Since joining Major League Baseball in 1901 as a charter member of the American League, the Cleveland Indians (then the Cleveland Blues) have appeared in five World Series, claimed two World Championships, and hold the record for division titles in the American League Central Division, winning seven since the creation of the division in 1994.
Although the Indians have had their ups and downs during their 110 year history (mostly downs recently), there have been several unforgettable seasons in franchise history, demonstrated by the 10 championship banners hanging above the mezzanine section at Progressive Field. The following is the first of a 10-part series chronicling the 10 seasons that brought joy to the hearts of a city that has frequently been disappointed by professional sports.
1920 World Champions
If there was ever a baseball team that deserved to win the World Series, it was the 1920 Cleveland Indians, led by player-manager Tris Speaker. On August 16, Indians shortstop Ray Chapman was hit in the head by a pitch in a late afternoon game in New York against the Yankees. The pitch fractured Chapman’s skull and he died the next day. The death of Ray Chapman was a devastating blow to Cleveland’s championship hopes, yet the Tribe responded by taking first place on September 16 and never looked back, winning the American League pennant by two games over the Chicago White Sox.
The 1920 Cleveland Indians boasted excellent pitching with two 20-game winners, Stan Coveleski and Ray Caldwell, and a 30-game winner, Jim Bagby, who went 31-12 in 48 starts, posting a 2.89 ERA. The offense was just as dangerous with Tris Speaker batting .388 with 107 RBIs, Ray Chapman batting .303 until his death, and Chapman’s replacement, rookie Joe Sewell batting .329.
1920 World Series: Games One and Two
The 1920 World Series put the Indians against the National League champion Brooklyn (Robins) Dodgers. Despite having to open the series in Brooklyn, Cleveland starter Stan Coveleski allowed only one earned run in nine innings, claiming the victory and giving the Indians a 3-1 win in Game One.
Game Two also took place in Brooklyn, this time with less favorable results for the Tribe. The Indians were only able to record two extra-base hits and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, losing Game Two 3-0 and tying the 1920 World Series at one game apiece.
Cleveland’s offensive struggles continued in Game Three, also in Brooklyn. The Indians recorded only three hits and one run. Cleveland starter Ray Caldwell did not make it out of the first, allowing two runs in only one-third of an inning. Tribe relievers held the Dodgers scoreless for the remainder of the game, but their efforts were wasted, losing Game Three by a score of 2-1.
Games Four and Five
With Brooklyn holding a one game lead, the series moved to Cleveland for the first time, and the Indians took full advantage of playing on their home field. Game One winner Stan Coveleski pitched another gem, allowing only one run in nine innings. Cleveland’s offense appeared for the first time in the series, plating five runs on 12 hits to even the 1920 World Series at 2-2. Game Five played out in a similar fashion, with the Tribe winning 8-1, led by starting pitcher Jim Bagby who also contributed two hits, three RBIs, and a home run on offense.
Games Six and Seven
Cleveland’s offensive woes returned for Game Six, mustering only one run on seven hits. Fortunately for the Tribe, the Dodgers were even worse, managing only three hits off of Indians starter Duster Mails, who recorded four strikeouts and a complete game shutout, giving Cleveland a 4-2 series lead.
Needing only one more win to bring Cleveland its first World Championship, the Indians again turned to their ace, Stan Coveleski. Coveleski continued his dominant World Series pitching performance by throwing a complete game shutout, lowering his World Series ERA to 0.67, and claiming his third victory of the series.
The Indians 3-0 win in Game Seven earned the Tribe a 5-2 victory in the 1920 World Series and brought Cleveland its first World Championship, a feat the city would wait 28 years to enjoy again.
For more of the 10-part series chronicling the Cleveland Indians’ championship history and other work from this author click here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_indians “Cleveland Indians” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO192010050.shtml “October 5, 1920 World Series Game 1, Indians at Dodgers” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO192010060.shtml “October 6, 1920 World Series Game 2, Indians at Dodgers” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO192010070.shtml “October 7, 1920 World Series Game 3, Indians at Dodgers” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE192010090.shtml “October 9, 1920 World Series Game 4, Dodgers at Indians” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE192010100.shtml “October 10, 1920 World Series Game 5, Dodgers at Indians” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE192010110.shtml “October 11, 1920 World Series Game 6, Dodgers at Indians” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE192010120.shtml “October 12, 1920 World Series Game 7, Dodgers at Indians” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1920_WS.shtml “1920 World Series ‘” Cleveland Indians over Brooklyn Robins (5-2)” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CLE/1920.shtml “1920 Cleveland Indians Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics” Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
http://www.netshrine.com/willcarroll.html “Overshadowed: The 1920 Cleveland Indians” Will Carroll. Retrieved August 20, 2010.