Book Review: Endless Summers

Author Jack Torry had seen many years of nothing from the Cleveland Indians and then, surprisingly, almost out of nowhere, in the mid-1990s, the team took off. Experiencing this rejuvenation led him to write Endless Summers: The Fall and Rise of the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe were a cellar dweller for so long that the success of the team in the 90s turned heads across Northeast Ohio and energized a fan base who had been hibernating for almost 50 years.

While it would be easy to focus on the success of the Indians during the time the book was published in 1996, Torry does a great job of going back in history and taking a look at how and why the Indians were so bad for so long. Torry somewhat methodically, yet in a still entertaining way, takes the reader through the tough times in Cleveland for the baseball club and its fans. He describes ownership decisions, general managers who just couldn’t figure out how to get the right players, or who had a penchant for trading away quality prospects who would turn out to be an asset for another club for a bigger name well past his prime and, of course, unfortunate and unlucky instances that impeded the Tribe from ever making an imprint on the American League.

The author does a good job splitting the book almost in half between the years of pretty much no success and what it took to build a contender. As he describes, so many things fell into place for the Tribe in the 1990s to help them prosper at the right time. They hired a new GM who had new ideas about how to create a competitive club, their prospects developed like they hadn’t in decades with much of their talent coming from their home-grown system and it helped immensely the city agreed to help build a brand-new ballpark to be ready for the 1994 season.

Speaking of the new ballpark, which was, at the time it was built, named Jacobs Field, Torry gives the most in depth account of the steps that were taken behind the scenes and out of the public in order to get the stadium funded, contracted, built and functional in time for the 1994 season. Included with the ballpark was a new arena for the Cleveland Cavaliers to play in, at the time called the Gund Arena. Torry’s telling follows Tom Chema closely, who was responsible for getting the ball rolling and making sure all t’s were crossed in the building of the stadiums. Chema, who later would become president of Hiram College, was a strong source for the author and allows the reader to get a view of the stadium funding and building process that most wouldn’t have.

The book is a bit wordy, but does cover a lot. It isn’t the page turner that some books about the same time period in Cleveland sports are as the content is slightly denser, but it sheds a light on many things that other works about the same topics don’t, so for that reason alone it is worth the read.

The 284-page work was published in 1996 by Diamond Communications, Inc.

Baseball Reflections Rating: 3.5/5

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