Sports in Cleveland – 1982

As our list of followers grows, we look back at the year 1982, a year that had its share of excitement in Cleveland. The Browns, Indians and Cavaliers all acquired premier players and the city saw a first in another sport.

July fourth saw the debut of the Cleveland Budweiser 500 at Burke Lakefront Airport. Twenty four cars started the race, but only ten would finish. Bobby Rahal won that year. The legendary Mario Andretti finished second. The race was run under various names for twenty six years in Cleveland.

1982 was a year in which the Browns looked to bounce back from a disappointing season the year before. With their core still intact, the team was able to add players who would help to turn their defense into more of a factor in games.

Chip Banks was drafted with the third overall pick. Tom Cousineau was signed to a $2.5 million deal after his rights were obtained from the Buffalo Bills. He had played in the Canadian League for more money than the Bills had offered after starring at Ohio State. With far less fanfare, the Browns signed linebacker Bob Golic, who had been cut by the Raiders.

The player strike in 1982 shortened the season to nine games and concluded with a “Super Bowl Tournament”. The Browns 4 – 5 record was enough to make the tournament and face the number one seeded Raiders. The Browns lost handily, but seemed to be headed in the right direction once again.

Banks was outstanding with 6.5 sacks. Cousineau led the team in tackles for the first of three consecutive seasons. Unheralded Bob Golic made the switch to nose tackle and recorded four sacks. He would go on to be a three time Pro Bowler. Cousineau would never make the Pro Bowl in his career and is often remembered for being acquired with the draft pick that was used on Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly.

The pitiful Cavaliers obtained Lloyd “World B.” Free in a trade for Ron Brewer. While their record was not good, it did improve to 23 – 59. They had consistency at head coach as Tom Nissalke held the position for the entire season.

The Cavs finished in fifth place in their division, but more importantly, Free added excitement. He took his shooting guard position seriously, rarely shying away from a shot.

The 1982 Cleveland Indians had a new look. Bake McBride, obtained in a trade for Sid Monge, was to be a marquee player for the Tribe. He would start in Jorge Orta’s place. Orta was dealt for Rick Sutcliffe. The former Rookie of the Year looked to show he could still be a top of the rotation starter.

The Indians finished 79 – 83 that year, but had numerous outstanding individual performances. Toby Harrah had his best season batting .304 with 25 homers and 78 RBI. Andre Thornton’s line was also arguably his best at .273/32/116. Rick Sutcliffe was tremendous, leading the AL in ERA at 2.96 and going 14 – 8. Lenny Barker won fifteen games. McBride hit .365 in limited action. Injuries would define his career in Cleveland. The record was not what they had hoped for, yet it was an exciting season for the Indians.

1982 saw the debuts of Chip Banks, Bob Golic, Rick Sutcliffe and World B. Free in Cleveland uniforms. While all three teams had losing records, the Browns returned to the playoffs and the Indians appeared to be building a solid team.

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