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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | May 27, 2017

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Indians History

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 21

March 13, 2017 |

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Countdown to Opening Day – 21

In 1998, Cleveland retired the number 21 in honor of longtime Tribe member Bob Lemon, whose transition from a position player to a quality starting pitcher led to seven trips to the Midsummer Classic, a leading role in the 1948 and 1954 American League champion Indians teams, and ultimately, a spot in Cooperstown in the Hall of Fame.

But while Lemon last wore the number on the field as a player with the Indians in 1958, several big names would honor the work that he had done in the jersey with quality careers in a Cleveland uniform in the years to come. Read More

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 25 – Jim Thome

March 9, 2017 |

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Countdown to Opening Day – 25 days

When Indians legend Jim Thome was first called up to the Major Leagues, he, the Indians, and their fans all had no idea what a ride we were all about to be put on. In fact, even Thome worried about whether or not he would be able to stick around at first. Read More

National League Abandoned Cleveland 117 Years Ago Today

March 8, 2017 |

On this date 117 years ago, Major League Baseball died in Cleveland. It wasn’t dead for long.

At the National League owners meeting, the owners voted to reduce from 12 teams to eight. Gone were Baltimore, Cleveland, Washington, and Louisville. The Cleveland team, the Spiders, was a ripe candidate for contraction. Frank and Stanley Robison owned the St. Louis team in addition to the Spiders, and systematically looted the Spiders, taking all the talent to St. Louis. The Spiders were so bad, nobody in the league wanted to come to Cleveland to play them, because attendance was so lackluster that visiting teams couldn’t recoup travel expenses. So the Spiders played 112 of their 154 games on the road – and lost 101, a record that will probably never be matched, let alone surpassed.

But all was not lost in Cleveland. Ban Johnson, a former sportswriter, was determined to start a new major league from the remnants of the Western League, a minor league. And there would be a team in Cleveland, owned by Charles Somers and John Kilfoyl. The team would bring in a familiar name to manage: James McAleer, a Youngstown native who had played for the Spiders (and Cleveland’s brief entry into the Players League in 1890). Read More

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 29 – Andre Thornton

March 5, 2017 |

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Countdown to Opening Day – 29

Sometimes you can take a ballplayer out of Cleveland, but you can’t take the Cleveland out of the ballplayer. For former Tribe slugger Andre Thornton, it turns out that he’s still got a whole lot of Cleveland left in him and he has no intention of changing that. Read More

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 32

March 2, 2017 |

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Countdown to Opening Day – 32

The number 32 has been missing in regular action on the diamond for the Cleveland Indians for the last three years. That could continue on into 2017, as no player currently holds the number as his own with spring training well under way from Goodyear, Arizona.

Pitchers have been the primary wearer of 32 in recent Indians history and the last to do so, Matt Albers in 2013, was no different. Read More

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 33

March 1, 2017 |

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Countdown to Opening Day – 33 days

The number 33 has a curious place in Indians history. It has been worn by a handful of prolific sluggers, generally outside of their glory years on the diamond, and at other times was on the backs of some of the better pitchers on the roster through the 1960s.

It may be unfortunate that a number linked to some great hitters was tarnished some over the last few years after being claimed by Nick Swisher. The large sum of money given to the one-time free agent, returning from the Big Apple to his former Ohio stomping grounds, may go down as one of the worst expenditures in the long history of the Indians franchise. To be fair, injuries took the wind out of Swisher’s sails and the pressures of being a cleanup hitter in the Tribe’s lineup were expectations he never was able to live up to fully. Now, Swisher has formally hung up the cleats after brief time in Atlanta and back in the minors with the New York Yankees last season and will assume the full-time roles of father and husband before his inevitable sports media career begins.

Prior to Swisher, fans trying to recall some of their favorite seasons in recent Cleveland memory may recall a pair of forces in the lineup that both contributed to playoff teams. Read More

Wood, Finished as a Pitcher, Still Contributed to Indians’ Success

March 1, 2017 |

In 1916, new Indians owner Jim Dunn made a splashy signing, buying Tris Speaker’s contract from the Red Sox for $70,000 – then the highest price ever paid for a major league ballplayer.

A hundred years ago, Dunn, with Speaker’s advice, bought another contract from Boston. That player wasn’t as productive, but it turned out to be an important deal for the Indians.

The Tribe took a flyer on Smoky Joe Wood. He was far removed from his dominant 1912 season, where he went 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA, winning three games in that year’s World Series. In fact, he hadn’t pitched at all during the 1916 season, yet the Indians and their fans believed he still had enough in the tank to be of some service.

“If you want to know how I feel about the news that we have bought Joe Wood, you can put it down that I am tickled to death,” said manager Lee Fohl. Read More

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 38 – Eric Plunk

February 24, 2017 |

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Countdown to Opening Day – 38 days

There were 38 Cleveland Indians players to wear #38 as their jersey numbers prior to the 2016 season, so if the Tribe’s front office wanted to just be ironic, they could have chosen to never pass out the number again and retire it up in the mezzanine level at Progressive Field.

If they were going to retire #38 – not that they should – the man who deserves it the most is probably former reliever Eric Plunk. Read More

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 40 – Bartolo Colon

February 22, 2017 |

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Countdown to Opening Day – 40

There is something about Bartolo Colon that makes him beloved by fans across the nation and the world.

Sure, he has had a long and sometimes successful Major League career, keeping his name in the news during springs and summers since debuting with the Cleveland Indians in 1997. But now, many years removed from a slimmer, more dominating flame-throwing version of himself, Colon now looks like an everyman, resembling more of a middle-aged man who had let himself go and now is attempting to squeeze himself into a pair of baseball pants in some sort of midlife crisis.

Colon takes the brunt of the jokes for being out of shape and being a really, really lousy looker while standing in the batter’s box.

But the joke’s on you – the 43-year-old right-hander signed a $12.5 million deal in November to join the starting rotation of the Atlanta Braves, providing lots and lots of life experience and veteran leadership to a young team, now constructed by John Hart, a very familiar face for Colon from his time in Cleveland. Read More

Swisher Gets His Happy Ending – But Not with Tribe

February 22, 2017 |

When the Indians signed Nick Swisher after a disastrous 2012 season, optimism was running high. His bubbly personality couldn’t help but rub off on his teammates. The Dolans were willing to open the checkbook (the four-year deal was $56 million, with a club option for a fifth year bringing the deal to a staggering $70 million, more than the Indians had ever paid for a free agent) and made the pitch for the Ohio native to return home.

Now that Swisher’s riding off into the sunset, announcing his retirement about a year and a half after the Indians decided they’d rather eat Chris Johnson’s salary than keep him around, we can close the book on him. (Insert Harry Doyle saying, “Thank God.”) Swisher’s signing was a bad marriage that actually might have held back the team’s success.

Swisher was 32 when the Indians signed him – an age typically regarded as being on the down slope of a player’s career. But there was no reason to believe he wouldn’t play – and wouldn’t produce. In each of the previous eight years, he’d played at least 130 games (and at least 150 in six of those years). His average wasn’t great, but he was good for at least 20 home runs. Read More

Presidential First Pitch Originated With Ohio, Cleveland Ties

February 20, 2017 |

This story was first published on April 10, 2012. – BT

The throwing out of the ceremonial first pitch is a tradition that started in 1910 with President William Howard Taft. And it’s all because of a Youngstown native and former Cleveland baseball player and manager named Jimmy McAleer.

McAleer knocked around the minor leagues in the 1880s before breaking into the National League with the Cleveland Spiders in 1889. He was regarded as speedy on the basepaths and in center field. His batting was a little less solid. The Robisons, owners of the Spiders, also bought the St. Louis Browns of the National League (later the Cardinals) and essentially cherry-picked all the talent from Cleveland to St. Louis. McAleer opted to stay in Northern Ohio. The Spiders folded after the 1899 season, but McAleer latched on as player/manager for the Lake Shores, a team in the American League in 1900. Read More

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 42

February 20, 2017 |

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Countdown to Opening Day – 42 days

Major League Baseball retired Jackie Robinson’s number 42 across the game on April 15, 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his monumental breaking of the color barrier. Indians reliever Michael Jackson was one of 13 players who were wearing that number at the time and was allowed to continue wearing it, making him the last to call the number his own for Cleveland.

In 2013, the last of those original 13 players, Mariano Rivera, retired from baseball. Since 2007, the number has returned around the league for one day each year, thanks to the efforts in 2007 of 2016 Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., who wanted to honor Robinson on the 60th anniversary of his debut.

Jackson not only has the honor of being the last to wear the number regularly for the Tribe, but he had some of the best seasons in Cleveland history by a player wearing the number. Read More