Remember when the Indians were always awful?
Last place, year after year, never in contention? If you are as old as me, and follow baseball even a little, and you are not from Cleveland, you probably recall those awful 60s and 70s and 80s.
Not from Cleveland? Why “not from Cleveland”? Because reality was both not as bad as that memory, and worse.
The Indians had an amazing season in 1954. 111-43. That’s .721. Best. Ever. Al Rosen, and Larry Doby, Bobby Avila. And Wynn, Garcia, Bob Lemon, Bob Feller. When the ’98 Yankees were amazing (amazing! .704) this was the team they were compared to. They got swept in the World Series, but still, over 700? And while they only won the AL that one year, they finished 2nd 6 more times in the decade.
At the close of the 1959 season, there they are, 89-65, runner-up to the champion White Sox, a really good, though slightly aging team. Know what’s next? Through 1993, that’s the next 34 years, one 3rd place finish, all the rest 4th or lower. 34 years lousy. That’s what so many of us remember. Doormats. We remember that, too. But it’s not true.
During their long skid, the Indians were actually consistently mediocre. There were winning seasons in ’65, ’68, ’76, ’79, ’81, ’86, and a 500 season in the mid-60s. There were only seven last place seasons, and never two in a row. A typical season was 74 – 85 .465 and 5th place out of 7 teams. Consistently mediocre, not always awful.
So what’s the point?
- Baseball trivia is fun.
- Memory is imperfect.
- Be careful of things you are sure of without having to look up.