Each year, Americans take pause to celebrate Veterans Day on November 11. The day, occasionally confused with the intentions of Memorial Day, recognizes and honors veterans of military service and not just those who paid the ultimate price during active duty. Known initially as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I, the holiday’s name was changed in 1954 to its current incarnation, but is no less significant in its purpose.
Major League Baseball has had its fair share of ball players with military experience, including a total of 68 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame who are recognized there by medals hanging below their bronze plaques in the Plaque Gallery in Cooperstown. Some of these players fulfilled their commitments prior to their playing careers while others completed theirs afterwards. Plenty, however, sacrificed time during the prime years of their professional careers to serve the greater good and protect the nation as a whole.
In honor of Veterans Day, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look back at one of many heroes who represented the Indians on the field and the United States on the battlefield. This story by Vince Guerrieri was originally published December 24, 2013. – BT
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 had an amazing career just by making it to the major leagues.
Because I’m middle-aged, and have friends of similar vintage or older, the Browns laying an egg this season after being on the Sports Illustrated cover as the trendy pick to win the division – and possibly more – has brought a lot of comparisons to the “Indian Uprising” cover of 1987.
The year before, the Indians fielded a lineup with four .300 hitters and finished with a winning record for the first time in seven years. Sports Illustrated said the 1987 Indians were the best team in the American League. They went on to lose 101 games, the second 100-loss season for the Tribe in three years.
It was a bad combination of a staggering fall after elevated expectations – exactly what this season appears to be for the Browns.
Tommy John, who spent the first two years of his 26-year Major League career with the Cleveland Indians, was one of ten men named to the 2020 Modern Baseball Era ballot on Monday by the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Modern Baseball Era is one of four different Era Committees which looks at those previously involved in the game of baseball while giving consideration to them for inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Candidates in these respective groupings are voted on by 16-member panels, with each era rotating every few years. Last year, the Hall gave consideration to those of the “Today’s Game Era” and added both reliever Lee Smith and designated hitter/outfielder Harold Baines to the ever-growing list of baseball immortals.
Cleveland Indians radio announcer Tom Hamilton was named as one of eight finalists on Friday for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s annual Ford C. Frick Award.
This year’s Ford C. Frick Award focuses on “Current Major League Markets” (team-specific announcers) after recognizing “Broadcasting Beginnings” last year and “National Voices” the fall before. Criteria for selection for the Ford C. Frick Award, as established by the Board of Directors, includes a “commitment to excellence, quality of broadcasting abilities, reverence within the game, popularity with fans, and recognition by peers.” To be eligible for consideration, the broadcaster (either active or retired) must have worked for ten continuous seasons with a club or network. According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, more than 200 broadcasters fit those qualifications this year.
A bat believed to have been used in Cleveland for one of the milestone home runs in major league history is coming to the auction block.
In Babe Ruth’s time with the Yankees, slugging records fell at a, well, record pace, and on Aug. 11, 1929, Ruth became the first major league player to hit 500 career home runs. The Yankees were playing the Indians at League Park, with its inviting short right field fence, at just 290 feet. Not even the 40-foot-tall wall could keep Ruth from popping baseballs over it. (All told, he hit 46 home runs at League Park, more than any other opposing player.)
Tom Waddell, a pitcher during some tough years for the Cleveland Indians in the mid-1980s, passed away on September 14 after suffering a heart attack. He was just days short of his 61st birthday.
Born in Scotland, Waddell is one of a small number of players in Major League history to come across the pond (49 have represented the United Kingdom professionally, but just 26 have debuted since 1901 according to Baseball-Reference.com). His family moved to New Jersey when he was a child, but after pitching for Manhattan College and with semipro teams in the area, he went undrafted (kidney issues and a right elbow injury hindered his stock). He worked as a clothing salesman for a period of time but eventually had confidence that his arm felt good enough to give baseball a second chance. He impressed Atlanta Braves scouts, including Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, at a tryout and got a minor league contract, starting his professional baseball career.
A generation later, Indians fans held the same hopes about another manager who brought with him certain headaches but could be counted on to win: Billy Martin.
It is entirely possible we’ve seen Jason Kipnis in an Indians uniform for the last time.
Sadly, it’s more than possible.
Kipnis was lifted from Sunday’s game with wrist soreness. An MRI revealed a broken hamate, one of the carpal bones in his right wrist. The break will require surgery, shelving him for 4-6 weeks, which means even if the Indians make a deep postseason run – which seems less probable by the day – he probably won’t be able to return for the Indians this year.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on 9/23/15 by Vince Guerrieri – BT
The 1908 season – like so many since – ended in disappointment for Cleveland baseball fans.
But it was a wild ride for the last two weeks of the season.
Going into the series with the Boston Red Sox on September 17, the Naps were in second place in the American League, tied with the Detroit Tigers in the win column with 78, but with four more losses, putting them two back with 16 to play.
And then there was one.
This year’s been a rough one for members of the 1954 Indians. Pitcher Don Mossi died in July at the age of 90. Hal Naragon, who backed up Jim Hegan as catcher and returned to his native Barberton after his playing and coaching days (where the high school field is named in his honor), died at the end of August at the age of 91.
And now, Wally Westlake, who was the second-oldest living former major leaguer, has died. Westlake died Friday, according to team sources, at the age of 98. (Ironically, the second-oldest former major leaguer is now Eddie Robinson, the last living player from the last Indians team to win a World Series, in 1948.)
We knew this was coming.
The Indians were able to gain some serious ground on the Twins coming out of the All-Star Break, by fattening up their record against the league’s tomato cans. They caught up to the Twins and even took the lead briefly last month in the American League Central Division after taking three of four in Minnesota. Since then, they’ve fallen back – which wasn’t entirely unexpected. They faced a tougher schedule and the Twins faced an easier one.