty when the Braves were playing in an American League Park.
With the conclusion of the baseball season, attention now turns to that other great American spectator sport: Politics.
In addition to determining the fate of the republic – and being entertaining along the way if you find humor in dark places and life’s absurdities like I do – elections can also affect the fate of local sports teams.
In 1928, voters in Cleveland approved a $2.5 million bond issue for construction of a new stadium on the shore of Lake Erie at the end of East Ninth Street. The stadium was advocated by Indians ownership but also by city officials and the Van Sweringen brothers, Cleveland real estate developers who had recently built the Terminal Tower, at the time the second-tallest building in the United States.
A lot of emotions boiled to the surface as the 1993 baseball season ended in Cleveland.
It was a bittersweet ending to the Indians’ time at Municipal Stadium. In its later years, the stadium had become a decrepit home for a mediocre team, but there were still people who remembered when the ballpark was filled to the seams for some of the best players and biggest characters in baseball. Bob Hope, the Cleveland native who was part owner of the Indians during those glory years in the 1940s, sang “Thanks For the Memories.”
Prior to the 2005 season, the Cleveland Indians signed pitcher Kevin Millwood.
At that point, fans who remembered the lack of a top-flight starter for the Tribe and how that hampered their ability to win it all in the 1990s said to themselves, “Too bad it wasn’t five years ago.”
Millwood broke in with the Braves in 1997, going 5-3 in 12 appearances. But in the next two years, he won 35 games. In 1999, he went 18-7, was named to the All-Star team and got votes for the Cy Young Award and the MVP award.