On December 9, 1941, just two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Cleveland pitcher Bob Feller enlisted in the United States Navy, becoming the first American professional athlete to volunteer for World War II. Feller was not required to participate in the war, being eligible for deferment because his father was terminally ill, but Feller was determined to join the fight. He would be discharged from the Navy on August 22, 1945, having earned six campaign ribbons and eight battle stars.
The Detroit Tigers released player-manager Ty Cobb on November 2, 1926. At first, Cobb announced his retirement at the end of 22 years with the Tigers, but when Cleveland Indians player-manager Tris Speaker also retired shortly thereafter, many heads turned. It soon came out that the two were coerced into retirement as a result of allegations of game-fixing brought about by Dutch Leonard, a former pitcher managed by Cobb.
On August 11, 1926, Indians outfielder Tris Speaker hit his 700th career double against the White Sox at Dunn Field. Over the course of his career, Speaker would accumulate 792 total doubles, establishing a major league record that stands to this day.
On June 10, 1959, Rocky Colavito of the Indians belted four home runs in a single game, making him the sixth player in major league history to accomplish the feat, and just the second player in American League history to do so. Colavito’s achievement helped Cleveland defeat the Orioles, 11-8, at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.
The first Sunday baseball game ever played in the nation’s capital took place on May 19, 1918, five days after Congress voted in favor of lifting the ban in Washington, D.C. The Washington Senators defeated the Cleveland Indians, 1-0, in twelve innings in front of 15,352 fans at Griffith Stadium.
On February 14, 1934, Edgar Charles “Sam” Rice signed with the Cleveland Indians. Rice had played 19 seasons with the Washington Senators prior to this year, and would go on to retire at the conclusion of the 1934 season. Rice batted .293 in 335 at-bats for the Indians in his final season, but fell 13 hits shy of the 3,000 career hit mark before calling it quits. Rice would be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1963.
In a publicity stunt arranged by the Come to Cleveland Committee on August 20, 1938, five members of the Indians (catchers Hank Helf, Frank Pytlak, and Rollie Hemsley and coaches Wally Schang and Johnny Bassler) attempted to set a record by catching a baseball dropped from the top of the 708-foot tall Terminal Tower. In front of a crowd of approximately 10,000 people, rookie reserve catcher Hank Helf managed to catch a ball dropped from the 52-story structure, which was estimated to be traveling at 138 mph. The catch broke Gabby Street’s 1908 mark for a vertical catch, established when Street snagged a ball dropped 555 feet from the top of the Washington Monument.
Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians announced their new, much-anticipated team name, which will become effective at the conclusion of the 2021 season. Starting next season, the Cleveland baseball team will be known as the Cleveland Guardians.
While I wholeheartedly agree that a name change is necessary, I confess, I was initially torn about the new name. My initial reaction to the announcement was along the lines of, “Ew… what?” I thought, surely, they could have found something better than that.
But the more I think about it, the more the name grows on me. I cannot think of any other team in any sport, baseball or otherwise, who call themselves the Guardians. Plus, Guardians of the Galaxy is a kickass movie, and I would love to see Cleveland do a Star-Lord theme night (or a Groot theme night!).
I am curious what the new mascot is going to look like. That is just one of many details that the team will have to figure out in the months ahead, for sure. In the meantime, the new logo does look pretty slick.