If you were away from Did the Tribe Win Last Night at any point in the last week, shame on you, but welcome back! Here are some links to bring you back up to speed.
Offseason coverage officially began after the final game recap of the season, a 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox.
April 19, 1948
When the Indians take the field tomorrow afternoon to open the 1948 season, Mel Harder will begin the season in the same place he has every year since 1937 – on the bench. However, this year it likely will be a different feeling than he’s ever felt before, yet one he has demonstrated comfort in for years.
If number 18 strides to the mound tomorrow, it won’t be in relief of Indians ace Bob Feller, it will be to offer advice or talk strategy. After 20 seasons in an Indians uniform, this year Harder no longer is on the active roster; he is in his first year as the Tribe’s pitching coach.
With the Cleveland Indians in town this weekend, the New York Yankees are eliminating two more numbers from the already long list of digits never to be worn again by the storied Major League franchise.
Saturday, the Yankees retired the number 20 worn by longtime catcher Jorge Posada in a ceremony prior to the game, a 6-2 win by the hometown team. On Sunday, left-handed pitcher Andy Pettitte will join him, with a large number of wins aiding his cause and admitted HGH use driving those against such an honor. In total, the Sunday addition of Pettitte’s 46 will make 22 numbers retired by the Yankee franchise, with the inevitable retirement of the number two of Derek Jeter removing each of the first ten numbers from use by future Bronx Bombers.
The Indians, meanwhile, have not retired the number of one of their own players since June 20th, 1998, when the number 21, worn by Bob Lemon, joined the short list on the walls at then Jacobs Field. Since then, only the number 455 has been retired, done so on April 22nd, 2001, to honor the consecutive sellout streak set by the franchise and their fans from June 12th, 1995, to April 2nd, 2001.
Are the Yankees too quick to honor their players of yesteryear with one of the ultimate forms of recognition? Or is there such a steep drop off between the caliber of players to sport pinstripes versus those who toiled in mediocrity for the majority of the history of the Indians franchise?
He had one victory in his major league pitching career, but Cy Slapnicka was a baseball lifer.
Slapnicka spent a decade as a pitcher in the minor leagues, and five years as general manager for the Indians, but he’s probably best known as a scout. Much of the talent assembled by the Indians in the 1940s and 1950s was done at his direction, but his greatest find was another pitcher from Iowa, Bob Feller.
Mel Harder and the Cleveland Indians are virtually inseparable.
Harder spent 20 years as a pitcher for the Indians – only Walter Johnson had spent more consecutive years pitching for one team – and an additional 15 as a coach. …
Mel Harder, who spent all 20 of his Major League seasons as a pitcher in a Cleveland Indians uniform, passes away five days after celebrating his 93rd birthday.
Harder was a four-time American League All-Star and won as many as 22 games in …
The second All-Star Game, in 1934, has gone down in baseball lore as the Midsummer Classic that saw the Giants’ Carl Hubbell set down Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in the first and second innings.
As impressive as that performance was, Hubbell didn’t get the win before the home fans at the Polo Grounds. In fact, the National League lost 9-7. The winning pitcher for the American League ended up being the Indians’ Mel Harder.
Harder broke into the majors in 1928 as a relief pitcher for the Tribe. Two years later, he was part of the starting rotation, and Harder was the starter for the first Indians game at Municipal Stadium (he took the loss, as the Athletics, behind Lefty Grove, won 1-0).
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball will conduct its 85th All-Star Game, this one taking place for the first time at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Cleveland Indians have been well represented over the years in the exhibition, first started in 1933 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The Indians had three players on that first American League roster – pitchers Wes Ferrell and Oral Hildebrand and outfielder Earl Averill. Neither pitcher made it into the game for AL manager Connie Mack, but Averill entered the game as a pinch-hitter for pitcher General Crowder in the bottom of the sixth and delivered an RBI-single to score shortstop Joe Cronin with the final run of a 4-2 AL victory.
Averill would make six straight All-Star teams, but his Indians record for most All-Star appearances in a Cleveland jersey would be short-lived. Bob Feller would string together a total of eight trips to the Midsummer Classic, passing Averill with his appearance during the 1948 season before adding one more in 1950.