Cleveland - Anyone who has followed our Tribe knows that Cleveland baseball has a long--and fascinating---history.
A local author and sportswriter has condensed that history into a new book, "The Ultimate Cleveland Indians Time Machine Book".
Martin Gitlin begins at the beginning, with the notoriously bad Cleveland Spiders baseball team, whose club did not last long. They had a record of 20 and 134.
Martin stopped by the WTAM studios to chat with us about his book, and to tell us how our beloved Indians came to be who they are today.
There is a lot of tragedy and triumph, and that is the name of one of the chapters, the one about the 1920 Indians. They won the World Series. But it was also the year that the team lost Ray Chapman, the only player ever killed in major league baseball. He was struck by a pitch and died shortly afterward.
Then of course, there is the world championship in 1948, a triumph they've yet to repeat, despite making it to the World Series again in 1954 (losing 4 straight to the New York Giants) and then several times since 1993.
Gitlin points out that this is a team that went into a contention "slump" for 33 years---never making it to the playoffs from 1960 until 1993. It's outlined in detail in his chapter entitled "Launching the Colavito Curse":
"This chapter features the career of late 1950s slugger Rocky Colavito and the so-called Colavito Curse that befell the Indians for decades after he was shockingly traded. The Indians did not contend for even a division title from 1960 to 1993 ever! Colavito was traded to Detroit right before the 1960 season. That is why it is called the Curse of Rocky Colavito."
The Tribe went on to have two terrible years in 1985 and 87, losing more than 100 games both years:
"But they teased everyone in 1986 with a great year that showed off the most potent offense in baseball. In a classic example of what has been called the Sports Illustrated Jinx, that magazine predicted the Indians would win the pennant in 1987. Instead they were the worst team in baseball."
Of course, while we yearn for another World Series victory, the Indians are definitely contenders now. Gitlin talks about the the 1995 season, in which Kenny Lofton scored "from second base on a wild pitch in the game that clinched the pennant" that year. He describes it as "a very magical season, the one that broke the curse of Rocky Colavito".
And he highlights the 2017 season and the epic 22-game winning streak, the longest in American League history.
Gitlin, who worked as a journalist and sportswriter between 1991 to 2002, has written more than 150 books since 2006. The subjects range from Great American breakfast cereals and cartoon characters to the "most significant" sporting events in American history, and America's greatest athletes.
"The Ultimate Cleveland Indians Time Machine Book" is available at www.gitlinbooks.com.
Copyright 2019 iHeartMedia. Photos courtesy of gitlinbooks.com. Used by permission.