A Salute to Baseball’s Greatest Number…

…as chosen by me.

Growing up, Cory Snyder was my favorite player. His Gunsmoke poster hung above my bed and it was a proud day when his number 28 was heat-pressed onto my replica Indians jersey. In elementary school baseball, I could not wear 28 because our numbers stopped at 15. I chose number 2 because it was half of 28…and one of our best players already had 8. So to me, the number 28 epitomizes excellence in baseball. So as we have just recently embarked on a new season, I thought we could honor those who wear BASEBALL’S GREATEST NUMBER. Here’s a list of all the number 28s to appear on Opening Day rosters…

Angels- Raul Ibanez Outfielder

Astros- L.J. Hoes Outfielder

Athletics- Eric Sogard Infielder

Blue Jays- Colby Rasmus Outfielder

Braves- Doug Dascenzo Coach

Brewers- None

Cardinals- Mike Aldrete Coach

Cubs- None

Diamondbacks- Alex Sanabia Pitcher

Dodgers- Jamey Wright Pitcher

Giants- Buster Posey Catcher

Indians- Corey Kluber Pitcher

Marlins- None

Mariners- None

Mets- Daniel Murphy Infielder

Nationals- Jayson Werth Outfielder

Orioles- Steve Pearce Outfielder

Padres- Phil Plantier Coach

Phillies- None

Pirates- Jeff Bannister Coach

Rangers- Joakim Soria Pitcher

Rays- Jose Molina Catcher

Red Sox- Greg Colbrunn Coach

Reds- Chris Heisey Outfielder

Rockies- Nolan Arenado Infielder

Royals- Pedro Grifol Coach

Tigers- Alex Gonzalez Infielder

Twins- None

White Sox- Leury Garcia Infielder

Yankees- Joe Girardi Manager

Down in Front! – Part 6

This is the final post in a series investigating my biggest pet peeve with Indians baseball- the fact that visiting teams fans always seemed to be in some of the best seats in Progressive Field. Using my MLB.tv account, I have put this peeve to the test, going through each home game to see if foreign fans had made it into the front rows.

The Tribe stumbled into September on a 5-game losing skid. They were 8.5 games behind the Tigers in the division, and most importantly (for this little project) our fans were tied 30-30 with the visiting clubs. Just one month left, here’s how it played out…

9-2-13 Orioles

On the 2nd, a 7-2 loss to the O’s soured the start of a homestand while the blurry Baltimore backers in the top, right corner gave their fans a win too.

9-3-13 Orioles

Less that 10,000 fans managed to make it to Progressive on 9/3 but luckily these grandmas came to support their Tribe!

9-4-13 Orioles

Purple shirt is clogging up the good seats while the Indians jersey wearing fans are relegated to the 4th row. It’s a win, though.

9-6-13 Mets

Friday the 6th saw an 8-1 win and a young lady in the front row who was disgusted at the thought of a Mets fan sitting in her section. That’s three straight for the team and the fans!

9-7-13 Mets

While Tribe fans lost the war on the 7th, the certainly won this battle. I’m pretty sure that Cleveland couple is sticking a tongue out AND throwing some serious side-eye at the polo=wearing Mets fans.

9-8-13 Mets

Obviously Monday is laundry day in Cleveland because it looks like everyone’s Indians clothes were too dirty to wear to the game. The Mets fans on the far right packed enough for the weekend, though.

9-9-13 Royals

While the team won for the 6th time in 8 games, the Tribe faithful dropped their 3rd straight, thanks to a lady in a white KC crewneck. That’s right, a white sweatshirt. Let that sink in.

9-10-13 Royals

Tuesday the 10th must’ve been another off laundry night but this one Tribe fan gets the win!

9-11-13 Royals

9-11 saw one rouge Royals fan sneak in. Fun fact, I have only met one Royals fan in my entire life. No fooling. One.

9-19-13 Astros

I’m not even going to complain about this fan loss to the Astros on the 19th because

  1. It was the start of a 10-game win streak for the Tribe
  2. Not to blow the rest of the article, but this was the last fan loss of the regular season
  3. Only 12,606 other people bothered to go to this game
  4. The Astros were 51-101 entering this game, but this guy still shelled out some good money to sit close and support his team.

9-20-13 Astros

Went wide angle for this one but no Astros fans could be found. One guy in Indians gear had a great seat, though…

9-20-13 Cory

That’s right, CORY SNYDER was at the game! His Indians polo was a couple sizes too big but who cares? He’s CORY FREAKING SNYDER!

9-21-13 Astros

Oh hey, our team has won two-in-a-row and are fighting for a playoff spot, let’s break out the Tribe gear!

9-22-13 Astros

Sunday the 22nd saw a 9-2 win to finish off a four-game sweep and a return of Tribe pride. Props for the little fan in the front row with the fuzzy Slider hat!

9-24-13 White Sox

Tuesday the 24th: 5 straight wins for the Tribe, 4 straight wins for the fans

9-25-13 White Sox

Giambi stares down the 6th straight team win and 5th straight fan win. Way to finish strong, Cleveland!

So after 81 home games here is our final tally

39 games for Indians fans

36 games for visiting fans

5 games with no team apparel

1 game with no shot of our section in question


Thanks to the Tribe’s improbable 10 wins to close out the season, Cleveland would see postseason baseball for the first time since 2007. Progressive Field was packed. Electric. Red…with a speck of powder blue

10-2-13 Rays

One run and one fan end a dream season with a double loss.

So after going through this entire process, I would say that I have a legitimate beef. Almost half of the Indians home games feature foreign fans in very visible seats. I don’t know if the Indians need to take a look at the season ticket holders in this area or what the resale market, but it looks really bad when we can’t even get our own fans in the front rows. Maybe things will be different in 2014. Maybe the playoff run will make tickets less available. Maybe we can keep those darn Tiger fans and their signs in the cheap seats! Maybe I’ll keep track of this season too, just to see…

Want to take the full look back? Check out the other months…

April | May | June | July | August

Down in Front! – Part 5

This post is the continuation of an in-depth look at a big pet peeve of mine- visitng team fans getting some of the best seats in Progressive Field. I’ve been going through every home game of the 2013 season and looking for foreign fans in the sections right behind the left-handed batters box. The Indians entered August as hot as could be- the team was riding a 7 game winning streak and the fans had closed out July by keeping away fans away in 6 of the last 8 games. Could the momentum keep up through the dog days of August?

The Tribe finished off a 4-game sweep of the White Sox and moved just two games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. Tribe fans also let their colors fly.

8-1-13 White Sox

After the White Sox win, the Indians took two of three in Miami and returned for a HUGE series with the first-place Tigers. The fans came out in full force too. The Tigers fans…

8-5-13 Tigers


August 6th is a dark day for this project. It’s one thing to have Tiger fans in the front row, but it’s another thing when they come with a PILE of signs! This game is so offensive it gets THREE pictures…

This fella knew he was getting on TV in these seats because he brought sign begging Rod to call him…




8-6-13 Tigers


…and apparently Rod got the message.

8-6-13 Tigers B


Then the worst. THE GUY STARTS BLOWING KISSES! BLOWING KISSES!!! How are we letting this happen?!?!

8-6-13 Tigers C


Things didn’t get much better on the 7th, still a front row filled with Detroit supporters.

8-7-13 Tigers


The Tribe lost a 10-3 stinker on the 8th. Four game sweep for Detroit and its fans.

8-8-13 Tigers


The Indians August free-fall carried over to the Angels series as a young fan managed to plant himself right next to the FOX Sports logo.

8-9-13 Angels


The kid had the same seat for game number two of the series. Oddly enough, someone in a bright green shirt sat in front of him both days.

8-10-13 Angels


Finally on the 10th, the Indians snapped their six-game losing streak while the fans ended a five-game skid. It look like our young Angels fan was back, but without anything Angels. He looked pretty miserable too.

8-11-13 Angels


Cleveland’s Nine returned from a nine game west coast trip on the 23rd and one salty old Twins fan ruined the party.

8-23-13 Twins


Cleveland fans came out on the 24th, thanks to Nick Swisher jersey night. But what’s with Mr. Blue & Yellow in the front row?

8-24-13 Twins


The team and fans closed out the home schedule with back-to-back wins on the 25th, more importantly though, is that a Wahoo on Swisher’s eye black??

8-25-13 Twins


The Tribe had it’s worst month on the field, going 12-16 in August, the fans didn’t do so hot either, dropping the month 4-7 and falling into a 30-30 tie with the visiting fans for the season.

It was a September to remember on the field. We’ll have to see if the fans can pull it out too!

Missed the other months? 

April – May – June  – July



Down in Front! – Part 4

This is the latest installment in a series that is putting one of my pet peeves to the test. It seems to me that some of the best seats in Progressive Field are always filled with visiting fans, so to prove this theory, I am going through the entire 2013 home schedule to see if I really do have a reason to be peeved. A strong showing in June pushed Indians fans into the lead, 20-15. Now let’s see if they could avoid a summer swoon in July!

Coming off a 7-4 road swing, the Indians were heating up but the fans couldn’t keep one Tiger fan from sneaking into the front row for a Friday the 5th game.

7-5-13 Tigers


Detroit rolled 7-0 the night before so fans must’ve been too embarrassed to break out their Tribe wear. Tigers too. It’s a push.

7-6-13 Tigers


Back-to-back wins meant it was time for this Tiger fan to break out his Sunday polo. Wahoo won on the field, 9-6.

7-7-13 Tigers


Detroit must have taken a long weekend because two fans made it into our section. not really sure what jersey the front row fan is wearing but another Old English D is lurking a few rows back. Even more entertaining is the make out session happening on the left. Take special note of light blue polo’s side eye, the angry kid behind the couple, and the fella picking his nose.

7-8-13 Tigers


The Indians lost three of four to the Tigers and the fans did one worse. Things didn’t improve on Tuesday the 9th as Jays fans made it up front and the only Indians fan was wearing a yellow jersey?!? Is that a no-contact look??

7-9-13 Blue Jays


Forget Mexico- border security to the north seems to be a real issue.

7-10-13 Blue Jays



7-11-13 Blue Jays


After the mid-week Canadian invasion, Tribe fans needed a rally and it started on Friday the 12th.

7-12-13 Royals


Saturday the 13th posed a problem. The game was not actually televised -a crime because of the Indians glorious all navy throwback uniforms! MLB.tv has the game in its archive but there are only 3 or 4 camera angles- none of which showed our section. We’ll have to call it a push.

The Tribe rode a three-game winning streak into Sunday and the fans could care less. One kid showed up in a hat, but in this brutal month a win is a win.

7-17-13 Royals


The All-Star break and a six- game road swing must have made Tribe fans hungry for baseball because they came out strong on Friday the 26th.

7-26-13 Rangers


Saturday saw two Texas fans just as confused as the team- are we red or blue? either way they lost a beauty of a pitchers duel as Masterson outlasted Darvish for a 1-0 win.

7-27-13 Rangers


Indians fans needed to finish the month strong and this guy broke out his navy jersey to pick up the Sunday win. Tribe completed the sweep with a 6-0 win too.

7-28-13 Rangers


Riding a four-game win streak, the Wahoos welcomed the White Sox and one person managed to wear their Indians jersey.

7-29-13 White Sox


What we have here is a blurry case of bad parenting. That young man needs a better hat.

7-30-13 White Sox


I think this might be the same kid but now in an Indians hat. So…good parenting? And Tribe fans finish what started as a rough month with a win!

7-31-13 White Sox


After going 0-6-1 to start July, Indians fans made it a respectable loss with 6 wins 8 losses and 2 push games. Heading into August, Tribe fans clung to a 26-23 lead.

Missed the other months?




Down in Front! – Part 3

Last season I carried on and complained that there always seemed to be visiting fans in some of the choicest seats in Progressive Field. This location, just behind the lefty batter’s box, near the Visitor’s Dugout, gets a lot of airtime during broadcasts and I couldn’t believe that so many visiting fans could get such a great view. So I decided to put my hypothesis to the test. Using my MLB.tv account, I am going through each home game of the 2013 season to see just how many times this section of seats was infiltrated by foreign fans. So far, the visitors held a slight advantage: 13 games to 12, but the Tribe was coming on strong with a good May following a weak April. Time to see if the feathered faithful made us proud in June.

The Indians and Rays were in the middle of a three game series to start the month and fans were SO EXCITED that exactly one guy in the section thought to wear his Tribe hat. Indians won 5-0 on the field and that fella got them a win in the stands too!

6-1-13 Rays

A few more folks caught the spirit for Sunday’s getaway day. Even the bro in the front row managed the right color cap. Little did these folks know that the Tribe was about to go on an eight game bender.

6-2-13 Rays

Cleveland’s club stumbled back home after a 2-7 road swing to take on Nationals and gridlock must’ve kept the DC in the Capitol. June 14th was a 2-1 win for the team and blurry win for our section, thanks to Navy Jersey Man.

6-14-13 Nationals

33,307- the largest crowd since Opening Day packed the Prog on Saturday June 15th and in the high rent district, they were sporting plenty of pride.

6-15-13 Nationals

The Tribe knocked off Strasburg and the fans came out strong again to pick up the Front Rows Sweep. Some guy in the fourth row got confused and broke out his Browns shirt a few months too early, though.

6-16-13 Nationals

All good things must come to an end, including a perfect streak of no foreign fans in June- and of all the teams to break the streak, it was the Royals! Even the fella in the Block C hat is embarrassed that Royals fans snuck in.

6-17-13 Royals

Boy, the fan streak ended and the Indians lost the night before, so Tuesday the 18th became apathy day. Luckily Pepsi girl saw fit to wear her Tribe shirt, nabbing a win for the home folks. Oh, and the team won 4-3 also.

6-18-13 Royals

I thought both team and fans were in for back-to-back wins until somebody reached for a nacho, allowing his KC to come out. Even Michael Bourn was shocked. Tribe doubled up the Royals 6-3 to take the series.

6-19-13 Royals

After a day off, the Twins came to town to close out a nine-game homestand. Friday the 21st was a 5-1 for the team and a win in the stands as well.

6-21-13 Twins

Went with the wide angle from Saturday’s game to give Minnesota more of a shot but our sections were a sea of C’s…and Wahoos.

6-22-13 Twins

Looking to end a strong month, Indians fans let one slip by as a lone Twins jersey snuck into the 4th row for Sunday the 23rd’s series and homestand finale.

6-23-13 Twins

It was a massive month for Tribe fans as they outlasted the competition 8 games to 2! Thanks to that strong showing, the home team moved into the lead 20 games to 15. The Indians would hit the road for 11 straight (and win 7 of those) as they rallied into July.

Down in Front! – Part 2

Previously on Down in Front! – Peeved over the proliferation of foreign fans in some prime seats at Progressive Field, I set out to see if they really had taken over. I’m using my MLB.tv account to go through each home game from 2013 to look for visiting fans sitting right behind the lefty batter’s box. April’s results had 2 games with only Indians fans, 6 games with foreign fans, and 1 game with no visible fan apparel. Now let’s take a look at May…

The Tribe entered May like a lion, riding a three-game winning streak, but Windians fever had not kicked in for the folks in the expensive seats. There’s not a team cap of shirt to be seen


A two game sweep of the Phillies and the start of a weekend series with the Twins brought out some fans on the 3rd, but there is one pesky Twins hat spoiling the scene.


A Saturday in the sun brought out a mix of Cleveland team wear- the 70’s Tribe jersey, a Cardiac Kids shirt, and a Cavs shirt hiding a few rows back. 


Sunday May 5th brought an end to a six-game win streak but Tribe fans continued their streak of keep foreign fans away!


The Monday May 6th crowd must’ve come straight from work because there are a lot of dress shirts but the second row brings us a happy man in an Indians hat and jersey!Image 

Tuesday’s game with the A’s almost broke the streak of foreign-fan-free games, but it turned out the green A cap in the front row was not actually an A’s cap. Poor choice by that young man but plenty of other Indians fans to make up for him. I especially like the 1917 Indians hat with the white piping in the third row.


Wednesday May 8th saw the 9th win in 10 games for the Tribe and another victory for Indians fans- including our friend in the 1917 hat. May has been really rough on my hypothesis that these seats are usually filled with visiting fans…


A Thursday afternoon game saw a sweep for the Tribe and the fans. Not an Oakland fan in sight!


Two rainouts in April led to a rare doubleheader with the Yankees on May 13th. The Tribe & Yanks split on the field and in the seats as a Yankee fan snuck in for Game 2.


The Mariners came to Cleveland for a wrap-around series starting Friday May 17th, and the only fan to be seen was an Indians fan.


Saturday afternoon the crowd was treated to a Mark Reynolds walk-off infield single- the crowd that included a Mariners fan trying to get into Jason Kipnis’s head.


A familiar face showed up for Sunday’s game, wearing the same road gray jersey he wore back on May 5th. Could these be his seats??


It was suns-out-guns-out for this Tribe fan. The Indians swept the 4 game series with the M’s but the fans only took 3 out of 4.


A five-game winning streak and a match-up against the hated Tigers certainly didn’t fill this Tuesday May 21st crowd with Tribe pride. The only baseball apparel is a royal blue jersey that belongs to neither team. This poor showing poured onto the field too. Detroit 5 Cleveland 1.


Game two brought out the Tribe pride but a pair of Tiger fans just in front of Kipnis spoiled the fun.


The Indians stumbled back to Progressive Field on May 29th, having lost 7 of their last 8, including two in Cincinnati. The Reds came to Cleveland and so did their fans.


More invaders from the south filled the front rows but the Indians polished of a two-game sweep on the 30th!


The Tribe went out of May like a lamb, falling to the Rays 9-2 and allowing this guy in the front row.


It was a winning month of May on the field (18-12) and a winning month in the stands too. Indians fans filled our seat location in 10 games while foreign fans showed up for 7; the remaining two games saw no fan apparel. That puts our yearly total at 12 games for Indians fans, 13 for foreign fans, and 3 for duddy fans.

Want to see how June went? Click here!

Down in Front! – Part 1

Uni-Watch had a post recently on Pet Peeves in sports and that got me thinking; what was MY biggest Pet Peeve. I ran down a list: the Steelers, the demise of team shoes in college basketball, televised tennis. But there was one peeve that has been stuck in my craw for the last few years. Over the last few seasons, it seems like there have been visiting fans sitting in some of the best seats in Progressive Field. As an Indians fan, this irks me! Seemingly every game has a Tiger fan, or a White Sox fan grinning from their front row seat right behind the lefty batter’s box. I know this because they get on TV almost every time a lefty is batting! So with the help of my MLB.tv account, I have decided to go back through the 2013 season and put my Peeve to the test. Are there really THAT many opposing fans in those seats or does it just stick out when they’re there?

We’ll start with April. Thankfully my premise was wrong for Opening Day. With the Yankees in town and the Tribe debuts of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, I would assume that the actual seat owners (and Tribe fans) were in their seats.

4-8-13 Yankees

Game number two brought our first outbreak for foreign fandom.

4-9-13 Yankees

Bad weather chased away the pinstripes but cold temperatures and Pale Hosers blew in on Friday the 12th.

4-12-13 White Sox

Saturday the 13th brought more cold weather and an undercover Tribe fan. At first I thought he was wearing a Texas Rangers hat but I think it’s actually from a high school using the “T” logo.

4-13-13 White Sox

Fanship took a backseat to warmth on Sunday the 14th, even though the gametime temp was 45.

4-14-13 White Sox

Thanks to the MLB schedule-maker, the Indians saw two large draws in the Yankees and Red Sox visit on consecutive April weeks. These probably would’ve been sell-outs on warmer weekends, instead just 9,143 came out for the Tuesday April 16th game. That number included this fella in his Sawx jacket. (also note the black band on Michael Brantley’s sleeve for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing)

4-16-13 Red Sox

Game two of the Boston series brought a pack of Sawx fans, including a guy representing America along with his Boston cap.

4-17-13 Red Sox

The final game of the series finally saw signs of life from Indians fans- even if it was a vested jersey from 2002 sitting next to a Boston hat & jacket combo.

4-18-13 Red Sox

After a 2-6 start at home, the Indians hit the road for nine games before returning home to close out the month with the Phillies. This one was a push but let’s examine the Phillie fans. Looks like Mom & Son in matching jerseys and then if you look in the top-right, there’s an old powder blue and burgundy jersey.

4-30-13 Phillies

So after the month of April, the record for our seats was 2 games all Indians, 6 games with visiting fans, and one game with plain clothes.

Click here for May’s results.

Indians by the Numbers: 1-5

Baseball lore has it that the New York Yankees were the first team to wear numbers on their uniforms. These digits were assigned by the player’s spot in the batting order- thus Babe Ruth became #3 and Lou Gehrig donned #4. Now there is some truth to this story, as the Yankees adopted numbers in 1929 and kept them, but the first Major League team to try out numbers was actually the 1916 Cleveland Indians. The Tribe tried out numbers for a few weeks in the ’16 season and then started the ’17 season fully numeral-ed, but it just didn’t stick. In an odd twist, the first MLB game to feature both teams wearing numbers was a tilt between the two pioneers- the Indians & Yankees.

That little history lesson serves as an excuse to expound on the Indians and their numbers by saluting each number and the Indian who, in my opinion, wore that number the best. Keep in mind that I have only been an Indians fan since 1986, so my views will be skewed towards more recent players, but I’ll try to sprinkle in some legends as well. So let’s get started….

#00 – Willie Mays Hayes

Ok, I realize that right off the bat, I am cheating. Willie Mays Hayes never actually played for the Indians, but his number is iconic! I don’t think that any actual player has worn 00 or just plain 0, but if they have, they are not as well known as the blazing fast, wanna-be powerhitter and movie star. I’m not really sure which Willie gets the nod, though. Original Willie? Or Willie 2.0?

#1 – Casey Blake

Travis Hafner congratulates Casey Blake on being named as the all-time favorite #1 for the Indians.

I just flat out respect Casey Blake. He is the definition of a lunch pail guy. He just came to the ballpark everyday, ready to bust his tail and do whatever it took to help the team. Hey Casey, can you play third? Sure. Hey Casey, can you move to the outfield? Sure. Hey Casey, can you play first? Sure. I’m pretty sure that if they asked him to sell hot dogs, the guy would’ve pulled on a striped shirt and moved some product. Casey appeared in 810 games in his 6 years as an Indian. He hit a respectable .266 with 116 homeruns and 417 rbi. My favorite Casey Blake moment was his solo homer in Game 4 of the 2007 ALCS against Boston. The game was scoreless up until that point and sitting in the stands, I called it that Casey would lead off the inning with a jack. I even wrote it down on my scorecard, and then BOOM, the son-of-a-gun did it!

Others to wear #1: Luis Valbuena, Kosuke Fukudome, and Tony Fernandez.

 # 2 – Brett Butler

Yes, I know it’s an odd selection. Why Brett Butler? Because he is the first Indians player that I remember remembering. He was a little guy, he wore the same number that I did, and he got stuck out in the outfield like I did. What was not to like?! I was even lucky enough to get a Brett Butler baseball card. All I had to do was trade my older cousin for some rookie named Roger Clemens. Thanks Tim. You little swindler. My first Indians jersey was supposed to be a Brett Butler, but I was a kid and got confused and asked for #6. While I was watching the Indians game that night on WUAB, I suddenly realized that my Brett Butler jersey was actually an Andy Allanson.

Others to wear #2: Jhonny Peralta, Luis ValbuenaAlex Cole, and Einar Diaz

#3 – Earl Averill

The guy’s a Hall of Famer and has his number retired. Nuf said.

#4 – Tony Bernazard

Tony Bernazard beats out the bullpen coach for #4

Just like Brett Butler at #2, this goes back to my childhood. Tony Bernazard was an Indian from 1984-1987, right when I first discovered The Tribe. Tony’s 518 games in Cleveland were the most he played for any team in his 10-year career. He hit .264 and clubbed 41 of his 75 career homeruns as an Indian. He also had this thing where he would roll up the red, white, and navy trim on his jersey sleeves. All of that is well and good, but the reason that Tony gets the nod to represent the #4 is because one time, while I was putting ketchup on my pregame hot dog at Municipal stadium, Tony Bernazard walked right by me, in full uniform with his glove, bat, and everything. As a 9-year-old kid, I was shocked to have an honest-to-goodness player right there, so I said, “Hey, Tony! blah blah blah.” I don’t even remember what I said. It probably didn’t even make sense. THAT’s how excited I was about seeing Tony Bernazard. He smiled and waved at me and I’ll tell you what, I was really glad that Mom had talked me into getting that hot dog.

Others to wear #4: Trevor Crowe, Bullpen Coach Luis Isaac

#5 – Lou Boudreau

As with #3, no one else will wear #5 thanks to Lou’s Hall of Fame career.

So there you have, the best Indians to ever wear 00-5.

July 5, 1947

Quick show of hands- who knows what important baseball event happened on July 5, 1947?


Doesn’t ring a bell?

That’s a shame because it was one of the more important dates in baseball history for integration of the game.

Everyone is familiar with the Opening Day date of that season, April 15, 1947, because that is the day that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier as a Brooklyn Dodger. Books, movies, articles, blogs- you name it and it has been done in honor of April 15, 1947. But July 5th has just faded into the ether. So what happened on July 5, 1947? Larry Doby integrated the American League, becoming the second African- American to play Major League baseball.

I understand that no one remembers #2. We know that Matt Kemp finished second in the National League MVP voting this past season because there was a push to hand him the award after Ryan Braun’s brush with P.E.D. problems, but who finished second in the American League voting? Who was the second American in space? After Columbus, who was the second person to sail to “The New World?” Number #2 never really makes the history books, but in Doby’s case, he was still a #1.

Larry Doby was born in South Carolina but moved to New Jersey when he was a boy. It was in New Jersey, as a member of the Negro League’s Newark Eagles that Doby was selected by Indians’ owner Bill Veeck. The entire process of getting Doby from Newark to Chicago, where the Indians were playing the White Sox, took all of four days. While Robinson and the Dodgers had an entire year to prepare for his move to the big leagues- Doby didn’t even have a week. He was signed on the 5th and entered the game that day as a pinch-hitter. For the rest of the season, Doby was the first African- American that played in each American League park. Just like Robinson, he faced angry crowds, angry opponents, and angry teammates. He also had to stay in separate hotels when on the road. Doby suffered the same injustices as Robinson but without the fanfare.

In his first full season, Doby hit .301 with 14 homeruns and 66 RBI. He became the first African- American to play in a World Series, homer in a World Series, and win a World Series. He would be named to seven consecutive All- Star teams and finished second in 1954’s MVP voting. Doby finished his 13-year career with a .283 batting average 253 homeruns and 970 RBI and in 1998, the veterans committee saw fit to elect Larry Doby into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

After his playing career ended with the White Sox, Doby went on the become a scout and coach. In 1974 he returned to the Indians and was in line to become the first African- American manager in Major League Baseball when the Tribe instead named the newly-acquired Frank Robinson to the honor. Doby returned to the south side of Chicago where he became the second black manager in the big leagues.

In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut, Major League Baseball retired his #42 for every single team. It was a powerful gesture and has been recognized for the past few years on April 15th with every player, coach, and manager wearing that number. The Indians are involved in that tribute, but in 2007, the club payed a similar homage to their own pioneer by donning Doby’s retired #14. This did not occur on July 5th, though, as the Indians were in Detroit on that day. This year, though, Cleveland has a home game scheduled for July 5th, the 65th anniversary of Larry Doby’s debut, and this would be a great opportunity to salute Doby’s contributions.

Last Opening Day, Cleveland paid tribute to Indians legend Bob Feller by having each player wear his retired #19 before the game but I say that the Tribe honor Doby each and every July 5th, by replacing all of the names and numbers on the back of their jerseys with the 14 that Doby made famous. It’s a fitting tribute and it’s a way to recognize an often overlooked part of baseball history.

Using My Power For Good

Ok, I’ll come right out and say it…I almost bought a Tigers shirt today.

I assure you that I am not jumping ship. I am not giving up on the team that I have loved for 25 years. I am not giving up on the dream of an Indians World Series Champions hat.

I am actually trying to help…

I’ve mentioned before that I am a bit of jinx when it comes to Indians player apparel. Just the simple fact that I bought a Grady Sizemore jersey has ruined his career. I try to convince myself that the jinx is not real but then I look at Matt LaPorta’s batting average and know it is true. Just this month I was trying to identify a new favorite Indian- since the whole LaPorta thing hasn’t really worked out- when I realized that I did not need to ruin another career!

Then it hit me.

I could use this power for good and not for evil.

I could really support the Indians by jinxing key players from rival clubs!

But where to start?! What player should I hamstring into, say, a pulled hamstring? There were several options to choose from but one player stood out from the rest. While this player’s loss would not ruin his new team, it certainly wouldn’t help, and besides, this guy doesn’t eat meat and he is mean to his father!

That’s right, the player I have chosen to jinx is Prince Fielder.

And I almost pulled the trigger today. The MLB Shop had a 25% off sale and I had just heard that Prince was raking in Spring Training but I just couldn’t do it. I could not bring myself to buy a Tigers shirt. It felt dirty. I understand that it is for the greater good. I understand that with this power comes a great responsibility. I just don’t want someone to think I’m a Tigers fan!