This Week in Tribe History, Part Two

We’re wrapping up This Week in Tribe History from earlier in the week. Part One can be found by clicking HERE!

July 2, 1970

Facing the formidable Baltimore Orioles at Memorial Stadium, Indians first baseman Tony Horton hit for the cycle. This marked the fifth cycle in Tribe history. Horton started things off with a double in the top of the first against Orioles starter Jim Hardin. He followed that up with a triple to lead off the fourth, coming around to score after a Ted Uhlaender double. Horton fouled out in the fifth but got back on track in the seventh with an RBI single to left. He completed his cycle by smashing a homer to deep left off Orioles relief pitcher Pete Richert. Horton ended his night going 4-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the Tribe’s 10-9 victory.

Sadly, this turned out to be one of the last highlights in Horton’s brief career. After showing promise over the previous three seasons, the intense Horton never played again after August 28, 1970. The 25-year-old was believed to have suffered a nervous breakdown. The Los Angeles Times reported that Horton was sent home due to “physical exhaustion.” However, on January 21, 1971, the Tribe announced that he would miss spring training and likely the entire season with an emotional disorder. Horton had been hospitalized since the previous September. In the years following his abrupt retirement, he has made it clear that he has no interest in revisiting his time in baseball.

July 2, 2016

Forty-six years to the day of Horton’s cycle, Rajai Davis hit a cycle of his own against the Blue Jays.  Davis was able to get the hardest hits out of the way early by homering to lead off the game and legging out a triple in the third. He grounded out to end the fifth but bounced back with a double to center in the seventh. Needing just a single heading into the ninth, Davis was able to complete his cycle with a base hit off Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna.

Although the Tribe lost 9-6, ending their 14-game winning streak, his cycle helped cushion the blow. Interestingly enough, Davis did not just hit for the cycle, he hit for the reverse cycle. This marked only the sixth time in MLB history that a player collected a home run, triple, double, and single in that order.

July 4, 2018

Cody Allen earned his 18th save on the season against the Kansas City Royals, preserving a 3-2 victory. Although he allowed a double to Alex Gordon, Allen showed himself to be too much for Royals hitter by striking out the side. Each batter went down swinging. With this save, he reached 140 with the Indians, setting a new franchise record. He surpassed former Tribe closer Bob Wickman.

Allen ended the season with 149 career saves. However, the team allowed him to walk away in free agency after his struggles in 2018. He ended the season 4-6 with an eye-popping 4.70 ERA.

July 5, 1947

Just eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers broke the color barrier in the National League, Larry Doby appeared as a pinch-hitter for the Indians, becoming the first black player in American League history. Unlike Robinson who played in the minors before reaching the Dodgers, Doby became the first player to go straight from the Negro Leagues to the majors.

For years, Tribe owner Bill Veeck had wanted to integrate the AL, and so he purchased Larry Doby’s contract with the Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues on July 3, 1947. The plan was for Doby to play on July 10, a couple of days after the All-Star break. However, a local writer named Bob Whiting published an article revealing Veeck’s intent. Consequently, the team moved up Larry Doby’s first game.

Teammates were not welcoming of the 23-year-old. When he made his way into the clubhouse at Comiskey Park, many refused to look his way or speak to him. Recalling the moment in 2002, Doby said, “I knew it was segregated times, but I had never seen anything like that in athletics. I was embarrassed. It was tough.” During warmups, most of Doby’s teammates ignored him. Second baseman and future Hall of Famer Joe Gordon approached Doby and asked him to play catch. Gordon became one of his closest friends on the Indians. Unfortunately, it did not get much better the next game when Doby had to borrow a first baseman’s glove from a White Sox player because none of his Tribe teammates would lend him one of theirs.

In order to protect Doby, Veeck hired two plainclothes officers prior to his first game. Doby did not start the game but he was finally called upon in the seventh to pinch-hit for Indians pitcher Bryan Stephens. Doby said, “I was so scared. I didn’t even know how many were out.” He later reported that his teeth were chattering from nerves. Facing White Sox pitcher Earl Harrist, Doby struck out and was replaced by pitcher Bob Lemon who pitched the bottom of the seventh.

Doby played sporadically throughout the remainder of the 1947 season, mostly coming off the bench. In 1948, he became a regular in the starting lineup, playing center and right. He had a very productive season, slashing .301/.384/.490 with 14 home runs. As part of the championship team, Doby and Satchel Paige became the first black players to win a World Series.

Larry Doby played parts of ten seasons in Cleveland. When he retired in 1959 while with the White Sox, Doby ended his career with 253 home runs, 970 RBIs, and a slash line of .283/.386/.490. An often overlooked fact in his life is that he became the second black manager in MLB history when he replaced the fired Bob Lemon with the Chicago White Sox during the 1978 season. Unfortunately for him, the team fired him after the season. Doby never had the opportunity to manage again. Eventually, the Hall of Fame recognized his career and impact when the Veteran’s Committee voted him into the Hall in 1998.


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