Thursday, February 28, 2008

Indians Uniform Number - 6 (Part 3 of 3)

Today, I present to you the final installment of the Uniform Number 6 contenders. I will let you mull over the players, and then I will post my pick for All-Time Triber in a #6 uniform sometime this weekend. Enjoy the trip down Tribe-way #6:

Jorge Orta - 2 seasons (1980-81) - Orta may have only played two seasons with the Tribe, but he batted .291 his first year and .272 his second. In 1980, he was selected for the All-Star game, but in those days, not everyone played, so he sat the bench. Over his time with the Indians, he struck out only 10.6% of the time! He was walked just hair more than that. When I was a kid, he was one of my favorite Indians players, and until now, I had not realized that he only played in two seasons with Cleveland. Here's an interesting tidbit: "On June 15, 1980, while playing for the Cleveland Indians, Orta collected 5 singles and 1 double in 6 at bats in a nine inning game, making him one of only 35 American leaguers to have accomplished such a feat" (Wikipedia). I also read that Harry Caray called him "George" Orta, which is funny, because also until now, I thought his name WAS George...

Jose Escobar - 1 season (1991) - Escobar played in 10 games during his MLB career. In his 15 at-bats, he got 3 hits (1 RBI), 1 walk, and 4 strike outs. His time with the Indians and his baseball career ended with a .200 average. I found the image on eBay, and to be honest, I don't even know if it is the same Escobar or not. For the sake of argument, I'll say it is.

Ken Keltner - 12 seasons (1937-1944, 46-49) - Keltner couldn't decide just what number he wanted to wear. He spent 4-1/2 as Number 25, then 3-1/2 as Number 8, and three as Number 6. Figuring out just where to cast him in the voting is going to be tough. Keltner appeared in SEVEN All-Star games and the '48 World Series. He batted in one game his rookie year, and though he was not walked nor did he get a hit, he managed to score an RBI. I have no idea how he managed to do that, so if you know, feel free to chime in. While wearing Number 6 (1947-1949), he scored 175 runs on 362 hits. He had 62 doubles, 9 triples, and 50 home runs, which led to 225 RBIs over the three year span. His average during that time was .262, giving him two all-star appearances and his ALCS amazing feat. Feat, you ask? Keltner had a single, a double, and a three-run homer that went over the Green Monster in the first-ever one-game playoff. Over his entire Tribe career, Keltner's stats include: 5655 at-bats, 735 runs on 1561 hits with 306 doubles, 69 triples, and 163 home runs, all of which led to 850 RBIs. He was walked 511 times and struck out 474 times. He came to play. His Indians career average was .249. And if all that weren't enough, he is the guy whose career is responsible for the "Keltner List" of thought-provoking questions Hall of Fame voters should ask themselves before making a selection. (more info on the Keltner list here) Sidebar: I reference Wikipedia more often than I personally care to, but when it comes to down-and-dirty easy-to-find info, it is hard to beat. Just remember to take everything on "what-the?"-pedia with a grain of salt, okay?

Larry Doby - 10 seasons (1947-56, 58) - I hate to disappoint you, but Doby only wore the Number 6 for part of one season. He wore the Number 14 for every other season (including the pother part of the one he wore Number 6). Because of this, he is listed in the Number 6-wearing players as a matter of being "official," but I am going to save my all-out discussion of him for Number 14. I will say, however, for those that may not know, Doby is the first black baseball player to play in the American League. Jackie Robinson received much of the "fanfare," and I think Doby himself had a lot to do with the muted celebration of his initial appearance in the MLB: "Lawrence, you are going to be part of history." - Indians' owner Bill Veeck "Part of history? I have no notions about that. I just want to play baseball." - Larry Doby (as quoted on

Mark McLemore - Part of 1 season (1990) - McLemore finished out the 1990 season with Tribe, after being let go by the Angels. He batted in 8 games, getting 2 runs on 2 hits and striking out 6 times. He came to the Indians with a .146 average and left the Indians with a .167. That about says it all.

Minnie Minoso - 3+ seasons (1949, part of 51, 1958-59) - Minoso, like Keltner, did not sport the Number 6 for long. In fact, he wore it only during his 8 games in 1951. He wore the Number 18 in '49 and the Number 9 for the other times as a Triber. While wearing Number 6, though, he managed to pull off a .429 average. Now, this was 1951, in which he only had 14 at-bats. Those 14 at-bats netted him 3 runs on 6 hits with 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, a walk, and a strike out. He was also hit by the ball twice. Ouch. I have no idea what the Indians were thinking, but they gave up a guy batting .429 to the White Sox for Lou Brissie. Brissie was a pitcher who had 3.20+ ERA's while with the Tribe. That'll make you scratch your head. We'll be taking a closer look at Minoso's career when we get to Number 9. But, to whet your whistle, except for his rookie year, he never batted less than .302 for the Tribe, and amazingly, he batted that .302 in back-to-back seasons!

Moose Solters - 2+ seasons (1937 - half of 1939) - Julius (as he was born) came to the Tribe from St. Louis in 1937 and knocked out a .323 average. He belted a career-high 20 home runs that season. In 1938, he played in half as many games and his average sank to .201, getting just 40 hits on 199 at-bats. He pulled things together in '39 for a .275 average before being traded back to the St. Louis Browns. He was born and died in my hometown of Pittsburgh.

Paul O'Dea - 2 seasons (1944-45) - What happens when you take an outfielder and ask him to pitch? In his rookie year, O'Dea pitched 4.1 innings and had an ERA of 2.08. The next year, he pitched in one game (2 innings) and gave himself a 13.5 ERA. That's what happens! His rookie year at the plate was a different story. In 173 at-bats, he had 55 hits, 25 runs, 9 doubles with 13 RBIs for a very nice .318. That fell off his 2nd year, dropping to a .235 before he was let go. At least his overall career average was .272, all the while keeping the same number on his jersey. Oh, did I mention he was completely blind in one eye as the result of a freak accident during training camp in 1940? A .272 career with only ONE EYE!?

Ray Mack - 8 seasons (1938-1944, '46) - We first met Mack wearing the number 2. In 1940, Mack was part of the Feller/Boudreau killer defense of the Tribe and managed to get himself on the AL All-Stars with a .283 average (his full-season career high). He is most notably known for saving Bob Feller's 1940 opening day no-hitter with a diving catch for the final out. His eight-season stint with the Indians was a roller coaster ride, ranging from a rookie-year two-game .333 average to a 61-game final Tribe year average of .205. He covered the gamut in-between that time span. As a Triber, he ended up with a .235 overall average that covered 2629 at-bats which produced 264 runs on 612 hits with 107 doubles, 24 triples, and 32 homers for a total of 266 RBIs. He was walked 256 times while sporting an Indians uniform and struck out 350 times. He sported the Number 6 for five of his seasons, but wore #36, #38, and #2 for one season each.

Rocky Colavito - 7+ seasons (5 games in 1955, 1956-'59, 1965-'67) - Colavito was a fickle a jersey number wearer could be. He wore #38 his first three seasons, #6 for the next two, then #21 when he came back in 1965. During his full major league career, Rocky has ELEVEN straight 20+ home run seasons, and actually averaged 32 homers during that time span. Holy smokes! Some folks may not know this, but he actually pitched in a game in 1958. He pitched three innings with 3 walks and one strike out. There were no hits made against him, so he accrued a 0.00 ERA. Talk about an all-star player! Unfortunately, he is also blamed for the drought of post-season appearances by the Tribe until the 90's (refer to Kuenn, another #6 uniform wearer). In his first season with the Tribe, he played in five games. In 9 at-bats, he scored 3 runs on 4 hits with two doubles and two strike outs - a whopping .444 out of the gate! As an Indian, he had only two sub-.250 seasons, 1966 and '67. His overall Indians career stats are full of big numbers: 464 runs on 851 hits with 136 doubles and 190 home runs. He also hit 9 triples (better than one per season average) and brought in 574 RBIs. He was walked almost as often as he struck out (468 walks, 478 strike outs). In just over seven seasons, he earned a .287 batting average with a 369 OBP and a 508 slugging percentage. Oh yeah, he also made six career all-star appearances, half of which were during his Tribe-playing days. We'll take a look at some of his other feats as the countdown rolls on!

Willie Tasby - 1+ seasons (part of 1962-'63) - Tasby was better known for his days as an Oriole, and even more so for his being on the Red Sox with Ted Williams. Like other Tribers in this list, he couldn't decide what number to be. In '62, he wore #6 and in '63, he switched to #28. If there are any players out there, or future players, please, for the love of Pete, please pick a number and stick with it... I digress as the wee hours of the evening begin to creep in. As a #6er, Tasby had 199 at-bats with 25 runs on 48 hits. He was also walked 25 times. I'm sure there's a connection there somewhere. His average for that season was .241, and the next, he may have traded up in uniform numbers, but his average slipped to .224. At least he can say he played with Williams and watched from the bench as Williams hit his last home run.

1 comment:

  1. Don't blame Tasby. Almost every Indian uniform number changed between 1962 and 1963 when Gabe Paul tried to bring the National League's "uniform number by position" system to the AL. In this system, begun by the Reds in the 1930s, all pitchers wore 30-49; outfielders, 20-29; infielders, 10-19 (18 in Cleveland's case); catchers, coaches and managers, 1-9. Selected other changes included Jerry Kindall, from 1 (1962) to 14 ('63); Woodie Held, 3 to 12; Johnny Romano, 11 to 5; Tito Francona, 14 to 24; Dick Donovan, 20 to 30. Pitchers Gary Bell (39) and Mudcat Grant (33) didn't have to change as their pre-1963 numbers fit in with the new scheme.

    BTW, can anyone post a list of uniform numbers for Cleveland COACHES since 1932? Thanks!