Sunday, June 14, 2009

When Nature Strikes Back...

Who could forget the infamous "Bug Game" at Jacobs Field (now Progressive) vs. the Yankees in the ALDS in 2007? Yes, the Cleveland Indians won that game in 11 innings and took a 2-0 lead in the series. Oh, there were those that carped and moaned that the Indians had an unfair advantage. Roger Clemens, then still with the Yankees, chastised then manager Joe Torre for not pulling his team off of the field because of the apparent plague sent to punish the Yankees.

Well, recently nature struck again at a home game here in Cleveland and it played a hand (or should I say a "wing") in the outcome of the game.

Almost from out of the movie, "The Birds" came a flock of seagulls that have been hanging around Progressive Field since the start of this season. Ominously lurking in the rafters, flying over home plate casting distracting shadows, calling for scraps of food from fans, and gathering in the outfield, these birds have been biding their time, just waiting for the chance to help out the home team.
Well, they took their best shot on this past Thursday night. With the score tied at 3 in the bottom of the 10th inning, Shin Soo Choo sent a hit up the middle with Mark DeRosa on second base and Victor Martinez on first base. As the ball bounced towards center field, KC outfielder Coco Crisp charged the ball to keep DeRosa at third base. But that is when the seagulls decided to help their adopted team. The ball apparently bounced off of one of the flocking birds and glanced away from Coco Crisp. As the ball went left of Crisp, he very cautiously maneuvered out of an encounter with the flock. Crisp motioned to the umpires as if to ask for interference from the birds. He was very careful to stay away from the birds as he looked quite afraid of them. Final score, Cleveland 4, KC 3, Seagulls 1.

As this season continues and the Indians await their injured stars to come back from the disabled list, they will take any and all help while staying in contention with their young players. Bugs and birds...what's next? Lightning bolts, vampire bats, locusts, and boils? Bring it on!

This past Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Cleveland favorite Rocky Colavito hitting 4 home runs vs. the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore, June 10th, 1959.

Rocky was a fan favorite and had the entire city of Cleveland devoted to him until he was dealt away in 1960 by then general manager Frank "Trader" Lane...shoulda been "Traitor" Lane. Rocky was also a very colorful and entertaining figure as he led the Indians in 1959 in a chase for the American League Pennant vs, the Chicago White Sox.

Also on that wonderful team of '59 was shortstop Woody Held. Woody played for the Indians from 1959 through 1964. He passed away last week at the age of 77.

Woody was a great guy, one of the top 100 Cleveland Indians of all time, and was know as a great team mate as remembered this week by former team mates Jim "Mudcat" Grant and Colavito. Bob Feller remembers Held as a great ball player and a man that never made an enemy.
If you have read this blog before, you know what the season of 1959 meant to me. Woody Held was a big part of that team and that season. He always had time for autographs and Q&A from fans of all ages, particularly little leaguers who were so taken with his kindness and the time he would spend talking baseball to us. That continued through the years as he was a regular at the Indians' Fantasy Camp. Woody loved to help and guide campers in the game that he loved, even campers who were not on his team during the one week "season". He was always available for early batting practice and he served as Joe Charboneau's straight man during many fun times at the camp.

Thanks to Woody for the great player that you were, for the time you spent with your fans, and for being part of some of my most cherished memories.

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