While the offseason has been historically slow and the winter has crawled along at an even slower pace, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look ahead to the warmer days of the 2018 season by remembering Tribe players past and present.
Countdown to Opening Day – 48 days
He may not have been one of the best to wear 48 in Cleveland, but Travis Hafner was one of the better sluggers in the history of baseball to have the number on his back.
Sam McDowell may hold the honor of being the best pitcher and player to wear 48 in Indians history, but Hafner easily claims that title from the offensive side of the game. McDowell began his big league career as a number 17, then a 34, before settling in to the 48 for the remainder of his time with the Indians before he was traded to the San Francisco Giants following the 1971 season.
The Indians’ long-time designated hitter Hafner was part of one of the better thefts in club history, as the team picked him off from the Texas Rangers in a low-cost trade that gave the Tribe a dangerous power-hitting weapon in the middle of their lineup for the better part of his decade in a Cleveland uniform, serving as a suitable replacement for another left-handed slugger, Hall of Famer Jim Thome, who left the club following the 2002 season.
After several years of being snubbed, and nearly falling short of the American League All-Star team for a third straight year this season (despite statistically deserving consideration), Corey Kluber will finally make his long anticipated debut in the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night when the AL team takes on the National League squad from Petco Park in San Diego, California.
The 2014 Cy Young winner nearly missed the game altogether after failing to make the initial roster. An injury to Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada got him a ticket to the game and AL manager Ned Yost has tabbed Kluber to take the mound second as the league looks to lock up home field advantage in the World Series.
His fellow starting rotation member, Danny Salazar, was selected to the team last Tuesday, but he has since bowed out of the game to rest his sore right elbow and was replaced by Chicago left-hander Jose Quintana. Indians teammate Francisco Lindor will come off of the bench for the AL at some point in the contest.
The All-Star honors were the first in the careers of all three Indians players.
The Giants were coming off a division title, and needed to upgrade its pitching staff. McDowell, who had pitched his entire career in the American League at that point, would serve as a perfect complement for Juan Marichal. Perry, a solid pitcher (who even then had a reputation as a spitballer) who ate innings, was four years older than McDowell, and to sweeten the deal, the Giants threw in shortstop Frank Duffy.
Cleveland and San Francisco agree to a blockbuster trade, as the Indians acquire Gaylord Perry and shortstop Frank Duffy for young left-hander Sam McDowell.
McDowell, the tall and lanky lefty, is entering the prime of his career. The 29-year-old was …
He had a wicked fastball, a catchy nickname and a career waylaid by alcoholism. This should sound familiar to anyone who’s ever watched an episode of “Cheers,” and the adventures of fictional Red Sox pitcher Sam “Mayday” Malone.
But the inspiration for Sam Malone was Indians pitcher “Sudden Sam” McDowell.
McDowell was signed out of Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School (whose famous athletic alumni include Dan Marino) for a whopping $85,000 bonus in 1960. He was already being touted as the next Bob Feller.