Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 65

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 – 65

There must be something in a number.

The number 65 has been worn by just four players in the 116-year history of the Cleveland Indians organization and in all four occurrences, it was donned by a pitcher. Twice it came on the backs of young starting pitchers trying to catch on at the Major League level. In the two other and more recent times, it has come on former starting pitchers who were converted to relief work late in their minor league careers.

In 2016, Joseph Colon became the second reliever in as many seasons to wear 65 on the field for the Indians, following in the footsteps of a player with a similar path to the Majors, Giovanni Soto.

Colon appeared in eleven games for the Indians over the course of that season, which included a trip to the disabled list and a return trip to the minors. He went 1-3 for Cleveland with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.90 WHIP in his first season in the Bigs after spending parts of the six previous seasons in the minors for the club. While his numbers in the Majors left something to be desired, he had strong numbers in the minors, putting up a 0.82 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP in 20 games with the Columbus Clippers after returning from a suspension to start his season.

The Puerto Rican right-hander climbed his way through the farm system after being taken in the 12th round of the 2009 draft. Previously a starter and the owner of a no-hitter while with Akron, he converted to a relief role in 2015. He lost much of his 2017 campaign to suspension and injury and is currently a minor league free agent.

Soto - Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports
Soto – Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

Soto was also selected in the 2009 draft, but was taken by the Detroit Tigers in the 21st round out of Carolina, Puerto Rico. He joined the Indians organization in 2010 as the return in the Jhonny Peralta trade. Primarily a starter in the early years of his professional career, he moved into relief work in 2013.

After making his way through the minors, the left-hander made a brief six-game appearance for the Indians in September of 2015, working three and one-third innings of scoreless baseball while allowing three hits. He did not make the club’s bullpen at the end of spring training last year and he was purchased by the Chicago Cubs, spending his entire year at Triple-A Iowa.

Following the 2016 season, he bounced around as he was claimed off of waivers by the Oakland Athletics and then by the Chicago White Sox less than two weeks later. He went to camp with the Sox and started the season in the minors before his release mid-year. He pitched with Aguilas during Dominican Winter League play after the completion of the regular season.

Before Colon and Soto wore the number 65 in Cleveland, a well-known and successful southpaw claimed it as his own during his first two seasons in the Majors on the way to a 13-year career that included a Cy Young Award with the Indians.

Cliff Lee was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the fourth round of the 2000 draft, but by 2002, the 23-year-old was a member of the Cleveland Indians as he joined Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens in relocating to the Tribe organization midseason in exchange for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew.

Lee - 2003 Topps Heritage
Lee – 2003 Topps Heritage

Lee made eleven starts over his first two seasons in the Majors with the Indians before becoming a full-time member of their starting rotation. He wore 65 in his debut season in 2002 and again for part of the 2003 season before swapping it for the number 34. He later settled in to his more familiar 31 and remained a representative of numbers in the 30’s for the rest of his career.

He would receive his first of four total All-Star nods in 2008, when he won the Cy Young Award and went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA for the Indians. He was dealt the following July to the Philadelphia Phillies and later spent time with the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers before returning to Philly.

The first to wear 65 for the Indians and the fourth to wear it in baseball history according to Baseball Reference was Jose Roman, a young right-hander out of the Dominican Republic who made his debut with the Indians at the age of 21 in 1984. He pitched in three games that season, making two starts, and lost a pair of games. He would return in each of the next two seasons for a handful of appearances, but was dealt to the New York Mets early in the 1987 season and spent that season and the following in the minors for the club before calling it a career.

Photo: Andy King/Getty Images

Related Posts

Barker’s Perfect Game in 1981 Remains Last No-No for Tribe

Today we remember Len Barker’s perfect game against the Toronto Blue Jays in 1981, the last hitless game tossed by an Indians pitcher. This story was originally…

Caldwell Gave an Electrifying Performance on the Mound for the Tribe in 1919

On the anniversary of a bizarre event in baseball history, Did The Tribe Win Last Night shares a story originally posted on August 24, 2016, by guest…

Carl Mays: My Attitude Toward the Unfortunate Chapman Matter

We continue our look back on the death of Ray Chapman on the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. This supplemental interview appeared in the November 1920 issue…

League, City Plunged into Mourning after Chapman’s Death

This story was originally published on December 26, 2014, as part of a series of stories by Did The Tribe Win Last Night’s Vince Guerrieri on the…

Tragedy Struck Tribe with Chapman Beaning

This weekend marked the anniversary of a tragic event thankfully never replicated on a Major League field. This story of the death of Ray Chapman was originally…

Don’t Call It A Comeback!

Today’s trip down memory lane takes us back to a story published on August 5, 2011, in the infancy stages of the Did The Tribe Win Last…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.