By Glen Sparks
Baseball in Cleveland harkens to the days of the Forest Citys of the 1860s. This baffling quiz does not travel quite so far back in time. Major League baseball in the city by Lake Erie began in 1901 with the Cleveland Bluebirds (often shortened to “Blues). By 1902, the Bluebirds had unofficially become the Bronchos (or Broncos). From 1903-14, the team was the Naps. Since 1915, they have been the Indians.
Cleveland has won five American League pennants and two World Series titles, in 1920 and 1948.
- Which Indians second baseman won four batting titles in Cleveland after batting a career-high .426 for the 1901 Philadelphia A’s?
- Which Indians shortstop died after being hit in the head with a pitch in 1920?
- Which Indians center fielder compiled a .345 lifetime batting average for the Tribe and three other teams?
- Which Indians ace once struck out 17 batters at the tender age of 17?
- Which Indians shortstop won the 1948 MVP?
- Which Indians batter flew out deep, and memorably, to Willie Mays in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series?
- Which Indians fire-baller was hit in the eye by a Gil McDougald line drive on May 7, 1957?
- Which Indians pitcher struck out 19 batters in a 10-inning game in 1968?
- Which Indians player-manager belted a home run on April 8, 1975?
- Which Indians pitcher hurled a perfect game on May 15, 1981.
- Napoleon Lajoie, out of Woonsocket, R.I., hit .338 during a 21-year Hall of Fame career. The Philadelphia Phillies signed Lajoie in 1906. The Frenchmen jumped to the A.L.’s Philadelphia A’s in 1901 before being traded to Cleveland early in the 1902 campaign.
- Ray Chapman liked to crowd the plate. Carl Mays liked to throw inside. On Aug. 16, 1920, that was a fatal combination late in the afternoon at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan. Mays’ pitch nailed Chapman in the head. His skull fractured, Chapman died about 12 hours later.
- Tris Speaker, from Hubbard, Texas, recorded 3,514 hits in his great career, 1,965 of them with Cleveland. The Grey Eagle also played nine years for the Boston Red Sox and one season apiece for the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia A’s,
- Signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1936, teenager Bob Feller made his Major League debut on July 19th of that year. On Sept. 13, he fanned 17 Philadelphia A’s batters. The Heater from Van Meter (Iowa) retired with 2,581 strikeouts in his Hall of Fame career.
- Lou Boudreau impressed baseball people with his talent and his intelligence. Before the 1942 season, Cleveland owner Alva Bradley promoted the 25-year-old shortstop to player-manager. Boudreau managed the team through the 1950 season and to a World Series title in 1948. The Hall of Famer batted .295 in his career, most of it spent with the Indians. He hit .355 in ’48 with a .453 on-base percentage.
- Vic Wertz batted .277 and made four All-Star teams during a 17-year career. He is most famous today, though, for a 450-foot drive that he hit in the 1954 World Series. New York Giants great Willie Mays tracked the ball down.
- Experts called Herb Score a left-handed Bob Feller, and it looked that way for a while. He struck out 245 batters in his rookie season of 1955 and followed that with 263 the following year. On May 7, 1957, a month shy of his 24th birthday, Gil McDougald of the New York Yankees ripped a line drive in the first inning that struck Score in the face. The damage to his eye eventually healed, but Score hurt his arm soon after the incident. He retired early in the 1962 season with a 55-46 won-loss record and 837 strikeouts in 858.1 innings.
- It was the year of the pitcher, 1968, and Luis Tiant was one of the best. The right-hander from Cuba went 21-9 with a 1.60 ERA (186 ERA+, 8.4 WAR) that season. He struck out 19 Minnesota Twins in a 1-0 victory on July 3.
- Frank Robinson enjoyed one of the greatest careers in baseball history. He batted .294 with 586 home runs and 1,812 RBI. The Indians hired him as the game’s first African-American manager in 1975. Robinson also served as the team’s designated hitter that year. In his first at-bat, he hit a home run off Doc Medich of the New York Yankees.
- No pitcher had thrown a perfect game since Catfish Hunter tossed one May 8, 1968, against the Minnesota Twins. Len Barker tossed his perfecto, the 10th in MLB history (eighth of the modern era), on May 15, 1981, against the Toronto Blue Jays.