This week in Cleveland Indians history includes saying goodbye to a great manager, goodbye to a hall of fame pitcher, and goodbye to a baseball for the first and last time.
A look back at some of the highlights from this week in Cleveland Indians history.
We start with some news that signaled the end of a great era in Indians history.
August 22, 1956 – End of an Era
News leaks that Al Lopez intends to resign at the end of the season, after six years, one pennant and five second-place finishes. Lopez moves on to the Chicago White Sox, where he wins the 1959 pennant.
The Indians, who averaged 95 wins per season under Lopez, did not win 90 or more games again until 1995.
August 23, 1958 – Indians give away a Hall of Famer
How do you top that? How about this? On August 23, 1958 the Indians gave 35-year-old knuckerballer Hoyt Wilhelm, (2-7 at the time, but with an ERA of 2.49) to the Orioles in a waiver claim.
Wilhelm made four starts for the Orioles, throwing a no-hitter against the Yankees on September 20, 1958.
Over the next ten years, Wilhelm went 83-69, saved 138 games, and recorded a 2.16 ERA.
In 1985, Wilhelm became the first relief pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame.
As a side note – Wilhelm hit a home run in his first at-bat, and never did so again, compiling an .088 career batting average. Maybe that’s why Lane released him.
In Lane’s defense, Wilhelm was released or waived several times in his career. In total, he played for 11 different teams – or 10 if you count the Boston Braves and Atlanta Braves as the same team.
August 29, 1977 – Kuiper has left the building
On August 29, 1977 the Indians hosted the Chicago White Sox. Pitcher Steve Stone faced the Indians lineup in the bottom of the first. Here’s how it went down:
Paul Dade struck out.
Duane Kuiper hit a home run to right.
Buddy Bell flew out to center.
Wait a minute… Kuiper did what?
For the first and only time in his career, Indians second baseman Duane Kuiper hit a home run. Kuiper was well established at this point, having over 1000 at-bats in the majors.
As was his custom, the great Joe Tait went nuts when it happened. So did I.
Back to the game:
After Bell flew out Andre Thornton hit an inside-the-park home run.
Wait…Thornton did what?
For the second time in his career (once with the Cubs, once with the Indians) Andre Thornton went yard without leaving the yard. That means Andre hit twice as many inside-the-park home runs and Duane hit total home runs.
Later in the game Thornton hit a traditional home run. Kuiper was done, for the night and his career. The Indians won easily, 9-2.
Kuiper remains tied with Hoyt Wilhelm on the career HR list.