June 7, 2015

Cleveland Sports Icons

In 2013, a group of writers at TheClevelandFan.com collaborated on a series of articles profiling the "Top Cleveland Sports Figures, By the Numbers", starting with uniform #1, and going till we ran out of gas, somewhere in the late 30's, I believe. The entire TCF site (which went quiet in early 2014) is now archived here (click on the "Meet the Writers" button in upper right corner to reach individual author archives) but what you'll find below are links to my own contributions to the series.

I was lucky enough to be assigned some of my own favorites of yesteryear, and the writing was a source of great enjoyment for me. Here's hoping some Cleveland sports fans will find them worthwhile too. Others not necessarily involved in our northeast Ohio fanhood are encouraged to check them out as well. From the top...or is it the bottom?...

#1 - Bobby Avila - The last Indians player to win the batting title, Avila hit .341 in the pennant year of 1954, and went on to become one of his native Mexico's favorite sons, serving first as mayor of his hometown of Veracruz, and later as president of the Mexican League.

#5 - Lou Boudreau - Tribe player/manager the last time they won the World Series, and later, a longtime Cubs broadcaster...Boudreau's #5 has been retired by the Indians for many years, which cut down on the competition for the coveted TCF honor.

#9 - Fred Glover - The only hockey player in our local pantheon, Glover was a star for the AHL Cleveland Barons, making him easily the best ever hockey player in this town...and it also qualified him as our city's best ever #9, nosing out some names like Bahr and Baerga.

#13 - Frank Ryan - It was close, with Omar Vizquel being so rightly revered in these parts, so I profile them both here, but Ryan gets the nod...because he won it all...and nobody in the last 51 years has pulled that off.

#17 - Brian Sipe - Like Ryan, Sipe is most famous in our town for one particular day...but in Sipe's case, it was a day of infamy. For those old enough to remember the original Kardiac Kids, though, the memories are of Browns football excitement not often seen since.

#24 - Manny Ramirez - By consensus one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time, Manny put up monster numbers helping get the Tribe close to a World Series title...twice, but he grabbed the money when he had the chance, and wound up with two rings in Boston.

#27 - Herb Score - He made the cover of SI in May of his rookie season....that's how fast Herb Score's playing career began. Sadly, it ended almost as suddenly, but his name still became synonymous with Indians baseball for millions of Clevelanders as the team's beloved broadcaster for 34 years.

#32 - Jim Brown - This was my most ambitious undertaking of the series, taking some 7,000 words to pay tribute to one of my own childhood idols. I'll not spend any more setting it up.

#36 - Gaylord Perry - Most famous for being the master of the spitball, Perry won Cy Young Awards in both leagues, including one here in Cleveland, and had an astonishing 303 complete games in his career.

I'm kind of partial to the pieces on Brown, Score, Perry and Ryan, but your mileage may vary. My entire TCF article archive (2008-2014), which consists mostly of Buckeyes coverage, can be found here.

Posted by dan at June 7, 2015 4:56 PM