This Thursday, the Alabama Secretary of State is expected to certify the results of the Dec. 12 special election, paving the way next week for Doug Jones to be sworn into the U.S. Senate.
No, not that Doug Jones. But I certainly can’t blame you for thinking that. I did – and I was hardly alone.
I generally try not to reveal my age to others in any facet of my life, but in composing the following, I had to tip my hand a bit.
This week marks 28 years (!) since the Cleveland Indians dealt fan favorite Joe Carter to the San Diego Padres for two prospects and a bit of a veteran journeyman. It would be the start of great things for the Indians organization – something seldom experienced when a perennial basement-dwelling team trades away its most productive player – but it reshaped my understanding of the game of baseball and made a decade of losing worth it during the glory years of the ’90’s.
With the election this past week of Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza to the Hall of Fame, it is an opportune time to ask the question – who should the Cleveland Indians consider honoring at Progressive Field?
Seven former Indians players have been previously honored, either in number or statue or both. Four have had their uniform number retired – Earl Averill, Lou Boudreau, Mel Harder and Bob Lemon. Jim Thome has a statue in his honor, and both Bob Feller and Larry Doby have been memorialized with both a statue and their number retired. What is significant is that of these seven stars of Cleveland Indians history, only Thome played in a single game after the 1958 season. Therefore it is time to consider some players of the more recent eras to be honored at Progressive Field.
Sometimes making a change that can be tough to swallow initially can eventually work out for the best. For former Indians reliever Doug Jones, a switch out of the starting rotation ended up turning him into one of the most effective closers that baseball has ever seen.
Jones started his long career as a young starting pitcher in the Milwaukee Brewers organization after being drafted in the third round of the 1978 amateur draft. He worked through multiple seasons in the minor leagues finding only mixed successes and failures. Jones was called up briefly in the 1982 season and only spent only four games with the Brewers before being sent back down to the minors for what turned out to be another four seasons. After becoming a free agent and signing on with the Cleveland Indians in 1985, Jones made a tough career-altering turn by switching from the starting rotation to the back end of the bullpen.
“That change happened in the minor leagues when I came from the Brewers to the Indians,” Jones recalled. “It was basically take whatever role they would give me and make it work somehow.”