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Updates

(Cleveland Indians)

(Cleveland Indians)

2020 Season

Season Recap: The Indians had the best pitcher in baseball, Shane Bieber, and one of the game’s best clutch hitters, Jose Ramirez. The two superstars powered Cleveland to a 35–25 record, but the team could not overcome the hot hitting of the Yankees in the playoffs. They were eliminated in the longest nine-inning game is history, which lasted 4 hours, 50 minutes.

July 30, 2020: Shane Bieber set an American League record by striking out 27 batters in his first two starts of the season.

Season Preview: Infielders Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, and outfielder Franmil Reyes, lead a team expected to go deep into the playoffs. Although there is plenty of power in the batting order, the Indians will likely advance as far as their pitching takes them. Shane Bieber and Brad Hand lead a staff with good talent but with many questions that must be answered in a short 60-game season.

2019 Season

Season Preview: It has been a long time since the Indians remade their roster, and just three years since they came within a game of winning the World Series. In 2019, Cleveland fans will see a number of new faces in familiar places, but their superstar core of Corey Kluber, Brad Hand, Francisco Lindor, and Jose Ramirez is still there—and they gives the team enough of an edge to be the favorites in the AL Central.

2018 Season

Season Recap: The Indians won the AL Central with ease but ran into the red-hot Houston Astros in the playoffs, losing the ALDS in three straight. Infielders Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez had career years at the plate, becoming the first teammates to have 90-plus extra-base hits since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, in 1927. Corey Kluber won 20 games for the first time in his career, and was one of four Indians to strike out more than 200 batters—the first time in history a team accomplished this feat.

May 3, 2018: Rajai Davis became the 75th player in history to steal 400 bases.

Season Preview: Many experts picked the Indians to win he pennant last year. Many of those experts are making the same prediction in 2018. Cleveland goes into battle with the same solid lineup, led by Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, and a pitching staff headed by Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. The secret to the Tribe’s success is that every player on the roster can beat you—and often they do.

2017 Season

Season Recap: The Indians had their best regular season on more than 60 years, winning 102 games. Corey Kluber led a pitching staff that had the best ERA and the most strikeouts in the AL, while Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez powered an offense that could score runs in many different ways. Cleveland fans expected their team to return to the World Series, but the surprising Yankees defeated them 3 games to 2 in the Division Series.

September 14, 2017: The Indians defeated the Royals in extra innings to set a new AL record with 22 wins in a row

June 15, 2017: Corey Kluber became the fastest Indian to reach 1,000 strikeouts. He fanned #1,000 in his 148th game. The old record belonged to Hall of Famer Bob Feller (167 games).

2016 Season

November 1, 2016: The Indians put together one of baseball’s most consistent and balanced lineups in 2016, and the result was the team’s first pennant since the 1990s. Cleveland seemed to have a different hero every day. Corey Kluber bounced back after a poor 2015, and young stars Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Tyler Naquin and Trevor Bauer played well under pressure. The Indians looked like champs after building a 3–1 lead against the Cubs in the World Series, but ran out of gas and lost in seven games.

August 1, 2016: Outfielder Tyler Naquin was named AL Rookie of the Month for the second month in a row.

2015 Season

October 6, 2015: After a promising 2015, the Indians never rose above 3rd place in 2015. Infielders Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor had excellent seasons, while outfielder Michael Brantley tied for the AL lead with 45 doubles. Cy Young Award winner Korey Kluber went from leading the league in wins to leading the league in losses.

April 5, 2015: Cleveland’s pitching was great toward the end of 2014. The Indians need to keep it going in 2015. Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Corey Kluber give the club three talented starters. The team also needs a couple of hitters to have the kind of breakout years that Michael Brantley had last season.

2014 Season

November 15, 2014: Korey Kluber edged Felix Hernandez for the AL Cy Young Award. He is the fourth Cleveland pitcher to win the award. The first three were Gaylord Perry (1972), CC Sabathia (2007) & Cliff Lee (2008).

November 1, 2014: The Indians had a good year, but never strung together enough wins to grab first place in the AL Central. Cleveland got great years out of pitcher Corey Kluber, catcher Yan Gomes, and outfielder Michael Brantley—three young leaders who can push the team back into the playoff picture in the years to come.

September 26, 2014: Corey Kluber struck out 11 Tampa Bay Rays to help the Indians set a new record with 1,431 strikeouts in a season. Kluber tied for the league lead with 18 wins.

July 30, 2014: Corey Kluber faced just 28 batters in a win against the Mariners. Six days earlier, he faced only 28 batters in a victory over the Royals. Kluber was the first pitcher ever to face 28 batters in back-to-back nine-inning games.

July 27, 2014: Danny Salazar fanned Nori Aoki of the Royals to record the two millionth strikeout in major league history.

March 31, 2014: The Indians were one of the best stories in baseball in 2013. Much will depend on their three young hitting stars—Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis—and new closer John Axford. The team’s pitching was very good last year thanks to starters Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, but Kazmir is now in Oakland and Jimenez is now an Oriole. If flamethrower Danny Salazar steps up in 2014 to join ace Justin Masterson, it could still be a very interesting season in Cleveland.

2013 Season

October 1, 2013: Cleveland was one of baseball’s brightest surprises in 2013. New manager Terry Francona made his players believe they could win any game, and the Indians went on to log 92 victories. The team’s bright spots included second baseman Jason Kipnis and catcher Carlos Santana, along with pitchers Justin Masterson, and Ubaldo Jimenez. The Indians earned a Wild Card berth, but fell 4–0 to Tampa Bay in the playoff game.

March 30, 2013: Cleveland fans know they must be patient as the team rebuilds, but there is hope for a winning season in 2013. New manager Terry Francona leads a young team that has added veteran newcomers Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher into battle. But success now and in the future will probably depend on the improvement of Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Justin Masterson, and Lonnie Chisenhall.

2012 Season

October 3, 2012: The Indians fell short of their goals in 2012, mainly because of the struggles of their starting pitchers. Big things were expected of Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, and Josh Tomlin, but they won only 25 games with an ERA well over 5.00. The bright spots for the tribe were second baseman Jason Kipnis—who became a star in his first full year with Cleveland— and Shin-Choo Soo, who is now one of the top right fielders in baseball.

April, 2012: With the addition of veteran Derek Lowe, the Indians have a pretty good pitching staff in 2012. But a lot will depend on their young hitters, including Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenall.

More Go-To Guys

This picture of Joe Jackson was inserted in a 1911 issue of The Sporting News. (The Sporting News)

This card of Earl Averill is from 1939. I also have a card of his son, Earl Jr., who was a catcher in the 1950s and 1960s. (Gum Inc.)

The headline on this magazine says it all: “Faster than Koufax?” In the days before the radar gun, many scouts said McDowell was. (Time Inc./Sports Illustrated)

Why Joe Carter isn’t in the Hall of Fame is beyond me. I think he’ll get in soon. (Author’s Collection)

Grady Sizemore plays so hard that he often gets hurt. I hope he has a healthy 2012 season. He’s a lot of fun to watch. (Author’s Collection)

  • Addie Joss — Pitcher
    Born: 4/12/1880
    Died: 4/14/1911
    Played for Team: 1902 to 1910
    Addie Joss started what he finished. He threw complete games in 90 percent of his starts. Cleveland fans were shocked when Joss fell ill and died in the spring of 1911. He ended his career with a 1.89 ERA—the second-lowest in history to Ed Walsh of the Chicago White Sox.

  • Joe Jackson — Outfielder
    Born: 7/16/1887
    Died: 12/5/1951
    Played for Team: 1910 to 1915
    Joe Jackson called his bat “Black Betsy.” Opponents called it a lot of other things. Jackson set a record that still stands when he batted .408 as a Cleveland rookie. He led the league in hits the next two years and batted .375 overall during his six seasons with the Indians.

  • Tris Speaker — Outfielder
    Born 4/4/1888
    Died: 12/8/1958
    Played for Team: 1916 to 1926
    Tris Speaker was the highest-paid player in baseball when he played for the Indians. He batted over .350 in all but one of his seasons in Cleveland and led the team to victory in the 1920 World Series as a player-manager.

  • Earl Averill — Outfielder
    Born: 5/21/1902
    Died: 8/16/1983
    Played for Team: 1929 to 1939
    Few players hit the ball harder or farther than Earl Averill. He topped 30 homers for the Indians three times and knocked in 100 runs five times. Averill led the AL with 232 hits in 1936 and played in each of baseball’s first six All-Star Games.

  • Early Wynn — Pitcher
    Born: 1/6/1920
    Died: 4/4/1999
    Played for Team: 1949 to 1957 & 1963
    Early Wynn had a good fastball and little else when he joined the Indians in 1949. Pitching coach Mel Harder taught him how to master the curveball and change-up, and Wynn blossomed into a star. He was a 20-game winner four times for Cleveland.

  • Rocky Colavito — Outfielder
    Born: 8/10/1933
    Played for Team: 1955 to1959 & 1965 to 1967
    Rocky Colavito had one of the strongest arms of any outfielder in baseball, but it was his bat that more often brought fans to their feet. He was the first Indian to top 40 homers twice, and in 1959 he belted four in one game against the Baltimore Orioles. Cleveland fans were sad when he was traded away the following season, but Colavito returned to the team in 1965 and led the league in RBIs.

  • Sam McDowell — Pitcher
    Born: 9/21/1942
    Played for Team: 1961 to 1971
    The ball arrived at home plate so quickly when Sam McDowell threw it that he was nicknamed “Sudden Sam.” He led the AL in strikeouts five times, including 325 in 1965. In four All-Star appearances, McDowell struck out 12 of baseball’s best batters in just 8 innings.

  • Andre Thornton — First baseman/Designated Hitter
    Born: 8/13/1949
    Played for Team: 1977 to 1987
    Andre Thornton was the best player on a poor Indians ball cub in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was one of baseball’s finest power hitters, yet he rarely swung at a bad pitch. Thornton had three 30-homer seasons for the Indians and finished his career in Cleveland with 685 walks and only 683 strikeouts.

  • Joe Carter — Outfielder
    Born: 3/7/1960
    Played for Team 1984 to 1989
    Joe Carter was a complete hitter. He hit for power and average, and was at his best with runners on base. Carter also was an excellent baserunner. He led the league in RBIs in 1986.

  • Kenny Lofton — Outfielder
    Born: 5/31/1967
    Played for Team: 1992 to 1996, 1998 to 2001, & 2007
    When the Indians got Kenny Lofton from the Houston Astros, it turned out to be one of the great trades in team history. Lofton went on to lead the AL in stolen bases five years in a row. He was an All-Star six times for the Indians and was among the AL’s Top 5 hitters in 1993 and 1994.

  • Victor Martinez—  Catcher
    Born: 12/23/1978
    Played for Team: 2002 to 2009
    Victor Martinez was one of baseball’s premier slugging catchers with the Indians. He set new standards for Cleveland catchers with 25 home runs and 114 RBIs in 2007. In a 2004 game, Martinez had three homers, two singles and a walk.

  • Grady Sizemore — Outfielder
    Born: 8/2/1982
    Played for Team: 2004 to 2012
    The Indians traded one of their best players to get Grady Sizemore. They wanted someone who could win games in many different ways, and they were not disappointed. Sizemore had four seasons in a row of 20 homers and 20 steals beginning in 2005. He led the AL in runs and doubles in 2006 and won Gold Gloves for his defense in 2007 and 2008.

More Fun Facts

Can you imagine going 15–0 and then losing your last game? To make matters worse, Johnny Allen lost that game 1–0, and the only run was unearned—the result of an error. (Goudey Gum Co.)

  • FIFTH INFIELDER
    Tris Speaker was famous for playing very shallow in center field. In 1918, he made two unassisted double plays for the Indians, rushing in to snag line drives and then touching second base before the runner could get back. Speaker also covered second base on bunts.

  • MY NAME IS EARL
    Earl Averill was the first Indian to hit a homer in his first big-league at bat. He was also the first major leaguer to hit four home runs in a doubleheader.

  • ALMOST PERFECT
    Johnny Allen’s record stood at 15–0 on the final day of the 1937 season. He pitched and lost to finish the year at 15–1.

  • START TALKING
    When Jack Graney retired from the Indians as a player in 1922, he began announcing their games on radio. Graney was the first person in sports to go from the playing field to the broadcast booth.

  • WYNN–WIN SITUATION
    After Early Wynn retired form the Indians as a player, he joined the team as a coach. He taught Sam McDowell, Luis Tiant, Sonny Siebert, and Steve Hargan what he had learned, and in 1967 Cleveland set a new record with 1,189 strikeouts.

  • THE RIGHT STUFF
    In 1965, Rocky Colavito played the entire year in right field without making a single bad play. He became the first AL outfielder ever to record an errorless season.

  • STANDING ROOM ONLY
    From 1995 to 2001, the Indians sold out 455 games in a row. No team had ever done that before.

League Leaders

This is a cool tag that came with a Lew Fonseca model baseball mitt. Fonseca actually was known more for his bat than his glove. (Author’s Collection)

Al Rosen suffered from back problems near the end of his career. Had he stayed healthy, he might have been a Hall of Famer. (Author’s Collection)

This Elmer Flick postcard was part of a set that came out in the early 1970s in several series. I remember saving my allowance to buy each series as it came out. (TCMA Ltd.)

Early Wynn was known for making hitters back away from home plate by throwing close to their bodies. They used to say Wynn would knock his grandmother down if she were standing too close to the plate! (Macfadden Publishing)

They call 1968 the “Year of the Pitcher,” but even during that season, Luis Tiant’s 1.60 ERA was something else! I met him years later, when he pitched for the New York Yankees. Tiant doesn’t look it in this photo, but he was a funny guy. (Author’s Collection)

  • Home Runs
    1950 — Al Rosen — 37
    1952 — Larry Doby — 32
    1953 — Al Rosen — 43
    1954 — Larry Doby — 32
    1959 — Rocky Colavito — 42
    1995 — Albert Belle — 50

  • Batting Average
    1903 — Napoleon Lajoie — .344
    1904 — Napoleon Lajoie — .376
    1905 — Elmer Flick — .308
    1910 — Napoleon Lajoie — .384
    1916 — Tris Speaker — .386
    1929 — Lew Fonseca — .369
    1944 — Lou Boudreau — .327
    1954 — Bobby Avila — .341

  • Runs Batted In
    1904 — Napoleon Lajoie — 102
    1936 — Hal Trosky — 162
    1952 — Al Rosen — 105
    1953 — Al Rosen — 145
    1954 — Larry Doby — 126
    1965 — Rocky Colavito — 108
    1986 — Joe Carter — 121
    1993 — Albert Belle — 129
    1995 — Albert Belle — 126
    1996 — Albert Belle — 148
    1999 — Manny Ramirez — 165

  • Stolen Bases
    1903 — Harry Bay — 45
    1904 — Harry Bay & Elmer Flick — 38
    1906 — Elmer Flick — 39
    1946 — George Case — 28
    1992 — Kenny Lofton — 66
    1993 — Kenny Lofton — 70
    1994 — Kenny Lofton — 60
    1995 — Kenny Lofton — 54
    1996 — Kenny Lofton — 75
    2016 — Rajai Davis — 43

  • Wins
    1907 — Addie Joss — 27
    1920 — Jim Bagby — 31
    1923 — George Uhle — 26
    1926 — George Uhle — 27
    1939 — Bob Feller — 24
    1940 — Bob Feller — 27
    1941 — Bob Feller — 25
    1946 — Bob Feller — 26
    1947 — Bob Feller — 20
    1950 — Bob Lemon — 23
    1951 — Bob Feller — 22
    1954 — Bob Lemon & Early Wynn — 23
    1955 — Bob Lemon — 18
    1960 — Jim Perry — 18
    1972 — Gaylord Perry — 24
    2008 — Cliff Lee — 22
    2014 — Corey Kluber — 18*
    2017 — Corey Kluber — 18*
    2017 — Carlos Carrasco — 18*
    2020 — Shane Bieber — 8

    • Tied with two other players

  • Strikeouts
    1920 — Stan Coveleski — 133
    1938 — Bob Feller — 240
    1939 — Bob Feller — 246
    1940 — Bob Feller — 261
    1941 — Bob Feller — 260
    1943 — Allie Reynolds — 151
    1946 — Bob Feller — 348
    1947 — Bob Feller — 196
    1948 — Bob Feller — 164
    1950 — Bob Lemon — 170
    1955 — Herb Score — 245
    1956 — Herb Score — 263
    1957 — Early Wynn — 184
    1965 — Sam McDowell — 325
    1966 — Sam McDowell — 225
    1968 — Sam McDowell — 283
    1969 — Sam McDowell — 279
    1970 — Sam McDowell — 304
    1980 — Len Barker — 187
    1981 — Len Barker — 127*
    2020 — Shane Bieber — 122

    * The 1981 season was shortened by a labor dispute.

  • Earned Run Average
    1903 — Earl Moore — 1.74
    1904 — Addie Joss — 1.59
    1908 — Addie Joss — 1.16
    1911 — Vean Gregg — 1.80
    1923 — Stan Coveleski — 2.76
    1933 — Mel Harder — 2.95
    1940 — Bob Feller — 2.61
    1948 — Gene Bearden — 2.43
    1949 — Mike Garcia — 2.36
    1950 — Early Wynn — 3.20
    1954 — Mike Garcia — 2.64
    1965 — Sam McDowell — 2.18
    1968 — Luis Tiant — 1.60
    1982 — Rick Sutcliffe — 2.96
    2005 — Kevin Millwood — 2.86
    2008 — Cliff Lee — 2.54
    2017 — Corey Kluber — 2.38
    2020 — Shane Bieber — 1.63

Indians In The World Series

This ticket stub is from the last time the Indians were world champions. (Author’s Collection)

YEAR OPPONENT RESULT
1920 Brooklyn Robins Won 5–2
1948 Boston Braves Won 4–2
1954 New York Giants Lost 4–0
1995 Atlanta Braves Lost 4–2
1997 Florida Marlins Lost 4–3

The Cleveland Spiders

This is a reprint of a team picture of the 1891 Cleveland Spiders. I wonder what would happen if you named a pro team “Spiders” today. Would the mascot have eight legs? (Author’s Collection)

The Indians were Cleveland’s second big-league team. The first club played in the National League and was called the Spiders. During the 1890s, the Spiders were the roughest, rowdiest team in baseball. They were also one of the best, thanks to pitcher Cy Young. In nine years with the Spiders (1890 to 1898), Young won 241 games. The Spiders won the NL pennant in 1893, 1894, and 1897. Their top players included Ed McKean, Cupid Childs, Patsy Tebeau, and Jesse Burkett.

In 1899, the owners of the Spiders bought the St. Louis club that also played in the NL. They transferred their best players to that team, leaving the Spiders with almost no chance of winning. The Spiders lost 134 games and did not field a team in 1900. One year later, the American League moved into Cleveland—and the Indians have been there ever since.

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