I’ll never forget the summer of 1995.
I was 13 years old, just about to enter the eighth grade and in love with the Cleveland Indians. But I wasn’t just some fair-weather fan. In my mind, I had dealt with the hardships of the bad years, having lived through the late 80’s and early 90’s teams that lost almost all of the time. I couldn’t stand that it was suddenly sopopular to root for the Indians. The words “fair weather fans” became a part of my regular vocabulary during the summer of ’95. Where were all of you when the rest of us were all rooting for a losing team? It wasn’t until I was in college and the glory years were almost over that I realized that I hadn’t really “dealt” with anything.
“Kids growing up (in the 90’s) and that’s all they knew…they’re in trouble,” former Indian and TV color man Rick Manning said. “Now look at it…it’s not even close. (The way it is now) is how Indians baseball was when I played (1975-1983) and even before me.”
People my age are spoiled. I’m only 30-some years old and have seen the best, most exciting stretch of baseball that Cleveland has ever had. Sure, I haven’t seen my Tribe win the ultimate prize, but heck, my father just turned 60 and has seen the exact same amount of World Series titles that I have. We’ve seen the same amount of pennants as well, unless you count the one in 1954 when he was two (even with as big of a baseball fan as my dad is, I doubt that he was paying attention at two).
Throughout the 2015 season, Did the Tribe Win Last Night will take a look back at the 1995 Cleveland Indians for the 20th anniversary of their fourth pennant winning season. Included will be historic game recaps, headlining stories and a ranking of the team’s most influential players that truly made 1995 The Greatest Summer Ever. Today looks back at player #22 Alvaro Espinoza.
The 1995 Indians were not only known for being an explosive offensive team with a very solid pitching staff, they were also known for being a very loose and close knit team. Cleveland fans fell in love with the ’95 Tribe not only because they kept winning and winning, but because they looked like they genuinely liked each other and showed that they were always having fun.
Of course, if you were a member of the best team in baseball, how could you not have a great time? The team won almost 70% of the games it played, won the division by 30.0 games, led the league in almost every offensive category, and seemed to hit a walk-off homerun every three days. From the very beginning of the season, the Indians were the talk of baseball and were the favorites to win the American League Pennant and the World Series.
With this kind of fun, however, comes tremendous pressure…especially in the city of Cleveland. The story is well documented, but is worth mentioning. The Indians had not made the playoffs since 1954 and had not won the World Series since 1948. The Cavaliers were a sometimes up, but mostly down, franchise that still could not beat the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs even though Michael Jordan was retired, and the Browns were mediocre at best and already had one foot out the door for their move to Baltimore. The Browns were (and still are) the last championship team in Cleveland, having won the title in 1964. The pressure for the Indians to win was enormous.