Posts By Vince Guerrieri
Before there was Slider, there was the Baseball Bug.
But before there were either – or the Phillie Phanatic, or the Pirate Parrot – there was the San Diego Chicken.
Ted Giannoulas put on a chicken costume for a San Diego radio station in 1974. He took his act on the road and became most intrinsically linked with the city’s baseball team, the Padres (ironically, Giannoulas – who finally hung up the chicken suit after the 2016 season – grew up listening to Indians games from Ontario). He really became the godfather of all the mascots.
He never played for the Indians – and in fact for more than a decade he terrorized pitching in Cleveland and in all the other cities in the American League – but Jimmie Foxx’s post-baseball life involved a stint in Cleveland – and he still has a baseball field named for him in Lakewood.
Foxx dropped out of high school in Maryland to play baseball and signed as a catcher by the Philadelphia Athletics. But the Athletics already had a future Hall of Famer behind the plate in Mickey Cochrane, and Foxx was switched to first base and was a mainstay for the A’s teams that won pennants from 1929-1931, and the 1929 and 1930 World Series. (Those three seasons would mark Foxx’s only postseason appearances.)
Trouppe (born Troupe; he changed his name in 1946) was a legend in the Negro Leagues, serving as player-manager for the Cleveland Buckeyes team that won the Negro World Series. He’d also played in Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico – basically anywhere that would have him with warm weather in the offseason.
They’re the two most tantalizing words in the English language, allowing flights of fancy that are leap-years away from reality but for a small turn of events could have happened.
Sports Illustrated took that direction with a recent series of articles presenting alternate scenarios throughout sports history – including a few with a Cleveland connection. One wonders about Ray Chapman not being fatally beaned in 1920, another ponders LeBron playing soccer instead of basketball, and another presents an alternate history of the 2004 NFL Draft, with the Browns possibly taking Larry Fitzgerald (he’s still on the board because the Cardinals drafted Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger went to the Giants).
But the big one develops an alternate timeline with George Steinbrenner becoming a titan in Cleveland sports.
Editor’s note: Monday’s “Pitch Talks” event has been cancelled, according to the group’s Facebook page. No reason was given for the change nor was any announcement made about a rescheduled date in the future.
A speaker series that brings top baseball media to bars and clubs across North America is coming to the Grog Shop in Cleveland on Monday, April 24.
About a decade ago, Indians broadcaster Matt Underwood read a story in the Toledo Blade about the benefit game staged at League Park in 1911 for the family of pitcher Addie Joss, struck down before the season’s start with a case of bacterial meningitis.
The story stuck with him. “It’s really great story, and it hasn’t really been told,” he said.
If Congressional representatives in Ohio, South Carolina, and New Jersey – among other states – get their way, Larry Doby could soon be in some select company.
Ohio’s senators – Democrat Sherrod Brown, an avowed Indians fan, and Republican Rob Portman – have introduced legislation to make Doby the latest recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal, and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) has proposed the same bill in the House.
With one game under his belt, San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner is nearly a quarter of the way to a record.
Bumgarner hit two home runs Sunday in a loss to the Diamondbacks (he took a perfect game into the sixth inning, but even with new personnel, the Giants’ bullpen continues to blow leads, dropping not one, but two save opportunities), each a solo shot and a towering blast. It was the first time that a pitcher had hit two home runs on Opening Day.
The record for home runs in a season by a pitcher is nine, set in 1931 by Indians hurler Wes Ferrell. Both Wes and his brother Rick found their way into the big leagues. Rick went on to a Hall of Fame career as a catcher. Wes’ career was good but not hall-worthy, at least, not yet; he was on the cringe-inducingly named pre-integration era ballot in 2016.
Join Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we dig through the archives in our countdown to Opening Day with a story on the late Bobby Avila, who would have turned 93 today.
Countdown to Opening Day – 1 days
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.
In spring training 1934, the Indians got the Babe in the lineup – and even on the pitching mound.
No, not that one.
Babe Didrikson, the Texas native two years removed from a pair of Olympic track gold medals, was looking for her next world to conquer. She was going to tour that summer with the House of David barnstorming team, and was trying to round into playing shape.
After getting some pointers from Burleigh Grimes, holding on for what turned out to be his last season in the majors, she was ready to make the rounds of major league spring training camps. And were it not for the weather, her first appearance would have been for the Indians.
When I heard they were making a movie about Game 7 of last year’s World Series, I said … well, I said lots of things, most unfit for public consumption.
Of course, this comes the day after David Ross – whose forthcoming book “Teammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series For the Ages” will serve as the basis for the book – made his appearance on the “Dancing With the Stars” season opener. (As a child of the 80s, I feel obligated to root for Mr. T.)
I can’t even bring myself to hate-watch this movie, and you’d be surprised at the movies I’ve hate-watched. (Hellooooo, “Spice World!”)
There’s nothing like being somewhere other than Cleveland for spring training, and the Indians have definitely visited a multitude of places. In the 1920s, they visited New Orleans – enough that they saw fit to make political boss Huey Long a stockholder in the team. Currently, they’re in Arizona, a return to a location they’ve visited on and off since the 1940s. And thanks to “Major League,” Hi Corbett Field lives on in silver screen immortality as an Indians’ spring training home.
But during World War II, the Indians stayed closer to home – because they had to.