Tribe Fest Provides Fans Relief From Winter Doldrums

A little bit of cold in the air, construction work all around, and plenty of snow covering the field at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario could not keep the legions of baseball fans in Cleveland from coming to the Indians’ home on Saturday to celebrate life as a Tribe fan.

The third annual Tribe Fest is well under way, with the Friday night VIP session and two of the three weekend public sessions in the books already. As with the previous two years, fans came out of their winter hibernations to soak in an opportunity to see some of their favorite Indians, past and present, and representatives from the front office and broadcasting team in a unique chance to rub elbows with some of the stars of the game.

The remodeling project in center and right field were visible for many fans with their own eyes for the first time as they entered the ballpark through the Gate A entrance by the Terrace Club and Home Run Porch. From there, fans were ushered into the seldom seen underbelly of the twenty-year old gem to see what goes on underneath one of the jewels of Cleveland.

Once settled, fans had a slew of options, regardless of age.

For the younger fans in attendance, the batting cages presented an opportunity to pitch and throw and complete drills. Video games, bounce houses, haircuts, and a giant “Operation” board game were available to play. Familiar Indians mascots, including Slider, Ketchup, Mustard, Onion, and Key Tunes, wandered the festivities.

For fans of all ages, photo ops, autographs, caricature art, and honorary contracts were the norm. The clubhouses were open for fans to walk through to see where the players work out, rehab, and rest up. A game of “Tribe Feud” was a portion of the first session, pitting two mixed teams comprised of Cody Allen, Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley, Nick Swisher, and four fans against one another. Multiple question and answer sessions took place on the Key Bank main stage with various groupings of players, including legends Sandy Alomar, Paul Assenmacher, Dennis Martinez, and Charles Nagy from the 1995 American League Champion Indians team with radio voice Jim Rosenhaus. Others, including but not limited to general manager Chris Antonetti, manager Terry Francona, and players Carlos Carrasco, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Bryan Shaw, and Zach Walters, had their opportunity on center stage.

Ballpark fare, including hot dogs, pretzels, and cotton candy, were available to help give fans a taste of the months ahead.

The Indians also announced their promotions schedule for the coming season.

Eleven fireworks nights, five replica jerseys, and four bobbleheads highlight the 2015 giveaways. Fifteen dates are listed as Sugardale Dollar Dog days.

The jerseys will honor a pair of representatives from the championship teams of the 1990s – former manager Mike Hargrove and catcher (and current first base coach) Alomar. The late Bob Feller and the World Champion 1948 Indians will be recognized, as well as the 1975 season jersey and current catcher Yan Gomes. The club also will give away a one-of-a-kind t-shirt in August designed by the local GV Art + Design.

Starting in June, there will be one bobblehead given away each month, showcasing Corey Kluber and his Cy Young Award in June, Carlos Santana in July, Brantley in August, and Francona and his red scooter in September. A replica of the Larry Doby statue, set to debut in late July, will also be given out.

Sunday will conclude the weekend event with a 10 AM to 3 PM operating time. Team president Mark Shapiro, Vice President Andrew Miller, pitching coach Mickey Callaway, and other yet-to-be-announced players will engage the fans on the main stage, hosted by the Indians Radio Network’s Tom Hamilton and Rosenhaus. Hamilton will also return to the stage to talk with Terry Pluto about their book “Glory Days in Tribe Town”, which chronicled the Indians’ run from 1994 to 1997.

Plenty of fun can still be had if you have not made your way down to Progressive Field this weekend. Barring a far more expensive trip to Arizona to hide from the northeast Ohio snowflakes in February and March, this may be your last and best opportunity to see some of the Tribe’s representatives before they return to their renovated home on April 10th when they host the hated Detroit Tigers.

Photo: Bob Toth/

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