Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oddly In Cleveland...

Cleveland Sports have had some colorful moments. Some not as proud as others but very colorful indeed. As the 2007 year comes to a conclusion, the highlights of the Cleveland Indians were made up in part by some very strange moments that have been well documented on these pages. That is not to say that 2007 is unique in the annals of Cleveland sports with odd or colorful moments. Here are just a sampling of past incidents:

Lou Boudreau, Manager of the Cleveland Indians once blew a game when he blew his nose, forgetting that the "steal" sign was putting a towel to his face.

Bill Veeck, colorful owner of the Cleveland Indians, once hired rubber-faced Max Patkin, the "Clown Prince of Baseball" as a coach. Patkin's appearance in the coaching box was the sort of promotional stunt by Veeck that delighted fans and infuriated the front office of the American League.

Just before opening day in 1960, hometown Cleveland favorite Rocky Colavito was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Harvey Kuenn. Colavito had led the Indians in a pennant chase with the Chicago White Sox the previous season, only to fall to second place in the final week of that season. Years later, sports columnist Terry Pluto documented the decades of woe that followed the trade in his book, "The Curse of Rocky Colavito." Pluto takes an in-depth look at this particular era, in which the franchise perennially played an almost comically bad brand of baseball. It was 35 years later that the Cleveland Indians finally reached the post season, 41 years since their last appearance in 1954.

On April 26, 1962 the Cleveland Indians traded catcher Harry Chiti to the New York Mets for a player to be named later. A few weeks later, The Mets sent Chiti back to the Indians as the player to be named later.

Not an Indian oddity but certainly worth mentioning, Abe Abraham was perhaps the most popular non-player in Browns history, until Big Dawg John Thompson came along. Abraham was affectionately known as "The Man in the Brown Suit" during his days with the team. Abe's main duty was retrieving extra point and field goal tries behind the goalposts in the closed end of the stadium. On September 20, 1964, Abe missed the start of the Browns-Cardinals game, the first and only time he was ever late for a game. When he finally arrived at the stadium, he received a louder ovation than many of the Browns players themselves. Later, Abe claimed that he was late because he couldn't find those famous Brown pants.

On June 4, 1974 the Indians hosted "Ten Cent Beer Night", but had to forfeit the game to the Texas Rangers due to drunken and unruly fans. The next night, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson joked that the reason for the riot at the stadium was because officials locked the bathrooms.

2007 brought many more oddities to Cleveland;

The Snowed-Out Indians Opening Weekend

The "Home Games" played in Milwaukee and Seattle

The "Phantom Run" taken off the score board 3 innings later vs. Baltimore

Bug-Gate, game 2 of the Yankees-Indians ALDS

How about "The Field Goal" vs. the Ravens that bounced off the center post of the goal post and back onto the field, forcing the Ravens to come back onto the field after going to their locker room with what they were sure was a victory?!

We have some great traditions in Cleveland sports that are laced with oddities. I suppose we wouldn't have them any other way, except to include a championship or three. If the Colts win tonight, all three major sports teams in Cleveland will be in the playoffs for the first time in a calendar year!

Go Indians, go Cavs, go Browns, and go Colts!

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

davemanddd said...

odd??? it's only odd if it's rare for such things to happen. as you know, those things are actually pretty typical here. thus the phrase "only in cleveland". you can add the 2007 browns who ended up going 10-6 but still missed the playoffs to the same list as the 2005 indians who won 93 games but also missed the post-season. woe are we.