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 long-time WFNY commentariat member, CB Everett.
GREG: If you were asked for a particular memory involving the Cleveland Indians, what comes to mind?
CB EVERETT: Well, two eras come to mind- one is circa 1985. Of course, the Tribe was a dumpster fire of a team. I remember the theme… a chorus of an excited “Tribe 85… this is my team!”
GREG: Nice. I remember “Come Alive With the Tribe in 75.”
CB EVERETT: So Ernie Camacho was doing a meet and greet as a promotion, which probably bumped the attendance from 5000 to the mid 7000 range that day. I was in line with my little brother, and when it was my turn, the Indians rep urged me to sit on Big Ern’s lap. Being in fifth grade and not wanting to sit on a man in tights’ lap for some reason, I politely declined, but they urged and shoved me forward and voila… awkward photo memories!
Generally, I remember being warned off the Tribe in those days by elders (ala “you’ll shoot your eyes out kid”). “Beware getting sucked in by the Tribe.” I learned what the “June swoon” was all about. I never listened. In 86 and 87, that young squad showed so much promise, and I loved those teams–but yeah, those guys were sad trombones… my first dose of Cleveland sports disappointment.
GREG: What were your impressions of Camacho, at that stage in your life? What was he like when you briefly met him? That story does sound pretty awkward.
CB EVERETT: I don’t have any real memories of him other than he seemed as awkward about it as I was (probably worse because he’s like, I’m an MLB player and I have to do this shit to get a few thousand kids in the seats on a crappy team). I think that sentiment is captured well in the awkward Polaroid I sent. I remember thinking he was kind of ridiculous looking with that mustache and the gold rimmed glasses and the curly Hall and Oates mullet look. Plus that name was always so comical to me. All of that ridiculousness coupled with that nostalgic place in my heart for that era is why I have him as my WFNY profile pic.
GREG: What kind of car were you riding in when you were in fifth grade, and what were you listening to?
CB EVERETT: Our family truckster was an early 80s Ford F-150… perfect for a family of 4! It had just a long bench seat. On a rare family vacation, my brother would sleep on the floor and I’d lay on the top bench. On rides around town, we’d get to ride in the back bed. It was Ohio in the 80’s… I’m pretty sure they didn’t have seat belt or child safety laws yet?
The truck was a two-tone, with a dark charcoal-blackish body and a lighter body gray trim if I remember right, with some tacky red pin striping. It had a manual tranny. I never ended up driving it. But, I kind of operated it one winter. My stepdad would plow driveways, and one winter he had a sling on his right arm from a dislocated shoulder–so I’d ride shotgun and shift the gears for him. Ready, and go- down to second gear! Wasn’t easy.
I recall my music of the time was soft emo Tears for Fears and Mister Mister types, Phil Collins, Miami Vice, some Motley Crue… early hair glam rock.
GREG: Tears For Fears- they were really talented. I remember I had taped an audio cassette of their first album. On the other side, I’d taped the first Sting solo album. So on one side, it started out, “Shout, shout, let it all out.” And the other side started, “Free, free, set them free.” That still gives me a chuckle for some reason. I guess because I recall friends laughing about it.
You mentioned there were two Indians eras that come to mind?
CB EVERETT: Around 1992. The team was just as craptastic, and we’re talking the last throes of the Old Muni stadium.
GREG: I remember being amazed at 91- the Tribe had dragged its fans through a 21st Century-Brownsian era of suck- and now, to top it off, they’d just suffered a season-record number of losses. Of course, it was a ‘darkest-just-before-the-dawn” type of thing.
CB EVERETT: A couple HS buddies and I would leave school and head down to the stadium where 16-17 year old boys apparently looked old enough to get served a couple beers (those poor, poor desperate vendors). We’d buy the cheapest seats in the house and then sit wherever we wanted. You’d just have to look confident and give a Jedi mind trick wave of the hand to the usher, and then you were sitting by the dugout or behind the plate. Once, we were watching batting practice from the lower first base level and Paul Sorrento was ripping foul balls like mad, balls rattling around in the empty seats. With drinks swishing in one hand, we and a bunch of similarly situated rats scurried around to retrieve the balls. Finally, I got my hands on one. Then we decided to sit behind home plate for the game. We were being “colorful” with our language, heckling players, etc. Just engaging in general jack assery for a couple of innings. I think we must have made a comment about the managing, because then a fed up and fiery Sharon Hargrove sitting behind us scolded us to watch our mouths. We apologized and complied.
GREG: Did you know that was Sharon Hargrove, before she scolded you?
CB EVERETT: No, we had no idea who she was at first. We just thought it was some random lady who’d had enough of us dumbasses! We were generally decent kids, but there was this adolescent freedom when we went down to the Muni that somehow turned us into Lord of the Flies. This lady snapped us into check, and then I believe it was another lady (wife) sitting around us who informed us that it was Mrs. Hargrove.
Then a bored looking scout from Seattle, who was sitting near us, asked us about Sorrento. I showed him the ball, and then proceeded to talk about how badly Paulie sucked. Pull hitter, poor fielder, strikes out a lot, looks like a goon from a bad 80s movie. We can’t say enough bad things for some reason. Poor Paulie. And then the crazy thing is that sometime later, the Mariners ended up acquiring him. Afterwards, a buddy of mine and I decided to “split” the souvenir ball, so we power sawed it in half and made a mess. Yeah, we were bright kids.
QUIZ: PAUL SORRENTO, OR ERNIE CAMACHO?
Here’s a fun quiz, for the readers.
The answer to each question is either Paulie, or Ernie.
Answers at the bottom. Good luck!
1) This player was a member of the Twins when they won the World Series in 1991.
2) This player said that he got headaches when playing because he never blinked while in a game.
3) This player helped defeat the Toronto Blue Jays in one of the most notable comebacks in Cleveland Indians history.
4) This player was concerned about his locker being by the door, since he thought it would make it easier for the team to get rid of him.
5) This player was acquired by the Tribe for Oscar Munoz and Curtis Leskanic.
6) This player always thought he was on the edge of calamity. After having bone chips removed from his elbow, he kept them in a jar in his locker to remind himself how lucky he was to survive the procedure.
7) This player had been a member of the Florida State Seminoles baseball team.
8) When this player and several others had each signed 100 photos for charity, he said his arm was sore from signing them all at once. He said, “The other guys were smarter than me. They signed their pictures a few at a time. I did mine in one day. That was a big mistake.”
9) This player’s bat was switched in the umpire’s room in Chicago by Ross Grimsley for Albert Belle’s corked bat.
10) This player was acquired by the Tribe from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Rick Manning trade.
GREG: I love the visual of kids getting baseball tickets and moving to better seats. A PR guy like Bill Veeck would have promoted that, in some structured way. I like how these days, there are places to visit at the Jake (yes, that’s what I called it). The Corner, the bullpens, etc.
I absolutely love your Sorrento story. I seem to recall him as the lefty part of the Herbert Perry platoon at first base. Perry didn’t hit much, but he seemed to be the only guy to make loud noises hitting off of Randy Johnson. He’d only hit them foul, but still.
CB EVERETT: I had my first car at that time: a powder blue and dark blue two-toned 1982 Buick Century. It was awful. It would stall literally every time you stopped pressing the gas- so at lights, you’d have to press the brake and at the same time give it gas with the other foot. Like driving with a clutch. Plus, it smelled like antifreeze inside. It’s amazing a single girl ever sat in that thing. I think the soundtrack of the time was Salt-N-Pepa, NWA, LL Cool J, and Guns-N-Roses.
GREG: That’s funny about how you needed to keep the gas and brake pressed at the same time.
You reminded me about a car that my best friend in college had. It was beat to crap, and it had the same stalling problem. I used the car some, and got used to shifting the automatic transmission into Neutral while rolling down the street, so I could rev the gas to avoid stalling. Once, I did that while my friend was in the car- only, I accidentally moved the stick shift past Neutral and for a split second, had it in reverse. My friend, um, wasn’t pleased.
CB EVERETT: Another trick was to put it in park and rev it, and then pull it out of park while revving and drop it right into drive (one of those cheap little shifter arms that they used to attach to the steering column).
GREG: Hey, help me out on the music. I am completely out of my element on Salt-N-Pepa, NWA, LL Cool J, and Guns-N-Roses. The names are familiar, but I was into my 30s in the 90s and that stuff wasn’t my thing.
CB EVERETT: 1991-1992 was a weird musical space. I’d grown up listening to classic rock and 80s hair glam rock but the landscape was changing. Guns-N-Roses was on its last hurrah with Use Your Illusion but this was pre-grunge era– and old fashioned guitar rock was in a major lull, ushering in rap and R&B to the mainstream.
NWA was straight unapologetic gangster rap. Really hardcore and filthy stuff, shot out of a cannon from the west coast. Every kid 13-18 was trying to get their hands on the music at the time, and the Tipper Gores of the world were trying to censor it (thus fueling the demand). We’re white Catholic school kids in a podunk suburban town outside of Cleveland with no business relating to the music–and yet can’t get enough. This was our ‘dudes driving around town thinking we’re badass’ type of music.
Other music at the time- like Salt-N-Pepa Let’s Talk About Sex, C&C Music Factory, LL Cool J, etc was light poppy kind of music–the stuff we’d put on with our HS girlfriends or hear at dances. Every once in a while a Baby Got Back or Ice Ice Baby would light up the charts.
GREG: Thanks CB- and I appreciate the photo.
CB EVERETT: Sure- I think the moral of this story, if there is one, is the Tribe sucked my entire childhood, but I wore really amazing pastel clothing.
QUIZ: PAUL SORRENTO, OR ERNIE CAMACHO?
All of the odd numbered answers are Paulie, and all of the evens are Ernie.
Source for the Ernie Camacho quiz answers above: The Sporting News.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.