Thursday, March 12, 2009

Indians Named Harold

I noticed Steve over at "Wait 'til Next Year" has presented his "All-Steve" team. I have decided to list all the Indians from the past 50 years who are named "Harold". There are not many:

Hal Naragon - Catcher. He hit .279 in 239 games
Hal Woodeshick - Pitcher. Was 6-6 in 14 games
Hal Jones - Outfield, First Base. Hit .216 in 17 games
Harold Baines - Designated Hitter. In 28 games he hit .271
Gomer Hodge - First, Second & Third Base. Hit .205 in 80 games.

I think Hal Jones was very lucky to get his own baseball card, the 17 games he played with the Tribe marked his entire career in the majors. On the other hand, poor Gomer played 80 games for Cleveland and as far as I know never got his own major league card. The two above were when he managed the Waterloo Indians and were printed by Larry Fritsch. I nearly forgot all about Gomer and the fact he was named "Harold." He will always be remembered for starting his major league career with four straight pinch hits. He then told reporters "Gollee, Fellas, I'm hittin' four thousand! Ain't that somethin'?" Unfortunately, his "4.000" batting average soon dropped to .205 and he was sent down, never to return. The Gomer quote was from "The Cleveland Indians Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition" by Russell Schneider.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fleer original and Tradition

In 1963, Fleer produced a set of Major League baseball cards, illustrated here by Tito Francona and Jerry Kindall. In 2003, Fleer used a very similar design for their Tradition set. The above comparison will let you decide what has changed in 40 years and which set you prefer. I see details in both sets that I like. There are changes in card design, quality of photography, legal matters, manufacturing, and the game of baseball, all evident in these few cards.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Indians Worst Trade - Don't Knock the Rock

Cleveland sports writer Russell Schneider in his book, The Cleveland Indians Encyclopedia 3rd Edition, lists what he considers the 15 Best Trades and the 15 Worst Trades ever made by Cleveland. I can still remember the trade that he calls the worst, and I fully agree that it was the worst. April 17, 1960, General Manager Frank Lane traded Rocky Colavito to the Tigers for Harvey Kuenn. The Rock had tied Harmon Killebrew in 1959 for the AL home run lead with 42 and Kuenn was the AL batting champ. As a nine-year-old whose favorite player had been traded, I was extremely upset and disliked GM Lane, as did most Indian fans. Because of his numerous trades, he had been called Trader Lane. This was now changed to Traitor Lane. Kuenn's batting average dropped from .353 to .308 and he was traded to the SF Giants after the season. Even though he played a full season with the Tribe, he never had a Topps card as an Indian, which is just as well since they would all have probably ended up as BB gun targets.

The Indians got pitcher Johnny Antonelli and outfielder Willie Kirkland from the Giants. Antonelli was 0-4 in eleven games, and Kirkland had three fairly mediocre years in Cleveland compared to what the Rock was doing in Detroit. Willie eventually played in Japan and married a Japanese woman.

Rocky was in Detroit four years, then a year at Kansas City, and then returned to Cleveland for three years. He led the AL in RBI in 1965, his first year back. The trade that got him back was a three-way deal with the White Sox and Athletics. Russell Schneider calls it the sixth worst trade in Tribe history, since we gave up Tommie Agee, Johnny Romano and a pitcher named Tommy John.