It is hard to believe, but we are just three short weeks away from the first pitches of the 2018 Major League Baseball season. Today, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night continue our countdown to Opening Day!
Countdown to Opening Day – 21 days
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 on the 1948 and 1954 American League champion Indians teams, and ultimately, a spot in Cooperstown in the National Baseball 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.
As Did The Tribe Win Last Night helps fans count down the days until the Indians retake the field in an official Major League game, we look back at some of the players who wore the Cleveland jersey with pride.
Countdown to Opening Day – 77 days
When pitcher Jack Armstrong asked the Indians to wear the number seven for his first season in Cleveland in 1992, he found out that it had already been taken by another new member of the organization, similarly acquired via trade in the offseason.
1986 – Twenty-one-year-old left-hander Greg Swindell makes his Major League debut, but he takes the loss on an ugly day at Cleveland Stadium as the Indians are throttled by the Boston Red Sox, 24-5.
The young lefty, the second overall …
1989 – Cleveland debuts young right-handed-hitting outfielder Joey Belle, who had the unenviable task of facing future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as the Indians hosted the Texas Rangers at Municipal Stadium.
Belle, better known by the name “Albert” later …
1986 – With the second overall pick in the June Amateur Draft, the Cleveland Indians select left-handed pitcher Greg Swindell out of the University of Texas.
The pick followed that of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who selected infielder Jeff King, the …
When it comes to baseball prospects, there are some players who get on the fast track to the Majors—and then there’s the fast track that former Indians starting pitcher Greg Swindell got on.
“I loved the fast track,” Swindell said. “It was all a blur.”
Swindell, after an outstanding collegiate career out of the University of Texas, was drafted second overall by the Indians in the 1986 Draft. By August of that summer, Swindell was toeing the rubber at Cleveland Stadium against the Boston Red Sox.
“I was very surprised at being picked number two after having never being drafted before,” Swindell remembers. “Then, after a few starts I got my first win and I felt like I belonged in Cleveland.”