In 116 years of shared history, there were bound to be a few common threads between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox organizations. Those links extend far beyond a handful of players and coaches who make up each respective dugout this season while the two face off in the American League Division Series in their fifth playoff matchup all-time.
The most visible overlap between the two franchises may start from the managerial positions. Indians manager Terry Francona spent a portion of his playing career with the Indians before guiding the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 2004 to end an 86-year championship drought. Across the diamond, Red Sox manager John Farrell spent the majority of his playing days as a member of the Indians, including time as Francona’s teammate during the 1988 season.
Sunday marked the 125th anniversary of the first game at Cleveland’s League Park. Cy Young was the starting pitcher for the National League’s Cleveland Spiders against the Cincinnati Reds in front of a sellout crowd at the 9,000 seat wooden facility in the city’s Hough neighborhood.
As it was described in the following day’s edition of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland (spelling is correct):
“At eight minutes past 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon Denton Young, ex-rail splitter, put a double reef in his trousers, wet a brand new Spalding base ball with his fingers, smiled grimly and then propelled his arm through space, releasing the ball as he did it.
“It sailed gently toward a rubber plate firmly fastened in the ground some feet in front of him and passed directly over the center of that plate.
“Standing on one side of that piece of rubber was a young man dressed in a baggy blue flannel uniform with a great big bat in his hand. This man was “Biddy” McPhee. He made not a move when that ball passed over the plate and Umpire Phil Powers gently murmured “one strike”. The base ball season of 1891 was open in Cleveland and the heart of the lover of the game was glad.”
The Naps bring a former Clevelander home, acquiring 41-year-old pitcher Cy Young from the Boston Red Sox for Charlie Chech, Jack Ryan, and $12,500.
For Young, it is a return to the site where he baseball career blossomed. He debuted …
In a very Cleveland-centric Hall of Fame vote, three former members of the American League franchise are elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America as part of the second election.
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The concept of a baseball hall of fame had been used as a literary device by sportswriters for 25 years before plans were announced in 1935 for a hall of fame and museum in Cooperstown, New York.
The first year’s inductees were five of the game’s all-time greats: Ty Cobb, then and for a long time thereafter baseball’s batting leader; pitchers Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson; Honus Wagner, who could lay claim to the title of the best shortstop of all-time (and still has a strong case), and Babe Ruth, who had retired just a year earlier (although the Baseball Writers Association of America, then as now, was tasked with voting for players, under largely the same rules, the five-year waiting period after retirement had yet to be formally imposed).
But no Indians. That oversight would be rectified in a major way with the following year’s election, as all three players elected by the BBWAA were already Cleveland baseball legends.
Although they haven’t won a World Series since 1948, the Cleveland Indians haven’t gone without recognition. While nothing can replace the prestige of a World Series win, there have been quite a few other awards that have come the Tribe’s way throughout the years. They’re not World Series rings but, in true Cleveland fashion, they are all, of course, major awards.
Along with winning the World Series in 1948, the Indians garnered some individual player recognitions, as well. Lou Boudreau was far and wide recognized as one of the most vital assets to that 1948 team, winning the Most Valuable Player award, The Sporting News Player of the Year, and The Sporting News AL Player of the Year. The Sporting News also recognized teammate Bob Lemon as the AL Pitcher of the Year in 1948, giving the Indians a few extra gloating opportunities.
The Indians had a few more brushes with glory in the 1950s, despite their teams as a whole not being able to make it back to the World Series’ winners’ circle. Al Rosen was named the 1953 MVP, and Herb Score was the Rookie of the Year in 1955. Score also earned the title of Rookie Pitcher of the Year from The Sporting News, where Lemon was again named the AL Pitcher of the Year.