Rocco “Rocky” Colavito is born in New York, New York.
After attending Teddy Roosevelt High School, the Cleveland Indians signed Colavito as an amateur free agent in 1951. He will work his way up through the team’s farm system, putting up strong power numbers, before debuting in five games in 1955. He burst onto the scene the following season, finishing in a tie with Baltimore’s Tito Francona for second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .276 with 21 homers and 65 RBI over 101 games for the Tribe. His legend will continue to grow as he hits 25 homers the next year and then 41 while hitting .303 in 1958 and finishing third in the AL MVP voting.
In 1959, he became an All-Star for the first time and finished the season with a league-leading 42 homers and 111 RBI, again finishing among the top vote-getters for the MVP award. Despite the strong season and being one of the more popular players to spend time in an Indians uniform, general manager Frank Lane opted to trade him to Detroit for Harvey Kuenn.
Colavito hit 35 homers in his first year in Michigan in 1960 before making a pair of All-Star teams in 1961 and 1962. He played in every game in the ’61 season and hit 45 homers, drove in 140 runs, and walked 113 times, all career highs. He was dealt to the Kansas City Athletics following the 1963 season and returned to Cleveland for two and a half seasons the next year.
His 14-year career would come to a conclusion in 1968 after stops with the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Yankees.
Also on this date in Tribe history:
2001 – Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau passes away at the age of 84. He spent 13 seasons in Cleveland from 1938 to 1950 as both a player and a manager. He won the MVP award while guiding the Indians to a World Series title in 1948.