I generally try not to reveal my age to others in any facet of my life, but in composing the following, I had to tip my hand a bit.
This week marks 28 years (!) since the Cleveland Indians dealt fan favorite Joe Carter to the San Diego Padres for two prospects and a bit of a veteran journeyman. It would be the start of great things for the Indians organization – something seldom experienced when a perennial basement-dwelling team trades away its most productive player – but it reshaped my understanding of the game of baseball and made a decade of losing worth it during the glory years of the ’90’s.
The Cleveland Indians, fresh off of a disappointing sixth place 73-89 finish, trade their best offensive weapon, Joe Carter, to the San Diego Padres for Sandy Alomar, Carlos Baerga, and Chris James, beginning what would become the best sustained run in the history of the franchise.
But one afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum in 1991, James had the game of his life, setting the team record with nine runs batted in – a mark equaled last week by Lonnie Chisenhall in a rout of the Texas Rangers.
James, the brother of Southern Methodist University and New England Patriots running back Craig James, signed with the Phillies out of high school. He made his major league debut in 1987 in Philadelphia, and in 1989, he was dealt to San Diego for John Kruk and Randy Ready. He spent half a season in San Diego before being dealt to Cleveland.