Here are some of the important, interesting, or just plain strange events that occurred this week in Tribe history.
June 15, 1980
Forty years ago this week, Indians right fielder Jorge Orta tied the American League record with six hits in a 14-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Municipal Stadium. This marked the seventh time in Tribe history that a player had gathered six hits in a game. The last occurrence was back in 1952 when Jim Fridley accomplished the feat. Only two players since Orta have managed to get six hits in a game, Carlos Baerga and Omar Vizquel.
On this night, Orta had five singles and a double to go along with four runs as the Tribe improved to 29-27. Third baseman Toby Harrah added seven RBIs as the Tribe shelled Twins starter Darrell Jackson. Orta finished the season with a .291 average and made his second All-Star Game. He played only two seasons in Cleveland, 1980 and 1981. Orta finished his 16-year career batting .278 with 130 home runs and a WAR (wins above replacement) of 14.9.
June 18, 1950
On this date, the Tribe set the franchise record for most runs in an inning by plating fourteen against the Philadelphia Athletics in the first inning. Philadelphia’s starting pitcher Lou Brissie labored in this game. He gave up a leadoff double but recorded an out against the next hitter. Unfortunately for the A’s, he proceeded to walk the next five hitters. After back-to-back singles and a sixth walk, Athletics manager Connie Mack replaced him with Carl Scheib. In one-third of an inning, Brissie allowed nine runs on three hits with six walks. Scheib fared a bit better, giving up nine runs, only five earned, while surrendering nine hits and walking three over 2 2/3 innings.
For the Indians, every player batted at least twice in the inning with the exception of starting pitcher Mike Garcia, who cruised to an easy victory. The Indians managed to score that many runs while only recording six hits. Athletics pitchers aided the Tribe’s offense by issuing seven walks. The big hero of the inning was shortstop Ray Boone. The grandfather to Aaron and Bret capped the scoring with a three-run homer off Scheib. He also managed a bases-loaded walk, giving him four RBIs for the inning.
The Indians would not score that many runs in an inning again until 2009 when they scored fourteen in the second inning against the Yankees. The final in that game was 22-4.
Fun fact: Although this game featured 23 runs, the game lasted a mere two hours and eighteen minutes.
June 20, 1951
The Tribe knocked off the Red Sox 14-8 at Fenway Park. Indians second baseman Bobby Avila grabbed the headlines by setting a new team record for total bases in a game with fifteen. Avila collected a single, double, and three home runs, including an increasingly rare inside-the-park home run. Interestingly enough, he managed to collect his five hits against five different Red Sox pitchers.
Bobby Avila played ten seasons with the Indians. While in Cleveland, he batted .284 with 1,236 hits. He was a three-time All-Star for the Tribe, twice finishing in the top ten of MVP voting.
Avila’s record lasted until 1959 when Rocky Colavito belted four home runs against Baltimore.
June 21, 1971
Ken Harrelson is known more for his time as a Chicago White Sox broadcaster. However, The Hawk, as Harrelson is known because of his distinct nose, ended his playing career as a member of the Cleveland Indians to pursue a career in professional golf on this date. He made the decision after rookie Chris Chambliss took over for him at first base. The following year, he played in the British Open, finishing tied for 89th after missing the cut.
This was not the first time Harrelson retired. In 1969, after the Red Sox traded him to the Tribe along with Dick Ellsworth and Juan Pizarro in exchange for Sonny Siebert, Vicente Romo, and Joe Azcue, he announced that he would be retiring. Harrelson thought it was impractical for him to move to another city because of his business ventures. After speaking with MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn and getting a contract adjustment with Cleveland, he decided to come to Cleveland and play. Harrelson finished the season with 30 home runs. While with the Indians, he briefly hosted The Hawk’s Nest, a half-hour TV show on the local CBS affiliate.
After retiring from broadcasting in 2018, Harrelson received the Ford Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting in 2019.