Today, we are looking at the third and final installment of the contenders for All-Time Indians uniform Number 7. Check these guys out and tomorrow I will present my pick for All-Time Number 7:
Joe Azcue - 7 seasons (1963-1969) - Remember, Azcue was one of the three finalists for the Uniform #6. Here's the replay: He wore the Number 6 for his entire Indians career except for 1967, in which he wore Number 7. Azcue's 100 hits, 23 runs, and 42 RBIs earned him a spot on the 1968 All-Star team. He came to the Tribe in '63 from the A's, and he finished his first year in Cleveland with a .284 average. During his Indians career, he only had one season below .250, and five of his Indians' seasons were better than .270! His career in Cleveland gave him 1904 at-bats with 506 hits, 229 RBIs, 132 walks, and an overall average of .269. A couple of his interesting career facts include catching two no-hitters, and being the first person to hit into an unassisted triple play since 1927 (41 years) (July, 1968) - ouch.
Joe Inglett - 1 season (2006) - Inglett played in 64 games with the Tribe, getting 57 hits on 201 at-bats. He scored 26 runs, 8 doubles, 3 triples, and 2 homers. Add to that 21 RBIs, 14 walks and 39 strikeouts, and you have a very respectable .284 rookie year. He left the Indians for the Blue Jays last year (2007).
John Ellis - 3 seasons (1973-1975) - Ellis came to the Tribe from the Yankees. He batted .270 his first year, .285 his second, and .230 in his final year with the Indians. I remember a friend of mine having a catcher's glove with his signature on it as a kid (He served on the Spalding Sporting Goods advisory staff in the 70's). 1974 is often considered to be his best overall season: 136 hits with 477 at-bats, 58 runs, 64 RBIs, 10 homers, 23 doubles, 6 triples and a .285 average. In 1987, he founded the Connecticut Sports Foundation Against Cancer (http://www.sportsfoundation.org), which provides financial assistance to patients and families of those with cancer (He has lost a brother, sister, and sister-in-law to cancer, and is himself a cancer survivor).
Johnny Romano - 5 seasons (1960-1964) - Romano wore Numbers 11, 9, 5, and 7 while with the Indians. 1967 was the only season in which he wore the Number 7. But, as with many of the Tribers in our look at the All-Timers, he will appear again. In case you have forgotten, here is what we saw at the Number 5: Romano scored 40 runs, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs, with 52 RBIs on 86 hits during his first year with the Tribe (.272 avg). In both of the next two years, he played for the AL all-star team (21 homers in 1961 and 25 homers in '62). During his Indians career, he maintained a .460+ SLG except for one season ('63) which he had fractured his hand. It'll be fun to see where he stands in the #11 spot, since that's the number he wore the most often.
Jonah Goldman - 3 seasons (1928, 1930-31) - Technically, Goldman only wore #7 in 1931, since there were no Indians uniform numbers before that. For the sake of argument, I'll include all the years he played. His three years with the Tribe were also the extent of his major league career. Overall, he scored 33 runs on 87 hits with 389 at-bats. He only had 1 home run and scored 20 doubles while bringing 49 RBIs and getting walked 35 times. He struck out 31 times, which means only 10 times per season on average. He left the Tribe with a .129 average in his final season and a .224 overall.
Ken Suarez - 3 seasons (1968-69, 71) - Suarez did not play any full-time seasons with the Tribe. In '68, he batted in 17 games, then 36 in '69 and finally he batted in 50 games in '71. His highest career average was a .294 in 1969. Unfortunately, that was bookended by a .100 first Tribe season and .203 final season before being traded to the Rangers. In both '69 and '71, he had 25 hits, a home run, and 9 RBIs in each season. I'm not sure if there is a significance there, but back-to-back seasons where a player repeats stats in three different categories is pretty cool in my book.
Kenny Lofton - 9+ seasons (1992-1996, 1998-2001, Part of 2007) - Lofton is not quite two years older than I am, and the fact that he is the Tribe's all-time base stealer and has played in more than 80 post-season games amazes me. How's this for an interesting tidbit: In his first year with the Tribe, he hit .285 and in 2007, he hit .283 - Not too bad for a career that has spanned more than 15 years. I'll get to his batting stats in a sec, but his stolen base stats are impressive. For starters, during his Tribe career alone, he attempted more than 550 stolen bases. Of those, he was only picked off 104 times. That gives him a whopping 76% success rate. If you look at his overall major league career, the average goes UP to 79.5% - Eight in ten times, if he's stealing on you, he's succeeding. Ouch. In order to steal bases, you have to get ON base. Now, here is where things kinda get weird. In 5,045 at-bats, Lofton got 1,512 hits and was walked 611 times and hit by the ball 20 times. So, out of those 5045 at-bats, he was actually on base 2,143 times. That means when he got a hit, he has been on base about 42% of the time. Not too shabby in itself, but looking back at the stolen base stats, he was taking off 25% of the time he got a hit. Those are not good odds if you're the pitcher... Of course, that is not exactly right because he also has 244 doubles, 66 triples, and 87 home runs throughout his Indians career. Oh, have I mention the 518 RBI's? So far, as a Triber, he has a .299 batting average, a .373 on-base average and a .424 slugging percentage. He also managed to set the MLB record for stolen bases in playoff action with 34 career post-season steals. The man he overtook? The legendary Rickey Henderson. In addition to all of that, he has at least 6 all-star appearances and 4 World Series showings (2 with the Tribe). And though at the peak of his career he was paid more, in 2007 he really was the six million dollar man....
Mike de la Hoz - 4 seasons (1960-1963) - Wearing the Number 7 in '61 and '62, de la Hoz was first seen wearing Number 1 in our countdown. Throughout his Indians career, he posted near or above .260 average for each year with the Tribe, except for 1962. In 1962, he only had 12 at-bats and had one hit, posting just a .083 average.
Odell Hale - 9 seasons (1931, 1933-1940) - Hale was seen in our Number 4 uniform spot, and will show up again wearing #'s 25 and 34. He only wore Number 7 during his rookie year. He played in 25 games with 92 at-bats that season. His 26 hits, 14 runs, 2 doubles, 4 triples, and single home run earned him a .283 average his first year in the majors. Not a bad start at all! Feel free to re-visit Number 4 for a review of his career.
Pete Center - 4 seasons (1942-43, 45-46) - Center was just as fickle with his uniform number as many of the Tribers we've seen so far. In 42-43, he wore Number 7, then #40 in 1945, and in '46 he sported #29. I have to wonder if the idea that someone would someday do an "All-Time Uniform Number list" crossed their minds, so they changed numbers in order better their odds... You never can tell... I digress. Center, whose name might suggest an outfielding position, but Center was a pitcher. In 1942, he pitched in one game for 3.1 innings. He walked four batters and gave up SIX runs on 7 hits. In his only game of his rookie year, he managed to earn a staggering 16.20 ERA. He managed to settle down the next year (frankly, it amazes me had had a 4-year baseball career at all after his rookie showing), ending his 2nd season with a 2.76 ERA. Unfortunately, his ERA kept climbing (3.99 then 4.97). The Tribe saw a pattern developing and cut him loose in 1946. He was a batting pitcher (as they had not officially started using DHs yet), and he lived up (down?) to the general stereotype of batting pitchers: they can't hit for...squat. In 31 career at-bats, he struck out 12 times, had 2 runs and 2 hits and was walked once. In 4 seasons, he actually only managed to have an average above .000 in one of those seasons (1945). His average that year was .091, and his major league career batting average was just .065. Regardless, he still got say something I never can: He played for the Indians. :-)
Phil Roof - Part of 1 season (1965) - Roof came to the Indians from the Angels after batting .136 in 9 games. Unfortunately, he did fare much better with the Tribe. In 52 at-bats (in 43 games), he ended his Indians-playing days with a .173 average, and was unceremoniously traded to the Athletics. While not very good while standing at the plate, he did very well while crouched behind it. In 41 games for the Tribe, he had 162 put-outs with 17 assists while keeping his number of passed balls to two. He left the Tribe with a .994 fielding percentage.
Ron Pruitt - 5+ seasons (1976-part of 1980, 1981) - Pruitt only wore the Number 7 for part of the 1978 season. His preferred Tribe uniform number was 13, so we'll see him again down the road a bit. In '78, he had 44 hits on 187 at-bats, getting 17 runs, 6 doubles, a triple, and 6 home runs with 17 RBIs. He was walked 16 times, so a "plus" that could taken from that is that he was just as likely to be walked as to have an RBI. I know, not much to go on, but remember we are only talking about one season for now. Unfortunately, he struck out 20 times as well, so he was actually more likely to strike out than to get an RBI or be walked. Bummer. He ended the season with a .235 average. As we will see during the Number 13 run-down, he managed to do better than that with the Tribe, and in fact his 1978 season proved to be his lowest seasonal average. Those of you not familiar with the Indians during most of their existence, this little exchange sums it up: "When Indians catcher Ron Pruitt met Cleveland mayor Dennis Kucinich he said, 'I'm glad to meet you, Mr. Mayor, because I've been wanting to talk to you about the condition of your streets.' Kucinich, mindful of Cleveland's low standing in the American League, responded: 'That's good. I've been wanting to ask you about the condition of the Indians.'" - Baseball Digest (December 1978) (as quoted on baseball-almanac.com)