Posts By Vince Guerrieri
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.
Jim Leyland is calling it a career.
He never played for or managed the Indians, but his career is intertwined with the Tribe.
Leyland grew up in Perrysburg in Northwest Ohio, a little closer to Detroit than to Cleveland, but …
No matter how you slice it, this year’s Indians represented one of the great turnarounds in team history.
The Tribe went 68-94 in 2011, finishing 20 games back of the Central Division champion Tigers, and cushioned from the basement only …
To most Indians fans, the iconic feature of Progressive Field is the distinctive “toothbrush” light stanchions surrounding the field.
To Canadian artist S. Preston, they’re inspiration for a work of art.
Preston, now living in Southern California, has done computer-designed minimalist art of all 30 stadiums. The final series was released last week, and included the light towers that were unique in the Northern Hemisphere when the ballpark opened in 1994.
April 28, 1948
The Indians will head to the South Side of Chicago undefeated, but without owner Bill Veeck.
Veeck is returning to Cleveland for further medical checkups on his leg. Veeck, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II, lost his foot in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
The series with the White Sox would have marked a homecoming of sorts for Veeck, a Chicago native whose father, William Sr., was a newspaper reporter turned executive with the Cubs. The younger Veeck grew up around the game of baseball, and planted the ivy at Wrigley Field. He became the Cubs’ treasurer after his father died unexpectedly.
For the first time in 65 years, it all comes down to one game for the Indians.
In 1954, the Indians blew away the competition, cruising to 111 wins and the American League pennant. The Tribe had a virtual stranglehold on the AL Central in the 1990s, winning the division by an average of 14.5 games per year, and in 2007, the Indians won the division by eight games and lost a tiebreaker for having home field advantage throughout the American League playoffs.
But Wednesday, the Indians’ postseason fate will be decided by one game, at Progressive Field. The Tribe’s been undone by best-of-five and best-of-seven series, getting swept by the Giants in 1954 and watching series leads evaporate to the Red Sox in 1999 and 2007. But never before have they played in a winner-take-all wild card game.