Baseball History- How Cleveland Become the Indians

This story begins on October 24, 1871, with the birth of Louis Sockalexis. He was a member of the Penobscot Indian tribe in Maine. He grew to be six feet tall and had a muscular build in which he would use to become a spectacular athlete in his youth. He was the best athlete among his peers and went on to play semipro baseball and that was when he got noticed.

In 1894, he played baseball at Ricker Classical Institute in Maine and also played on various teams during the summer. One of his teammates, Mike Powers, convinced Louis to enroll at Holy Cross to play baseball. Sockalexis was a Catholic and a decent student and quickly was accepted.

He proceeded to bat .436 in 1895 and .444 in 1896 for the Holy Cross team. Along with that, he was a star athlete on the first football team in 1896 where he excelled as the running back. In the spring, he ran track and many days he won as many as five first-place medals. However, it was baseball that he got the most notice playing. It has been reported a few professors measured one of Sockalexis’ throws and claim he tossed in 413 feet.

The major league teams had a keen interest in him but the Cleveland Spiders had two players that had direct connections to Holy Cross athletics. In 1896, Sockalexis and Powers left school and enrolled at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. He lasted no more than three months before he was kicked out of school as they both got into a fight at a tavern over a girl and basically destroyed the place.

With no college affiliation and no baseball, he signed with Cleveland in the winter and worked hard on training in the off-season to make the club in the Spring. He showed up in top shape and impressed manager Patsy Tebeau so much that he made the squad. One sportswriter was impressed with the Penobscot Indian player and referred to the team as “Tebeau’s Indians.”  The name didn’t stick but it planted a seed for later in baseball history.

Spring training was a time for Sockalexis to impress the baseball world. The Spiders played their first intrasquad game on April 2. Tebeau divided the team into the “Indians” and the “Papooses,” and Sockalexis, batting cleanup for the Indians, drilled three hits, scored three runs, and threw a runner out at the plate from deep right field. He was a wonder.

Things went well until early July when it was discovered Sockalexis has a huge problem with drinking alcohol in excess. That evening it is said he either jumped or was pushed out of a second floor window at a brothel that he frequented and promptly injured his ankle very badly. When he got back to the club, he was sent to a doctor that put a cast on it for almost a week. While his team was on the road, he was drinking every night a the local tavern.

There are stories galore from here on out about how he lost his baseball skills as they eroded due to inebriation. He dropped fly balls, he couldn’t run the bases properly and now moved from team to team trying to hang on in baseball but to no avail. He left baseball in 1898 and went back to Maine to play on some local teams. He played in 94 major league games.

Back in Maine, he tried to teach other children to play baseball even after taking a job in the logging industry cutting down trees. But at the age of 42, he suffered a heart attack and died. In 1915, team owner Charles Somers was looking for a new name for his team when he decided to revive the name that was given almost 20 years before and called it the Indians.



Baseball History: Baseball Becomes a Business in 1869

 When Baseball Became a Business

   Harry Wright knew he could make money by putting a baseball team together. He was a ballplayer himself that once hit seven home runs in a game. He convinced a group of Ohio investors, in 1869, to finance the team and he was named manager. Wright was sure that he could get people to pay 25-50 cents to see a game. Afterall, they paid a dollar for the theater.

In Wright’s world, he wanted his players to be professional on the field so he paid them and then he drilled the fundamentals of the game into their head. He also desired that players remain silent on the field and act like businessmen. The team was supplied with knickers for pants as that would help their speed. The majority of the players came from New York but were relocated to Cincinnati. The team was called the Cincinnati Red Stockings.


Wright had standards and he told them:


In regard to diet, eat hearty. Roast beef rare will aid, live regularly, keep good hours and abstain from intoxicating drinks and tobacco. You must be a sure catch, good thrower, strong and accurate, a reliable batter, and a good runner, all to be brought out by steady and persevering practice.



Wright paid all the players. His younger brother, George, was the shortstop and he was paid $1400 for the season and he paid himself $1200 to be the manager. George was worth his salary as he batted .519, scored 339 runs, hit 59 home runs and made spectacular plays. The star pitcher was Asa Brainard and he had good control and strong concentration. The team went 65-0 for the 1869 season and the investors made $1.39 in profit for the season. This undefeated season got the attention of the townspeople and they took pride in their team and that secured Cincinnati as the baseball capital in the United States.

However, only one of the players came from Cincinnati as the rest of them were paid to come in from other cities such as New York. They took time off from the “real” jobs which included two hatters, two insurance salesmen, a bookkeeper and a piano maker. The following season they branch out and win their first 27 games before they travel to Brooklyn to face the Atlantics. The Red Stockings were favored 5 to 1 to win the game as 15,000 people came out to watch the contest.

Cincinnati went out to an early three-run lead but the Atlantics countered with two in the fourth and two runs in the sixth. After nine innings, the game was tied 5-5. The Atlantics were ecstatic and began to leave the field with a tie but the Red Stockings manager, Harry Wright, stated that clearly, the rules say that both teams must agree to end in a tie or it goes into extra innings. After a short discussion and possibly an argument, they decided to allow Henry Chadwick, chairman of the Rules Committee of the National Association to make the decision. He told them to continue playing.

Cincinnati didn’t want a tie or to lose and things went well for them in the eleventh inning as they scored two runs. But something happened in the bottom half as the pitcher allowed a single and then the runner reached third on a wild pitch. After a few hits they Atlantics snatched the victory and they had plenty to celebrate.

Cincinnati was devasted. The fans were devasted. So much so that they quit going to the games. Their team was not invincible. Investors withdrew their financial support. Players stopped getting paid. The team had to disband. Harry Wright understood it was a business and he took the best players and set up a new team in Boston.

A new league was formed on March 17, 1871 on the corner of 13th street and Broadway in Manhattan and amateur baseball ended and each player was given $800 to play for the nine-team league which consisted of the Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, Philadelphia Athletics, New York Mutuals, Washington Olympics, Troy Haymakers, Fort Wayne Kekiongas, Cleveland Forest Citys, and Rockford Forest Citys. Each team was expected to set up five games against each other and the team with the most wins were the champions.


Baseball History for February 12



Today on February 12th in Major League Baseball History

1878 After designing the device last season to protect his team’s promising, but skittish, catcher James Tyng, Fredrick Thayer receives a patent for his innovative invention, the catcher’s mask. The Harvard captain, who will never play in a major league game, designed an oblong wire frame modeled after a fencing mask with eyes holes that supports a series of strategically-placed pads made from animal skins. Here is an article from the New York Times about fans scoffing at a catcher’s mask.
1924 The National League announces it will join the AL in awarding a thousand dollars to the player selected by writers as the league’s Most Valuable Player. Dazzy Vance, who posts a 28-6 record along with an ERA of 2.16 for the Dodgers, easily outpoints Rogers Hornsby to become the Senior Circuit’s first MVP.
1930 After leading his A’s to a world championship, Connie Mack becomes the first Philadelphian sports figure to receive the prestigious Edward W. Bok Prize. The honor, now known as the Philadelphia Award, recognizes distinguished Philadelphians for their achievements in education, industry, law, politics, science, medicine, philosophy, and the creative arts. Very good article written in the SabrBio Project about Connie Mack.
1942 Former Texarkana outfielder Gordon Houston is the first professional ballplayer to be killed in WW II. The minor league batting champion, who became a full-time fighter pilot following the attack on Pearl Harbor, dies at the age of 25 when his Republic P-43 Lancer crashes at Washington’s McChord Field, after leading a sortie along the West Coast, looking for Japanese submarines.
1944 Bob Coleman, who filled in for Casey Stengel last season when the Boston skipper suffered a broken leg when hit by a taxi cab trying to cross a street, is named to replace the ‘Old Perfessor’ as the manager of the Braves. Considered one of the most successful managers in minor league history, the 54 year-old Indiana native could not work his magic with the wartime club, and after finishing sixth followed by a slow start in 1945, the former big league catcher will be replaced by Del Bissonette, one of his coaches.
1980 Marv Davis’s plan to buy the A’s from Charlie Finley is thwarted when the American League offers to buy out the Oakland Coliseum lease. The billionaire businessman, who will also make failed bids for the NFL’s Cowboys and Broncos, had hoped to move the franchise from the City by the Bay to Denver.
1981 Arbitrator Raymond Goetz officially declares Carlton Fisk a free agent, citing the Boston Red Sox had violated the CBA by not mailing the catcher’s contract by the December 20th deadline as specified in the agreement. Next month, the 33 year-old future Hall of Fame backstop will signed a $3.5 million deal to catch for the White Sox this season.
2002 For the first time in its history, Major League Baseball will own a team after acquiring the Expos from Jeffrey Loria. The former Montreal owner sells the Expos for $120 million, then buys the Florida Marlins for $158.5 million with the difference being made up with a loan from major league baseball.
With unanimous approval of the sale of the Florida Marlins to the former owner of the Montreal Expos, Jeffrey Loria, and Major League Baseball’s acquisition of the Montreal franchise, personnel changes are announced. The Expos name Frank Robinson as manager, Tony Tavares as president of the club with Omar Minaya becoming the major leagues’ first Hispanic general manager, and south of the border former Expo manager Jeff Torborg will manage the Marlins with former Expos’ interim general manager Larry Beinfest as the GM and David Samson will take over the duties of team president.


2003 Federal Judge James Holderman has given the Cubs and the owners of rooftop bleachers which provide fans a view of Wrigley Field a year to settle their dispute. The team believes the seating provided above the field via rooftops directly competes with the club for ticket sales revenue and the surrounding neighbors, in turn, have not been sympathetic to the team’s expansion plans.
2007 The Major League Baseball Players Association asks the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its 2-1 decision which would allow the names and urine samples of more than 100 players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs to be made available to authorities investigating the use of steroids in baseball. The 1993 samples were collected by MLB in an effort to gauge the prevalence of steroid use with players and owners agreeing the results would be confidential.
2007 After a year of negotiations, an agreement is reached on the sale of the Braves from Time Warner to Liberty Media. Seventy percent of the owners must approve the deal which includes the retention of general manager John Schuerholz and manager Bobby Cox.
2008 The Twins, in an effort to add experience to a young rotation, sign Livan Hernandez (11-11, 4.93) to a $5 million, one-year deal with an additional $2 million in performance bonuses. The 32 year-old right-hander from Cuba will also add innings to a staff depleted due to the departures of starters Johan Santana and Carlos Silva.
2009 Three days after Alex Rodriguez apologizes for using steroids, commissioner Bud Selig chastises the Yankee superstar, and all the other players, who used such substances, for bringing shame to the game. The third baseman’s apology followed a report that he was one of 104 players who tested positive in tests taken in 2003 to determine the extent of steroid use in the national pastime.
2009 Ervin Santana avoids arbitration, agreeing to a deal with the Angels which could be worth $42 million over the next five years. The 26 year-old right-hander, who posted a 16-7 record with a 3.49 ERA for the AL West Champions last season, is the youngest active hurler with 50 career victories (51-37).
2009 Dan Uggla (.260, 32, 92), eligible for arbitration for the first time, is awarded $5.35 million by the process. The All-star second baseman, who has averaged 30 home runs and 90 RBIs his first three seasons in the majors, rejected the Marlins’ offer of $4.4 million.
2009 Jose Offerman, a former All-Star major league infielder with the Red Sox and Dodgers, is sued by John Nathans for his bat-wielding attack at a minor league game in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Bluefish catcher is seeking $4.8 million in damages against the Long Island Ducks player, claiming the 2007 incident left him with career-ending injuries which include inner ear damage, vertigo, headaches and post-concussion syndrome.
2010 Corey Hart (.260, 12, 48) is awarded a raise from $3.25 million to $4.8 million in the Brewers’ first salary arbitration hearing in a dozen years. In the first case to use the process this year, Milwaukee’s offer of $4.15 million to their 27 year-old right-fielder, an All-Star in 2008, was rejected by a panel of arbitrators.
2010 Tim Lincecum, two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, reaches a preliminary agreement on a $23 million, two-year deal with the Giants prior to the start of a scheduled arbitration hearing. The 25 year-old right-hander has compiled a 40-17 record along with an ERA of 2.90 ERA during three big league seasons with San Francisco.
2011 “Doris From Rego Park” makes its debut on Jonathan Schwartz’s weekend program on WNYC-FM. The song, written and performed by Don Rosler, is a tribute to Doris Bauer, the Mets fan who became a New York institution as a late-night caller to WFAN sports radio before she died in 2003.

2014 Derek Jeter, who will turn 40 during in June, announces the 2014 season will be his final one, informing his fans via a lengthy Facebook post. The 13-time All-Star shortstop acknowledged that his numerous injuries have taken their toll, making the game more of a struggle and less enjoyable.


Here’s a look at This Date in Baseball History
1915 New York Giants president Harry Hempstead rejects the International League’s request for permission to put a team in the Bronx. The shift of the IL’s Jersey City to the nearby borough, already the home to the Yankees, was conceived as a way to prop up the failing minor league franchise and perhaps to thwart the invasion of the Federal League into the Big Apple.
1974 The first arbitration ruling in baseball history is decided in favor of Twins’ hurler Dick Woodson. The right-hander, the first player to invoke the new free agency clause, is awarded the $29,000 he asked for rather than having to take Minnesota’s offer which was $6 thousand less.
1977 The Cubs trade two-time NL batting champ Bill Madlock along with Rod Sperring to the Giants for Bobby Murcer, Steve Ontiveros and a minor leaguer. During the 1979 season, San Francisco will trade the fiercely competitive ‘Mad Dog’ to the Pirates, where he play a major role in the team’s world championship that season, and will win two more batting crowns during his seven-year tenure in Pittsburgh.
1982 Two months after the trade was announced, the Ozzie Smith agrees to go to the Cardinals to complete the December deal that finally sends Gary Templeton to the Padres. An outside arbitrator, Tom Roberts, will determine ‘the Wizard of Oz’s’ Cardinal salary before the season starts, awarding the light-hitting Gold Glove shortstop $450,000 rather than the $750,000 he requested.
1985 Kent Hrbek signs a new contract, making him the Twins’ first million dollar player. The Minnesota first baseman was the runner-up for the American League Most Valuable Player last season after batting .311 along with 27 homers and 107 RBIs for the second-place club.
On This Day in Baseball History in 1987 After refusing the Mets’ $800,000 one-year offer, World Series MVP Ray Knight signs with the Orioles for $475,000 plus incentives and an option for an additional year.
1997 General Mills, the makers of Wheaties, unveils three new Jackie Robinson cereal boxes to be sold in stores nationwide. The Dodgers’ Hall of Fame infielder will be the first athlete to be honored on all three varieties of Wheaties: Original Wheaties, Honey Frosted Wheaties, and Crispy Wheaties ‘n’ Raisins.

2001 As thousands cheer, Three Rivers Stadium, 30 year-old home of the Pirates, is imploded. Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th hit as well as Mike Schmidt’s 500th career home run are part of the historic park’s legacy.

2005 Jose Canseco’s controversial book, Juiced, is made available in certain markets in anticipation of his appearance on CBS’s Sixty Minutes. The self proclaimed godfather of the steroids in baseball alleges Mark McGwire, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez all used illegal performance-enhancing

2005 The Mets announce their former slugging All-Star and often-troubled Rookie of the Year, Darryl Strawberry, will rejoin the team as a special outfield instructor during spring training. He will also join former 1986 World Champion teammates Gary Carter, Lenny Dykstra, Howard Johnson and Tim Teufel at Shea Stadium on Feb. 27 when single-game tickets go on sale.
2006 Avoiding an arbitration hearing, starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano (14-6, 3.26) and the Cubs agree to a one-year deal worth $6.5 million. After earning $3.76 million last season, the emotional right-hander had asked for $7.2 million, with Chicago offering $6 million.
2007 Avoiding salary arbitration, AL’s reigning batting champ Joe Mauer (.347, 13, 84) and the Twins come to terms on a $33 million, four-year contract. The hometown 23 year-old All-Star backstop is the first catcher to lead the majors in batting average and the first to win the batting title in the American League.
2008 Following in the footsteps of fan favorites Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio agrees to a three-year personal services contract with the Astros. The 42 year-old retired ballplayer spent his entire 20-year career in Houston, leading the club in games, at-bats, hits, doubles, and total bases.
2009 The Nationals sign slugger Adam Dunn to a two-year, $20 million deal. The 29 year-old left-handed free-agent, who played for Arizona last season, will bat cleanup for Washington, replacing Nick Johnson at first base.
2010 Ernie Harwell, the long-time voice of the Tigers, will receive the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting during WFUV Radio’s Spring Gala at Fordham University. The 92 year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster is the third recipient of the VSLA, named for the former alum and Dodger broadcast icon, joining inaugural honoree Vin Scully (2008) and Dick Enberg (2009).