General, Indians

Tribe, Tunes and Transport, One Fan’s Memories: Circa 1986

Greg Swindell Baseball Cards

Each installment of this series is presented as a snapshot of a specific recollection involving the Cleveland Indians, along with thoughts on what (s)he was driving and the music (s)he was listening to.

Today, our edited discussion is with Paul.

Included below is a 1986 Indians quiz, which you are welcome to try.

GREG: If you were asked for a particular memory involving the Cleveland Indians, what comes to mind?

PAUL: Hm, well, Tony Pena’s home run in the 13th inning to win Game 1 of the ALDS in 1995 was a highlight. Zane Smith was the pitcher. It was really late in the evening, as the game had been delayed a couple times by rain. It was on a 3-0 pitch. I heard that the third base coach (Jeff Newman) had given Pena the “take” sign but he jumped on it. First playoff win since 1948.

I think that was the game in which Albert flexed his bicep at the Red Sox. The Tribe was down 4-3 in the 11th, and Belle hit a leadoff home run to tie it up. Boston asked the umps to check his bat (he’d been infamously caught using a doctored bat in Chicago in 1994) and he… reacted.

GREG: I used to joke about whether anyone had ever seen Tony Pena and Cheech Marin in the same room together. Or if they were twins, maybe. Their mustaches were identical.

PAUL: Another vivid Tribe memory was attending Greg Swindell’s first start. He was going to be a superstar. A big lefty from Texas, which was where some good pitchers came from. I called my dad at work (which, come to think of it, he probably didn’t really appreciate), and I begged him to come from downtown all the way back to Willowick to get me and go back down to the game. We were so excited, and then it started and they lost, 24-5.

GREG: Was Swindell your favorite player as a kid?

PAUL: Actually, my first favorite player as a kid was Tom Veryzer (a shortstop who’d been acquired from the Detroit Tigers in 1977 for Charlie Spikes). We were always optimistic about some pretty bad teams when I was a kid. Then, I loved those late ‘80s teams. Mel Hall was a favorite- I liked his batting stance, with the batting glove sticking out of his back pocket.

You know how there are things you did as a kid that you’d explode over if your own kid would do it? Well, we used to be away from home all day during the summer- our parents just assumed we were in the neighborhood somewhere. Sometimes, we’d take the bus down Lakeshore Boulevard to an Indians game.

The bus cost fifty cents each way, and dropped us off at the Cleveland Library near the stadium. We’d get there really early, and stay very late. The stadium was so old and dumpy, but with the big Chief Wahoo sign there over Gate D near right field, it was so cool. So “big league.” We always spread out in the stands, and rapped the wooden seats to the drum beat. We’d wait outside the players’ exit afterward and get autographs. Cory Snyder signed until everyone got their turn. He’d sign everything- except he refused to sign SportsClick cards. I wish I knew what his objection to those was.

One time, we missed the last bus back and walked the several miles to our neighborhood. It took hours, but our parents never knew. (Several times, we’d walk the 4-5 miles to Euclid Square Mall and back. We didn’t really know the way so we’d take East 305th south, to the railroad tracks, and walk the tracks!)

GREG: I looked up that Swindell game. It was on a Thursday- 8/21/1986, and the attendance was over 26,000. The 25 runs scored were the most the Tribe allowed that year. Do you remember the Red Sox starting pitcher?

PAUL: Oil Can Boyd?

GREG: Yup. I think Dennis Eckersley gave him that nickname.

PAUL: “Boyd”?

GREG: Haha. The Red Sox were first in the division at the time- the Indians were 6th, but they had a 62-60 record. No team in the division was under .500 at the time. Do you remember the long winning streak the Tribe had early that year?

PAUL: Yeah, it reached ten games. The entire city caught fire with the Tribe. Here’s a true story: my mom bought a stupid parakeet. We named it Wahoo. The Indians went on their streak. The parakeet died. Then the Indians lost.

GREG: Really? That’s horrible!

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BONUS QUIZ: 1986 CLEVELAND INDIANS
Just for fun. Resources include baseball-reference.com

Here are the answers to the following questions. Each name will be used, but only once.
The intent was to make this doable, yet challenging. Don’t look them up until you try!
And, cover the answers below until you finish!

Tony Bernazard
Julio Franco
Cory Snyder
Pat Tabler
Mel Hall
Andre Thornton
Otis Nixon
Brett Butler
Joe Carter
Brook Jacoby

1) Who led the 1986 team in home runs (29), RBIs (121), and slugging percentage (.514)?
2) Who was second on the team in slugging percentage (.500)?
3) Who led the team in stolen bases (32) and walks (70)?
4) 2 players each had 30 doubles. Who also led the team by far in double plays (28)?
5) Which hitter led the team with 137 strikeouts, and also had the most errors (25)?
6) Who led the team in intentional walks (8) and OPS (.839)?
7) Who led the team in batting average (.326) and OBP (.368)?
8) Who was the only regular not to hit a triple?
9) Name one of the 3 switch hitters on the team (one would be a repeated name)?
10) Who had almost as many games played (105) as plate appearances (110). He had 23 stolen
bases, and no home runs.

And one more:
11) How many nicknames can you come up with, from that team?
Perhaps you’ll come up with more than I.
List them in the comments below.

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GREG: So what were you guys listening to at the time?

PAUL: I think we rarely listened to music in the car, but when we did I guess it was 107.9. Only the burnouts and the stoners listened to MMS haha.

GREG: HEY.

PAUL: My dad listened to 3WE a lot.

GREG: Did you or anyone you knew call into the Pete Franklin show?

PAUL: Dad did. Pete Franklin once called him an intelligent man. I think he was happy about that. We used to laugh and get excited when kids would call and he’d be mean to them.

GREG: When I was a kid, and we’d huddle on the playground before school every day and talk about the previous night’s TV shows (Happy Days was one), we’d also talk about Pete Franklin’s show. One kid was a hero for calling him once- everyone one knew he hated kids calling in. I thought it was hilarious when someone would call him “Frank Petelin.” Mostly because it set him off.

Bruce

You are a big Bruce Springsteen fan, right? When did that begin?

PAUL: Probably about 1986, actually. My parents had a Born in the USA cassette, and we had a portable cassette player rigged up in the glove box of our car at the time, a 1984 Chevy Cavalier that my mom had gotten new. I got a three-disc set of live songs and by the time I saw my first live show, I was hooked. I’ve seen him four times so far.

One thing that sticks out from that CD set was him telling a story about him and his dad. I like the stories. I DO NOT like the political crap.

GREG: What Springsteen songs are some of your favorites, live?

PAUL: Badlands, The Rising, Born to Run.

GREG: I’m not huge on Springsteen’s entire career, but his Hammersmith Odeon live set is in my rotation. Everything is great, especially Thunder Road with just the piano backing him. And She’s the One, with the harmonica.

So—a newer 1984 Cavalier, huh?

PAUL: Yeah, when Mom got that, Dad upgraded and got her car, a Chevy Impala. A real boat. Bye bye to the old, boxy, 1964 Chevy Nova.

Nova

GREG: We were a Chevy/GM family too. I once had an ‘80s Cavalier- when it was much older. It was no-frills, with a standard transmission. I had to kick start it, but it was so light I could do that almost anywhere by pushing it. The emergency brake also didn’t work, and leaving it parked in gear wouldn’t guarantee it would stay still. So I often left it parked on the street, leaning against a tree.

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WFNY readers are encouraged to participate in this series- let me know below if you have a Tribe memory you’d like to share, or email me at greg.popelka@gmail.com.

Thank you for reading.

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ANSWERS TO THE QUIZ

Tony Bernazard 9. (Chris Bando or Otis Nixon are correct as well)
Julio Franco 4. (If you thought he had the most errors: so did I. Not in 1986.)
Cory Snyder 2. (His future was not yet in his past.)
Pat Tabler 7. (Incredible hitting success with men on base. ’86 was his best year.)
Mel Hall 6. (Acquired him along with Joe Carter in a trade with the Cubs.)
Andre Thornton 8. (Andre was the only regular over 30 in 1986.)
Otis Nixon 10. (Tribe had acquired the speedster in a deal that sent Toby Harrah to the Yankees.)
Brett Butler 3. (Was very nice to get him and Brook Jacoby in the Lenny Barker trade to Atlanta.)
Joe Carter 1. (A gimmee?)
Brook Jacoby 5. (I was shocked to realize he wasn’t as good as I’d thought. About as shocked as I was circa 1990, when I read a quote from Jacoby to the effect that he thought it was good news that a new stadium would be built, but that he wouldn’t be on the team by then.)