Just how fast was Bob Feller’s fastball?
Really, it’s a question that’s been asked of any pitcher before, say, Nolan Ryan’s time. Radar guns didn’t start to be used to measure auto speeds until the late 1940s, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that that baseball coaches and managers started using them to clock pitches (largely because as is the case with any new technology, the cost was prohibitively expensive for private use initially).
So before then, people had to get creative to measure the speed of pitches. Walter Johnson threw a fastball that was timed around 97 mph against a speeding motorcycle in 1914. In 1940, Feller took a similar test, which measured around 104 mph.
Before there were the Indians, there were the Cleveland Spiders.
The Spiders started out as Cleveland’s entry into the minor league American Association in 1887, then joined the National League two years later. In their decade in that league, the Spiders went from highs, winning the Temple Cup for the playoff between the first- and second-place teams in 1895, to lows, an unsurpassed record of 20-134 in their final year of existence in 1899.
The Cleveland Indians will honor another one of their legends of the past on Saturday, when the club unveils a statue of Lou Boudreau, its fifth at Progressive Field and its second to debut this season.
The statue of Boudreau will take up residence alongside two of his former teammates, Bob Feller and Larry Doby, outside of the Gate C entrance to the ballpark. The statues of Jim Thome and this year’s other addition, Frank Robinson, are on display inside the park.
When the Indians met the White Sox on July 31, 1935, there wasn’t a lot at stake. The Tigers were cruising in the American League lead, the Pale Hose weren’t that close, and the Indians were scuffling (manager Walter Johnson was for all intents and purposes a lame duck).
But that day, they got a power surge from an unlikely source. Not that it helped.
At the 1997 trading deadline, the Indians were in first place in the American League Central Division – barely.
The team was off July 31 – a Thursday – and holding on to a 2 ½ game lead over the Brewers. Less than two years removed from a World Series appearance, the team looked markedly different. Gone from that team were Eddie Murray, Carlos Baerga, Kenny Lofton, Paul Sorrento, and Dennis Martinez, in addition to Albert Belle, who’d signed in the previous offseason with the White Sox.
Chad Ogea and spot starter Brian Anderson were on the disabled list, and Orel Hershiser had a strained groin muscle. The Indians’ biggest deal at the deadline was the acquisition of John Smiley. But they benefited mightily from a deal made by their Central Division rivals in Chicago.
In 1948, Indians owner Bill Veeck made headlines with his signing of Satchel Paige. The ageless wonder was most known for his achievements in the Negro Leagues, but he was famous on at least two continents with regular barnstorming tours and playing winter ball in South and Central America.
He was so well-traveled that his stint with the Indians wasn’t even his first time in Cleveland.
On July 1, 1951, Bob Feller made major league history, throwing his third career no-hitter.
Eleven days later, Feller was on the short end of another no-hitter – at the hands of a former teammate.
A crowd of 39,195 had settled in for a pitcher’s duel between Feller and Allie Reynolds. The Tribe was in fourth place, 4 ½ games behind the league-leading Red Sox and three behind the Yankees, then in third.
Twenty years ago Saturday, the jewel on the lake hosted baseball’s best and brightest as all gathered to partake in the 68th edition of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Cleveland was the site of the Midsummer Classic, hosting the game for the first time since setting a new All-Star record crowd at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium in 1981. The venue changed, but the crowd that came out in support of the game was treated to a historic effort from one of its hometown boys.
As soon as plans were announced for an All-Star Game at Comiskey Park to coincide with the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933, every other city in the major leagues wanted to host one – including Cleveland.
The Indians had a history with all-star contests, holding a benefit game for Addie Joss’ family in 1911 that was then the largest collection of star power on one field. The city’s newly-constructed stadium on the lakefront downtown would also make a perfect venue for the game.
And it did, two years later – but that turned out to be the only major league game played at the stadium that year.
Dave Duncan’s long career in professional baseball dates back to 1963, but it was his incredible performance in 1966 with Modesto of the California League that earned him entrance to the league’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday night.
Duncan was one of five new inductees as part of the second class of the California League’s Hall of Fame during a pregame ceremony on Tuesday night in Visalia, California, prior to the All-Star Game between in the North and South Divisions. The longtime baseball lifer was joined by his former coaching partner Tony La Russa, two other Major League Hall of Famers in Mike Piazza and Kirby Puckett, and umpire Doug Harvey.
Last month, Ken Harrelson announced next year will be his final one in the White Sox broadcast booth.
Harrelson, who had already scaled back his broadcast schedule this year, will have the opportunity for a victory lap, but his retirement as a player, 46 years ago today in Boston as a member of the Indians, involved a news conference where he kept reporters waiting after a golf tournament – a sign of his future career aspirations.
Harrelson was a high school phenom in football, basketball, and baseball in Savannah, Georgia. His favorite sport was football, and he planned to go to the University of Georgia, but his mother suggested following the money, so Harrelson signed with the Athletics, making his major league debut four years later, in 1963.
In a baseball career that spanned nearly 40 years, there was no team Billy Martin was more closely associated with than the New York Yankees. He was a World Series hero for them in the 1950s, and he managed them to championships in the 1970s. His uniform number, 1, is retired in the Bronx, and his tombstone in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York, reads, “I might not have been the greatest Yankee to put on the uniform, but I was the proudest.”
But in the late 1950s, exiled from the team he loved, Martin bounced around, including a stop in Cleveland in what could have been a historic year for the Indians, but one that instead laid bare the dysfunction of the team, from which it would take generations to recover.