As the Indians started spring training in 1917, there seemed to be a feeling of adjustment.
The previous season had been littered with moves, from a new owner, Jim Dunn, to the acquisition of center fielder Tris Speaker from the Red Sox. The Indians had gone 77-77, a 20-game improvement from the previous season, and the feeling was that the pieces were in place for a run at the pennant.
But the Indians made one significant change in spring training in 1917 that had repercussions not for them, but throughout Major League Baseball.
The Cleveland Indians purchase first baseman Chick Gandil from the Washington Senators for $7,500.
Expendable with first base prospect Joe Judge coming off of a .415 effort in his debut in 1915, Gandil had hit .291 with 64 RBI in …
In 1916, Cleveland Indians owner Charles Somers was looking for someone – anyone – to buy his team.
Somers bought into the American League when it was founded as a major league in 1901. In addition to the team then called the Blues, he also owned Boston’s American League club – ultimately divesting of it in 1908 – and floated loans to the St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Athletics.
Somers also owned several minor league teams, including the Toledo Mud Hens, which he moved to Cleveland in 1914 to forestall a Federal League team from playing in League Park. The Federal League had operated as a minor league in 1913, but was going to challenge Major League Baseball’s supremacy starting the next year.