1874 – Nap Lajoie is born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
One of the early legends of baseball, Lajoie spent 21 years playing professionally over the course of his Hall of Fame career. He began his Major League playing days in 1896 with the Philadelphia Phillies and would jump to the Athletics of the American League in 1901 with the opportunity to make more money with Connie Mack. An injunction filed by the Phillies would prevent his play in the city of Philadelphia and he was allowed to leave the A’s, joining the Bronchos in Cleveland.
The popular and talented second baseman would hit .379 in his first season with Cleveland and would lead the league in hitting each of the next two seasons and again in 1910. He took over managerial duties for the team, named the Naps in his honor in 1903, while a still a star performer on the field and continued in that capacity into the 1909 season. In 13 years in Cleveland, he hit a combined .339.
After a down season for him in 1914, he was purchased back by the Athletics, where he wrapped up his big league career with two years in the city where his professional career began. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as part of its second class in 1937, joined by fellow Cleveland playing legends Tris Speaker and Cy Young.
Also on this date in Tribe history:
1920 – One of the heroes of the 1948 Indians World Series winning team, Gene Bearden, is born.
1921 – Elmer Smith hits two homers in game one of a doubleheader against St. Louis and leads off the second game with another to give him a Major League record seven consecutive extra bases hits over three games.
1960 – One-time Indians outfielder Candy Maldonado is born.
1977 – With a doubleheader sweep of the Yankees, the Indians end a 13-game losing skid against New York.
1987 – Former Indians reliever Scott Barnes is born.
2014 – It took ten innings, but the Indians walk off victorious on a bases loaded single to center by “Good Guy” David Murphy as Cleveland defeats the Chicago White Sox.