Today in Tribe History: March 6, 1990

Joe Sewell, a longtime infielder in Cleveland starting with his successful debut with the World Champion Indians squad of 1920, passes away in Mobile, Alabama. He was 91.

Sewell began his Hall of Fame career after tragedy befell the Indians organization. He had the unenviable task of replacing mainstay shortstop Ray Chapman, who died after being struck in the head by a pitch against the New York Yankees during the 1920 season.

Sewell made the best of his opportunity, hitting .329 in 22 games while securing his spot on the club for the next eleven seasons. He hit .320 during his Cleveland career, including a high water mark of .353 in 1923 (when he also set a career-high with 109 RBI, 98 walks, and a .456 on-base percentage). He struck out just 114 times in his career, once every 62.6 at bats, making him the most difficult batter to strike out in the history of Major League Baseball.

He was released by the Indians on January 20, 1931, and signed with the New York Yankees several days later. He spent three years in the Big Apple before working a pair of seasons with the club as a coach. He later spent eleven seasons scouting for the Indians and one with the New York Mets before leading the University of Alabama baseball team.

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