Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Indians Uniform Number - 8 (Part 3 of 3)

After much delay, I finally present to you the third and final installment of Uniform Number 8. Tomorrow (Thursday), I'll make my pick for All-Time Number 8:

Mickey Vernon - 2+ seasons (1949-part of '50, 1958) - He was born in 1918, making him 90 years old next Tuesday (April 22)! We first talked about Vernon in the Uniform Number 3 spot. In 1958, Vernon came back to the Tribe after playing with the Senators and the Red Sox. It was the only year he wore #8 for the Indians. He got earned a very respectable 104 hits on 355 at-bats with 49 runs. He also had 22 doubles, 3 triples, and 8 home runs with 55 total RBIs that season. His at-bats/RBI ratio was 6.5, which ain't too bad at all in my book. He left the Indians for the Braves in late 1959 with a .293 average on the season.

Owen Friend - Part of 1 season (1953) - Friend played in 34 games as an Indian after coming to the team from the Tigers. He had 16 hits in 68 at-bats. Of those 16 hits, 13 were RBIs, and he had been walked 5 times. He scored 7 runs, got 2 doubles and 2 homers while striking out 16 times. Guess he was just as likely to get a hit as to strike out, eh? He left the Tribe in '53 with a .235 average. I saw on several sites that he was kind of the "Kevin Bacon" of baseball in that you could name any player and find a way to connect that player to Friend. It would be interesting to see how long that held true....

Fred "Papa" Williams - Part of 1 season (1945) - Before there was "Big Papi," there was "Papa Williams." Papa did not enjoy the same success that Papi has. Williams batted in 16 games his whole MLB career. He got 4 hits on 19 at-bats, was walked once, and struck out twice. He left the majors with a .211 average. Unfortunately, I could not find out much about Papa Williams.

Pete Whisenant - Part of 1 season (1960) - As is the continuing trend with good ol' #8, Pete did not stay in a Tribe uniform very long - only 7 games. He managed to get 1 hit on 6 at-bats while striking out twice. The Indians sent him to the Senators with a .167 batting average.

Ray Boone - 5+ seasons (1948-Part of 1953) - Boone wore #28 and #11 his first year in the majors, then switched to #8 and stayed there for many years, even after leaving the Tribe. Boone played for the '48 World Series Tribe team, getting 1 at-bat and promptly striking out. Luckily, this would not prove to be the end of his career. Over his Indians career, he had exactly 1,600 at-bats. I don't know why, but I always think it's cool when a player has a round number like that for any of his stats. He had 414 career hits with 235 runs and 202 RBIs. He hit 34 home runs, 42 doubles, 15 triples and was walked 219 times. He also struck out 135 times. He was traded to the Tigers in '53, leaving Cleveland with a .283 average! If the name sounds familiar, it's because his son Bob and his grandsons Bret and Aaron all played in the majors, too. In fact, the Boone's are the first family to send three generations of players to the All-Star Game. Now, how cool is THAT!? Not to mention that, according to several sites, are directly related to Daniel Boone.

Ray Fosse - 7+ seasons (1967-1972, 1976-Part of '77) - Fosse has the distinction of being the first Indian ever picked up by the draft pick system. He is also the catcher being run over by Pete Rose in the 1970 All-Star Game footage you have probably seen over and over again. He grabbed the Golden Glove Award in 1970 and in 1971. Did I mention a 5-RBI game (a grand slam and an RBI single) in 1970? How about TWO 2-home run games (1970, 1972)? Also in 1970, he managed to sneak in a 23-game hitting streak. Oh, and he also caught for Eckersley's no-hitter in 1977. Not a bad run as a Triber, I'd say. Oh, wait, should we talk about stats? How about 600 career games as an Indian (love the round numbers) with 2039 at-bats, snagging 549 hits and 219 runs. Man, one unit away from the 'rounders'! LOL... He scored 219 runs with 230 RBIs while hitting 77 doubles, only 5 triples, and smacking 50 home runs. He was hit by the ball 12 times and walked 155 times, while striking out 243 times. This guy came to play some ball. He had two .300+ seasons which were over shadowed by a .063 rookie season and a one-game no at-bats 2nd season followed by a .172 average in his third season. Take those out, and he had 5 .240+ seasons altogether (that's including the two .300+). Though officially he has a .203 average, I removed the one-game no-bat season and he walked away with an overall .232 average during his years in an Indians uniform.

Rocky Bridges - Part of 1 season (1960) - With a name like that, how could you NOT have a sense of humor? And, Bridges was widely known for his quips. I think this one sums up how I would feel if anyone ever asked me to don a Tribe uniform: (On being asked by Chuck Dressen if he was willing to play third base to prolong his career) "Hell, yes. I'll mow your lawn if you like—I want to stay up here." He only played in 10 games for the Indians, getting 9 hits on 27 at-bats. His .333 Indians career includes 3 RBIs.

Roy Spencer - 1+ seasons (1933-Part of '34) - No, not the Rocket Scientist, this Roy Spencer played in 75 games his first year with the Tribe and only 5 games his second year. He had 47 hits (25 RBIs) on 234 at-bats with 6 doubles, 2 triples, and 18 strike outs. His years with the Tribe proved to be his career lowest two years. He left the Indians for the Giants with a measly .173 batting average.

Rudy Regalado - 3 seasons (1954-'56) - In his rookie year, he helped the Indians get to the 1954 World Series, during which he went 1-for-3 in the Series. He played in more than twice as many games in his rookie year than he did in the following two years combined. Overall, he played in 91 games during his MLB career, all with the Indians. In 253 at-bats, Regalado had 27 runs (31 RBIs) on 63 hits with 8 doubles and 2 homers. He left baseball with a career .249 batting average.

Von Hayes - 2 seasons (1981-82) - I always thought he had a cool baseball name, and often wondered if "Vaughn" in the "Major League" movies was named after this guy. I digress. Hayes did well for himself during his stint in a Tribe uniform, earning an Indians career .253 batting average. He pulled that together by getting 160 hits in 636 at-bats, scoring 86 runs, 99 RBIs, 33 doubles, 5 triples, and 15 homers. He only had 73 strike outs and was walked 56 times. Chris Berman (ESPN) would come to refer to him as Von "Purple" Hayes in reference to Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze."

Willie Kirkland - 3 seasons (1961-'63) - Kirkland wore Number 8 in '61 and '62, then switched to #27 in '63. He served as a utility outfielder throughout his career. He batted in 410 games wearing the Indians uniform and got 318 hits in 1,371 at-bats. Each of his Tribe seasons ended at .200+ average, and two of his seasons ended at .230+. He accomplished this with the help of 191 runs, 44 doubles, 8 triples, and 63 home runs, bringing in 214 RBIs. Overall, he batted .230 wearing Chief Wahoo.

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