It’s not an uncommon occurrence to see two inductees in the same year who have played all or part of their careers with the Indians (prior to this year, it last happened in 2011, with Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven). Rarer still is three inductees from the Indians. That only happened once, in 1937, when Cy Young, Napoleon Lajoie and Tris Speaker were inducted in the second class.
But in 1963, three former players were inducted with ties to Cleveland baseball – all of whom played at League Park.
That year, only the veterans committee voted, and the inductees included Elmer Flick, Sam Rice and John Clarkson. Flick and Rice both played for the Indians, but Clarkson, a posthumous inductee, ended his career more than 70 years earlier with the Cleveland Spiders.
But Rice, a Hall of Famer that was part of three pennant-winning Senators teams, including the 1924 World Champions, ended his career with the Indians – largely due to the intercession of the Big Train himself.
Rice had come late to the game, sidetracked by unspeakable tragedy. In 1912, while he was trying to latch on as a pitcher with a minor-league team in nearby Galesburg, a tornado struck his family home in Morocco, Indiana, killing his wife, children, mother, and two sisters. Rice returned to Morocco in time for all the funerals, and his father died shortly thereafter as well.