Book Review: More Tales from the Tribe Dugout
- Updated: April 10, 2009
Author Russell Schneider is well known to serious baseball fans around Cleveland from his coverage of the Indians in Cleveland newspapers for so many years. Now a freelance writer, Russell has put together two books of Tales from the Tribe Dugout. In the sequel to his first book, Schneider uncovers some not very well known stories about the Indians from various people who were once in the organization. No one is out of lines for Schneider in his journey to find the best stories on the Tribe as even the sons of former trainers were interviewed for this book.
Just as he did in the first version of this book, Russell does a good job introducing each player while still telling their unique story. The stories are presented in alphabetic order from the tale teller’s last name and come in various lengths. The book is truly a quick read as there are also some pictures intertwined to show fans what these players looked like just in case the readers weren’t around when those people were with the Indians.
Former catcher Andy Allanson is the first former member of the Tribe to have his name in print in this version of Russell’s work. Although his tale is not nearly as humorous as some of the others, it does illustrate why Allanson was not an Indian for very long as Russell accounts how Allanson demanded a larger contract after he was productive for just one season and the Indians were unable to give it to him after just one year’s worth of work.
While there are some unknowns featured in the book there are many fan favorites as well. Carlos Baerga, who became a household name in Northeast Ohio during the 1990s, looks back on the day the Indians traded him to the New York Mets by claiming that he was “shocked.” In retrospect though, Baerga does admit that it was probably the best thing for his life and the Indians’ franchise as he was able to find his footing after he left the Tribe.
Of course a book of Indians tales would not be complete without one from Rocky Colavito. There has been some claims around Cleveland that there is a curse of Rocky Colavito on the Tribe, much like the one Boston Red Sox may have had on them after trading Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Not surprisingly, one of Colavito’s tales looks back on the situation that happened when he was traded away from Cleveland despite being one of the best offensive talents the Indians had had in years.
One of the best stories in the book comes from coach Jeff Datz who recalls a time when current Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was the manager of the Indians. Datz claimed that there were many points when Manuel seemed to know what was going to happen next. If only he could have convinced the Tribe brass that he knew how to win, then perhaps he could have won a ring in Cleveland instead of Philadelphia.
It is rare when Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley is not willing to talk openly about part of his career, and his comments in the book are no exception to this rule. Eckersley claims that he truly loved his time in Cleveland and that he actually cried when he was traded to Boston. Despite the fact that he went on to have a great career with the Red Sox and later with the Oakland Athletics, Eckersley stated that he always wondered how things would have worked out for him had he been an Indian for his entire career.
The biggest problem for former pitcher Ed Farmer when he made it to the big leagues was that his father had served as his publicity director. While his dad did not officially have that title, he had filled out all of Farmer’s paperwork and when the media asked what Farmer expected to do that year, he told them huge goals such as winning Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award in the same year. Farmer claimed that he is still not sure how his teammates accepted him because of this.
Although former umpire Richie Garcia was never technically a member of the Indians, he is still featured in the book because of one of the players mentioned above. According to Garcia, he and Colavito had some bad blood brewing between them for no good reason at all. Garcia claims to have thrown Colavito from more games than he had ever thrown anyone else. He does however, tell the story of how the two eventually talked their differences out, further illustrating the power of America’s game.
Current Tribe slugger Travis Hafner is also featured in the book and he tells the now well known story of how he was given the nickname “Pronk” when he was in the minor leagues. He also tells a humorous account of a time when he hit for the cycle and he felt like he was flying around the basis for his triple only to claim when he watched the tape that he must be one of the slowest people in baseball history.
Overall, Schneider’s book is interesting for all fans of baseball, but obviously holds true to more of those who know something about the history of the Indians than those who do not. That said, most baseball fans can appreciate entertaining stories about the game of baseball no matter where they are coming from. Even though it is a book about members of the Indians, many of the stories are accounts of players who were from different teams or who played for many different major league franchises.
The Grade: 3.75/5
Bill Jordan is a contributor to BaseballReflections.com. He can be reached by e-mail at BillJordaniv@yahoo.com.