Here are some of the important, interesting, or just plain strange events that occurred this week in Tribe history.
July 8, 1935
Cleveland played host to the third All-Star Game on this date. A record crowd of 69,812 fans at Municipal Stadium watched the American League defeat the National League 4-1. Shockingly to modern fans, Yankees starter Lefty Gomez pitched six innings, allowing one run on three hits, to earn the victory. The Tribe’s own Mel Harder finished the game for the AL, pitching the final three frames. Bill Walker of the St. Louis Browns picked up the loss for the National League.
The offensive hero of the game was Philadelphia Athletics third baseman Jimmy Foxx who went 2-3 with a home run, a walk, and three RBIs. If the All-Star Game MVP award existed at this time, it is likely that he would have been the recipient. Other than the previously mentioned Mel Harder, right fielder Joe Vosmik and center fielder Earl Averill also represented the Indians. Vosmik went 1-4 with a run, while Averill did not appear in the game.
July 8, 1997
A crowd of 44,916 rocked the Jake as the AL defeated the NL 3-1, setting an attendance record for the ballpark in the process. After entering as Ivan Rodriguez’s replacement in the sixth inning, catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. stepped to the plate with a runner on second. Facing Shawn Estes, he launched a homer to left to break the 1-1 tie. With this home run, he became the first Tribe player to homer in an All-Star Game since Rocky Colavito managed to do so in 1959. Because of that two-run bomb, Alomar Jr. became the first member of the Indians to win the All-Star Game’s MVP award and the first in baseball history to win the award while playing in front of his home crowd.
Jim Thome, Albert Belle, and David Justice also made the All-Star team for the Indians, but only Thome had a chance to bat, going 0-1. Although he blew the save by allowing a game-tying home run in the top of the seventh inning, Kansas City pitcher Jose Rosado picked up the win. As he would do so many times in his career, Mariano Rivera earned the save.
July 9, 1948
Two days after signing with the Indians on what could have controversially been his 42nd birthday, Satchel Paige made his MLB debut in a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Browns in Cleveland. Paige tossed two scoreless innings, allowing two hits while striking out one. The seemingly ageless right-hander had spent his entire career in the Negro Leagues, most recently with the Kansas City Monarchs, before signing with the Tribe.
Upon making his debut, Paige became the oldest rookie in major league history. The Indians used him in relief and as a starting pitcher for the second half of the season. He finished the 1948 campaign 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA. He earned a save and pitched two shut-outs. In the World Series, Paige pitched two-thirds of an inning, setting down both hitters he faced.
July 9, 2019
Becoming just the fifth pitcher in the last 40 years to win the All-Star Game MVP award, Shane Bieber dazzled the hometown crowd by striking out the side in the fifth inning during the AL’s 4-3 victory. He set down Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte, and Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. in order. By winning the MVP award in front of the home crowd, Bieber joined the aforementioned Sandy Alomar Jr. and Pedro Martinez as the only players to accomplish this feat.
Bieber was not originally selected to make the AL All-Star team. He was a late addition, replacing Rangers starting pitcher Mike Minor who pitched the Sunday before the game. The fans voted in Carlos Santana as a starter at first base while Francisco Lindor and Brad Hand earned spots as reserves. Santana and Lindor went a collective 0-5, while Hand scuffled in his inning of relief, allowing two runs on two hits with two walks.
This was the sixth time Cleveland hosted the All-Star Game, the most times for a city with only one MLB team.
July 12, 1949
On this date, Larry Doby of the Indians along with Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe of the Dodgers made history as the first black players to play in the MLB All-Star Game. Of the four, Robinson had the most impact, going 1-4 with a walk and three runs. Ebbets Field in Brooklyn played host as the American League beat the National League 11-7, taking advantage of five NL errors.
Stan Musial and Ralph Kiner slugged home runs for the losing side. After recently returning from an injury, Joe DiMaggio propelled the AL offense, going 2-4 with a double and three RBIs. Virgil Trucks of the Tigers earned the win, while Don Newcombe picked up the loss. With the win, the AL improved its record to 12-4, continuing its run of dominance in the early years of the All-Star Game.
Along with Doby who went 0-1, the Tribe had four other players selected to the game, including pitcher Bob Lemon, left fielder Dale Mitchell, second baseman Joe Gordon, and catcher Jim Hegan. Mitchell went 1-1 with an RBI-double, and Gordon managed a hit in two at-bats with a run. Lemon and Hegan did not play.