#TBT: The legacy of Al Rosen with the Cleveland Indians


It’s Throwback Thursday and, in honor of the late Al Rosen, we are taking a look at the legacy left behind by the Hebrew Hammer on the Cleveland Indians.

Rosen spent his entire 10-year career with the Indians, but never garnered serious consideration for the Hall of Fame, mostly because he dealt with injuries and spent four years away from baseball serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

The Hebrew Hammer was one of the most feared sluggers in the 1950s. He was a potent offensive force, but certainly did not lack in the defensive category at the hot corner. According to Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, New York Yankees’ Hall of Fame manager once described Rosen this way:

"That young feller, that feller’s a ballplayer. He’ll give you the works every time. Gets all the hits, gives you the hard tag in the field. That feller is a real competitor."

And a competitor he was.

Rosen was the last Indians’ player to win an AL MVP (1953), nearly winning the Triple Crown, before leading the Tribe to the World Series in 1954, where they eventually lost to the New York Giants. During his MVP season, Rosen hit 43 home runs and tallied 145 RBIs but was edged out by .001 for the batting title. It was arguably the best season ever by a third baseman.

He drove in 100 or more runs in five consecutive seasons, led the league in home runs and RBIs twice and finished his career with 192 home runs and 717 RBIs in 1,044 games. Just two short years after the Tribe’s World Series loss, he was out of baseball altogether and working as a stockbroker — a job he held for nearly two decades. In a 2011 interview for Tablet, Rosen told writer Bethlehem Shoals:

"Things just began to deteriorate physically, and it became a mental thing. Instead of being something I looked forward to every day, the game became something I dreaded."

The Cleveland Indians will wear patches honoring the late Al Rosen on the right sleeve of all their uniforms this season.

Rosen did eventually return to the game, working as the Tribe’s hitting coach and later as an executive for the Yankees, Astros and Giants. He was arguably more accomplished off the field than he was on it. Rosen remains the only person in the history of baseball to win an MVP award and an Executive of the Year Award (1987), which he won when his Giants won the NL West and made their first postseason appearance in 16 seasons.

While not a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Rosen was enshrined in Heritage Park in 2006. He is also a member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (1980), the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the Texas League Hall of Fame (2005).

Leaving the game at age 32, Rosen called his own shots and exited baseball on his own terms. He was one of the last remaining ties to the Tribe’s last World Series title in 1948 before his death on March 13.

The Indians unveiled a design of the No. 7 patch they will wear this season to honor their fallen legend. The circular patch will feature Rosen’s jersey number and will be worn throughout the season on all the team’s jerseys.

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