Here are some of the important, interesting, or just plain strange events that occurred this week in Tribe history.
August 3rd, 1960
On this date, the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers pulled off the rarest trade of all, manager for manager. Known for his love of trading assets, Tribe GM Frank “Trader” Lane traded Joe Gordon for Jimmy Dykes. Gordon, a former player for the Indians and future Hall of Famer, began his managerial career with the Indians during the 1958 season. He took over the final 86 games, leading the team to a record of 46-40. For the 1959 season, the Tribe finished second behind the eventual World Series champion Chicago White Sox, finishing 89-65.
In 1960, the Indians started the season 49-46, sitting in fourth place. Frank Lane decided something needed to be done and shipped Gordon to Detroit. The Tribe’s fortunes did not improve under Jimmy Dykes. They went 44-52 under his leadership, finishing the season 76-78. Dykes managed the Tribe in 1961, earning a record of 77-83. The 1961 season was Dykes’ last as an MLB manager.
Joe Gordon did not fare better with the Tigers. The Tigers went 26-31 under Gordon in 1960, finishing the season 71-83. This was good for sixth place in the American League. Not happy with the result, Detroit promptly fired Gordon at the season’s end. Gordon would go on to manage Kansas City for two stints, 1961 (Athletics) and 1969 (Royals). Gordon never saw the same success managing as he had in Cleveland, where he accumulated a record of 184-151.
August 5th, 2001
Nineteen years ago, Jacobs Field attendees and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball viewers witnessed “The Comeback.” After building what appeared to be an insurmountable lead, the Seattle Mariners watched as Cleveland scored thirteen unanswered runs to win the game 15-14, in eleven innings. The Tribe tied the record for the largest comeback in MLB history. Interestingly enough, the last team to lose after leading by twelve runs was the Indians back in 1925.
The Mariners’ batters started quietly against Dave Burba, going down in order in the first. That all changed in the second and third as Seattle scored twelve runs off Burba and his replacement Mike Bacsik. The Tribe finally got on the board in the fourth inning when Jim Thome hit a two-run blast to make it 12-2. The Mariners responded in the fifth, plating two more runs to push the lead back to twelve.
The Tribe’s rally started in earnest in the seventh. Russell Branyan powered a solo homer to lead off the inning against Seattle starter Arron Sele, while Jolbert Cabrera knocked in two with an RBI-single to make it 14-5. In the eighth, Thome led off the inning with his second home run of the night. Marty Cordova followed two batters later with a two-run shot off Mariners reliever John Halama. Omar Vizquel added an RBI-double off Norm Charlton to cut the deficit to five.
Ed Taubensee singled to start the ninth. Charlton then made quick work of Thome and Branyan. Down to their last out, the Tribe bats decided not to quit. Cordova stroked a line-drive double to deep left field. A walk to Wil Cordero was followed by an Einar Diaz single, scoring Taubensee and Cordova. With Diaz at first and Cordero on second, Kenny Lofton singled to left, loading the bases. Facing Kazuhiro Sasaki, Omar Vizquel cleared the bases with a triple to right, tying the game at fourteen.
After a scoreless tenth, the Tribe brought on the controversial John Rocker to pitch the eleventh. Rocker struck out the side, setting up the Tribe with a chance to send the fans home happy. After a Diaz pop fly, Lofton and Vizquel managed singles off Jose Paniagua. Cabrera stepped up to the plate and calmly lined the first pitch into left, scoring Lofton. Ball game.
Fun fact: The Mariners tied the major league record for wins in a season with 116. Cleveland’s comeback played a part in preventing them from breaking it.
August 7th, 1993
In an 8-6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Bob Ojeda made his season debut. He pitched two innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with a strikeout. The earned run came via a Cal Ripken, Jr home run. For Ojeda, this run-of-the-mill performance was a victory after barely surviving a boating accident that took the lives of teammates Steve Olin and Tim Crews during Spring Training. In an essay for the New York Times, Ojeda said he “escaped being killed by a half-inch.” He credited his survival to the fact he was slouching in his seat when the boat struck a wooden pier during a night-fishing trip. Ojeda suffered severe lacerations on his head which led to the loss of four pints of blood. The physical and mental toll of the accident kept him out for most of the season.
Ojeda signed a one-year deal with the Indians prior to the 1993 season. He made nine appearances, going 2-1 with a 4.40 ERA. He struck out 27 while walking 21. Cleveland let him walk as a free agent at the season’s end.