Book Review: Whatever Happened to “Super Joe”?

Prior to the mid-90s there was no fan base more used to losing than those who rooted for the Cleveland Indians. That being said, there were still many who cared deeply about the team and its players throughout their years in the cellar. While these players never brought home a pennant, or even a division crown for that matter, many of them still made their way into fans’ hearts across Northeast Ohio. In Whatever Happened to “Super Joe”? Catching up with 45 Good Old Guys from the Bald Old Days of the Cleveland Indians, author Russell Schneider brings the reader back to a time when the record wasn’t so great, but the caliber of the people on the team still were.

The book’s namesake is catcher Joe Charboneau. One of the more promising young players during the down trotten years. Joe had his best year in his rookie season, playing in 131 games and winning Rookie of the Year. There was a song and even a book written about him and Indians’ faithful quickly anointed him “Super Joe”. Alas, injuries struck and Charboneau would only play 70 more games with the Indians after his rookie year. For fans outside of the area to realize how bad times were throughout these decades, Charboneau is one of the most famous players from that time and he hit a whopping 29 homeruns for the team.

In addition to Charboneau, readers will be regaled of tales from such Indians “legends” as: Cory Snyder, James “Mudcat” Grant, Max Alvis, Pat Tabler, Tom Candiotti, Brook Jacoby, Rick Watts, Wayne Garland, Tito Francona and Duane Kuiper.

A few of the brief stories include Kuiper talking about his one homerun hit in his eight years in the Majors (one that was actually featured in the 1990s MLB VHS “The 50 Greatest Homeruns in Baseball History), Candiotti who technically has thrown a perfect game, even though it was with a bowling ball, fast starter Gomer Hodge who went 4-for-4 in his first game and told everyone he was thus batting four-thousand and a heartwarming story from Frank Duffy who claimed even though the Indians of the 1970s weren’t any good, it was like one big family to him, unlike the make-up of the other teams he played for.

This book is recommended specifically for Indians fans who are interested in learning more about their history, or even fans of another team who just like to learn more about those who have made the game great over the years. It was a nostalgic read for this reviewer as turning the pages of this book reminded me of opening baseball packs with many of these players in my youth, but not having seen them play, this book helped complete the story for many of these one time Clevelanders.

Schneider does a great job of keeping the reader intrigued throughout the book. There are 45 different players with very unique stories, but none of them are very long meaning the reader can quickly buzz through one or two during a short break. In fact, the whole book is only 209 pages and is an extremely quick read.

The book was published by Grey and Company Publishers in 2006 and the paperback retails for $14.95.

Baseball Reflections Rating: 3.5/5

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