Posts By Vince Guerrieri
It was once said that Moe Berg could speak seven languages – but not hit a curveball in any of them.
Berg, whose itinerant baseball career included two stops in Cleveland, didn’t have to be a good hitter in the days when catchers were more prized for their skill calling games and with the leather than with the bat. But it’s his post-baseball life that’s of interest to moviemakers.
Last Friday, Corey Kluber reached a milestone, with his 1,228th strikeout, putting him alone in third place on the Indians’ all-time list (he added one more before the end of his outing).
It’ll be a while before he catches up to Sudden Sam McDowell with 2,159 strikeouts (Bob Feller stands atop the list with 2,581 Ks), but by reaching third place, he passed two Hall of Famers who were contemporaries, but took vastly different paths to their 1,227 strikeouts with the Indians: Bob Lemon and Early Wynn.
Dave Garcia, a baseball lifer whose eight-decade career included stints coaching and managing the Indians, died Tuesday at the age of 97.
Garcia died in San Diego, where he had been in long-term care, but prior to that he could be spotted at Petco Park. His baseball career started in 1938 when the East St. Louis native was signed to a contract by the St. Louis Browns following a tryout. He got beaned and was promptly cut in spring training. The year after, a knee injury derailed him. He had a decent year in 1942, but World War II intervened, and he served three years in the U.S. Army Air Forces. After that, baseball was his career – and a lengthy one.
Eleven years ago this week, Sports Illustrated put Grady Sizemore on the cover.
The story raved about Sizemore, the Indians center fielder virtually stolen from the Expos in the trade that sent Bartolo Colon to Montreal. His on-base percentage kept improving. He had size. He had speed. He had power. He had legions of female fans – “Grady’s ladies,” they were called. Best of all, he was under team control for another five years. The story likened his numbers at that point to Duke Snider, who went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Dodgers.
“To watch him play day in and day out is a rare treat,” said Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro. “All of us, from the front office to the players to the bat boys, are fortunate to see him every day. He is without a doubt one of the greatest players of our generation.”
It wasn’t to be.
By the time Charles Somers was forced to sell the Indians after the 1915 season, whatever good will – and cash – he had was gone. Which is a shame, because probably nobody did as much as he did to keep not just the Indians, but the entire American League, afloat in its first decade.
Known as the “good angel of the American League,” Somers used his personal fortune to help build stadiums in Chicago and Philadelphia in addition to Cleveland, and at one point, while owner of the Indians (at the time called the Naps), he also owned shares in Boston to keep that team above water. In fact, the team was called the Somersets in some newspapers because of their owners.
Seventy-two years ago this week, Bob Feller became just the second pitcher in Indians history to throw multiple no-hitters, getting his second no-no against the Yankees.
To finish it off, he had to go through the meat of the Bronx Bombers’ lineup, including Tommy Henrich, nicknamed “Ol’ Reliable” by longtime Yankees broadcaster Mel Allen for his ability to deliver in the clutch.
But it’s entirely possible that Feller and Henrich could have been teammates – possibly in Cleveland OR New York.
As the 1921 season dawned, the Cleveland Indians had a home with a new name – and a new souvenir of their achievement the previous season.
The Indians began the season on the road, with a four-game set against the St. Louis Browns and a pair of games against the Tigers in Detroit, before coming home to the familiar confines at the corner of East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue.
The ballpark had been known as League Park since its first inception opened in 1891 for the Cleveland Spiders. But starting in 1921, it had taken on the name of Dunn Field in honor of its owner, Jim Dunn, in honor of a promise he made.
Prior to the 1929 season, Indians owner Alva Bradley demonstrated that he wasn’t shy about spending money. Gordon Cobbledick estimated that the Indians spent $250,000 on players leading up to Opening Day.
Of that total, 20 percent went to the …
Cold weather during sporting events is one of the risks you run in Cleveland.
It’s a regular occurrence in football (witness Red Right 88 at Cleveland Stadium, and the game the Browns beat the Bills in a blizzard in 2007) as well as in baseball, from the infamous Snow-pening Day for the Indians against the Mariners in 2007, prompting the team to actually move games to Milwaukee, to Game 4 of the 1997 World Series, which remains the coldest Fall Classic game ever played.
And it was the same last weekend as the Indians opened against Royals, reaching a milestone of the coldest game ever played at Jacobs/Progressive Field, with temperatures hovering at freezing, 32 degrees. But really, it’s been a tradition throughout team history.
This week, a lot of Indians fans pulled a muscle patting themselves on the back over Mike Clevinger.
Clevinger faced the Angels on Monday and got the win against the team that dealt him while still a minor leaguer for Vinnie Pestano. Clevinger’s turned into a legitimate starter for the Indians – by talent as much as necessity (I don’t feel like I’m crawling out on a limb by saying former All-Star Danny Salazar can’t be counted on a regular starter any longer). Pestano, once the Indians’ setup man, is no longer in the major leagues.
Our countdown to the start of the 2018 Major League Baseball regular season schedule has reached one single day. Join Did The Tribe Win once again as we dig into the archive to recall one of the greats to wear the number one for the Cleveland Indians. – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 1 day
As a child growing up in Veracruz, Mexico, Roberto “Bobby” Avila played soccer and dreamed of being a bullfighter. As a student, he studied engineering. His later life was spent in politics.
But Avila – called Beto in Spanish-speaking nations but known as Bobby in the United States – was probably most famous as the first really prominent Mexican baseball player.
Like most people around when it opened in 1994, David Resnik was instantly enamored with the Indians’ new home of Jacobs Field.
In fact, he was so inspired by it and the talented team that took up residence there that …