History of Cleveland Baseball
is Game 7 of the ALCS. The Red Sox are leading 3-2 in the top of the seventh.
Kenny Lofton is on second thanks to an error by shortstop Julio Lugo. Franklin
Gutierrez hits a shot down the third base line. It ricochets off the wall into
short left center where Manny Ramirez picks it up. Kenny Lofton is held at
third for fear of being thrown out at home. Casey Blake, one of the best clutch
hitters in the league steps in. He hits into an inning ending double play. Can
the Tribe come back in the late innings and pull off a Game 7 victory and make
it to the World Series for the first time in ten years?
Cleveland has a long
and rich baseball history dating all the way back to 1869. Cleveland’s early
years range from the worst in baseball to the best in baseball. Cleveland
baseball teams have won two World Series Championships: 1927 and 1948. However
the Curse of Rocky Colavito has kept them from another championship ring for
sixty years, the second longest unbroken championship drought in baseball. The
future of the Cleveland Indians is bright and filled with rising stars.
early years of Cleveland baseball saw baseball in Cleveland rise from the worst
to the best. Cleveland’s owner sent its best players, including Cy Young, to
St. Louis to popularize baseball there causing the Cleveland Spiders to achieve
the worst record in baseball history, 20-134. In 1901 Ben Johnson, the creator
of the American League, founded his league and created a team in Cleveland
making the Cleveland Indians one of the four charter members of the American
League. Early Cleveland stars included Napoleon Lajoie, giving the team their
first nickname The Naps, Addie Joss, and Joe Jackson of Black Sox Scandal fame.
Cy Young returned to Cleveland in 1909 to finish his career where he got his
start. After the 1914 season the nickname Indians was chosen for the team.
Indians have won two World Series Championships in their history. They have
been to the postseason ten times throughout their history. In 1920 the Indians
played the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series.
They beat the Dodgers five games to two. The road to the Series was a tough
one. The shortstop of the Indians was fatally hit by a pitch while playing the
Yankees in August. Joe Sowell replaced him and began his own All Star career. The
Indians’ Elmer Smith hit the first grand slam in World Series history in game
5. The Indians won their next World Series in 1948. They beat the Boston Braves
in six games. The Indians led the league in batting average, earned run average,
and fielding percentage in the 1948 season. The road to the World Series included
a historic one game playoff for the pennant against the Boston Red Sox.
Indians have not won another World Series in over sixty years giving them the
second longest unbroken Championship drought in baseball behind only the Cubs.
Like the Cubs the Indians have a curse which has supposedly kept World Series
wins from them, the Curse of Rocky Colavito. Colavito was one of the Indians’
top young players in 1955. In 1960 Frank Lane, the Indians new manager, traded
Colavito to the Indians’ biggest rival, the Detroit Tigers. To this day Frank
Lane’s name makes Indians’ fans cringe. Since, the Indians have faced years of
losing seasons and have yet to win the World Series. From 1960- 1993 the Indians
had only finished third or lower in their division except for one year in 1968.
They reached the World Series for the first time since 1954 in 1995 and lost.
They also lost in 1997. Some believe trading Joe Carter for Carlos Berraega is
the trade that finally broke the curse. Since that trade the Indians have
experienced mild success but have still not won a World Series. In my opinion
trading Bartolo Colon for Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee was the trade that broke
the curse. Grady Sizemore has very similar popularity to Rocky Colavito and
many say he, like they said of Colavito, is what a baseball player should be.
Indians have experienced tragedies with many of their most important players. Sam
McDowell was a great pitcher who could not control his alcohol problem. Tony
Horton was a great first baseman who could not handle the pressures of baseball
and had a mental breakdown that took him out of baseball forever. Four of the
Indians best pitchers were lost in a tragic boating accident in 1993. Two were
killed, one was seriously injured, and one was too emotionally unstable to
continue to pitch for the Indians. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds to help
him endure the loss of his best friend.
The Cleveland Indians’ future looks
bright despite 2008’s struggles with the
emergence of young, rising stars. The 2008 season marked a year of struggle and
disappointment for the Indians. The Indians’ designated hitter, Travis Hafner,
and star catcher,
Victor Martinez, were sidelined early with injuries. Without the bats of Hafner
and Martinez the Indians had trouble adjusting and could not get their offense
going. With the exception of Cliff Lee the Indians pitchers suffered without
the foundation of a strong bullpen and starter Jake Westbrook who was out for the
season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Midseason saw the Indians trade
away their Cy Young Award
winner CC Sabathia to the Brewers. Despite being last in the division the
Indians climbed to third in the division with an 81-81 record during the second
half of the
The Indians’ 2009 season will rest on their young talent. Grady Sizemore is the Indians’ centerfielder. He has been to three
consecutive All Star Games. He has won two consecutive Gold Glove Awards. In
2008 he won his first Silver Slugger Award. In 2008 he also became only the
second Indians player and sixth American League player to steal thirty bases
and hit thirty home runs in one season. He is incredibly humble and shy and
shuns the spotlight and is consequently believed by experts to be one of the
most underrated players in the game. Cliff Lee is the Indians staff ace. In
2007 Lee battled through injury issues and never found his rhythm. Last season
he came back and won twenty-two games and lost only three to become the
American League Cy Young Award winner. Many experts pick the Indians to win the
American League Central in 2009 and many have them finally winning a World
Series as well.
In Cleveland baseball’s early years Cleveland saw the worst
team in baseball grow into the best. The nickname of Indians was also chosen
during this time. In 1920 and 1948 the Indians won the only two championships
the franchise has ever won. In 1960 the Curse of Rocky Colavito is said to have
taken affect and has allegedly kept the Indians from winning a Championship since.
Although 2008 saw the Indians stumble the Indians appear to have bright future
with young stars like Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee.
So did the Indians manage
to come back and beat the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2007 ALCS? Well in the bottom of the seventh Rafael
Betancourt comes on in relief of Jake Westbrook. Casey Blake makes an error
allowing Jacoby Ellsbury to get on base and bringing Dustin Pedroia up to bat.
Betancourt gives up a two run home run to Pedroia giving the Red Sox a five to
two lead to end the seventh. The Indians were unable to figure out Boston’s
closer Jonathan Papelbon in the next two innings but the Red Sox managed to
score six more runs to give the Red Sox the eleven to two win and send them to
the World Series. However these struggles have not kept Cleveland fans from believing,
“It’s Tribe time in 2009!”
Terry Pluto The Curse of Rocky Colavito
Mike Sowell The Pitch that Killed
Indinas History from Indians.com
T.R. Sullivan “Indians Short Hops: Game 7 ALCS”
Indians from Goodyear, Arizona: 30 Clubs in 30 Days.
2) Life Magazine
3) Baseball Almanac