Growing up in Wickliffe the Indians were King in our house
Opinion by Tim Shirer
Growing up in Wickliffe in the 1970’s and 80’s baseball was king in our house. Yes, we loved all four major pro sports, but the Indians were the team that mattered most.
As we all know the Cleveland Indians were not particularly good in fact, they were terrible in the 70’s and 80’s. But my Dad hammered home that we should love the Indians and hate the Yankees. It was easy to do, game were always easy to get into because Cleveland Municipal Stadium was only maybe 15% full for most games after Opening Day where it usual drew 70,000+.
I would go to games with my Dad, brother, and sister often. But we also went with my Uncle Mark and my Cousin Glen, those were the best times. Glen loved baseball as much as I did, we could talk about the Indians for hours, he also liked the Texas Rangers at that time. I was also a fan of the Houston Astros. I always figured it was okay to like a National League team because they never played the American League so there would be no conflict if they played the Indians, because there was no way the Indians were going to get to the World Series as much as I dreamed they would.
Glen and I would talk about potential trades all the time and about ways that somehow the Indians could become contenders and move out of their usual spots of sixth or seventh place in the AL East. Glen was more of the realist than I was. He was always skeptical that the team could get over the hump. I however every year thought it was possible, with dreams of the World Series in April that were dashed by Memorial Day or sooner.
Baseball was the one thing that kept us together. My brother Tom passed away when I was 14, he was 15 and one thing I can remember was the last time we went to an Indians game it was a doubleheader and they swept the Toronto Blue Jays. Andre Thornton was the hero of the day.
In our backyard we had a wiffle ball field and it was named “Miguel Dillone Field” because he was a great player. Not really but he was a fast guy who could steal bases and he played for the Indians and they were our team even though they were terrible every year.
I often wonder if the Indians had been a better franchise, making the playoffs a couple times a decade back then would I still be as big of a fan as I am now? Would I still get as excited about post season as I do because I had to wait as I did, well into adulthood for the Indians to make it to post season.
I also wonder would the generation that grew up with the 90’s Indians appreciate the playoffs more if they had grown up when I did?
All I know is I will always remember how special it was when my Dad told me we were going to an Indian’s game. Being a baseball kid in the 70’s and 80’s in Cleveland, Ohio was not easy. But knowing where the franchise is now, I would not trade it for anything in the world.
As I end this trip down memory lane, I want to say LONG LIVE THE CHIEF and GO TRIBE!!.
POSTED 09/29/2020 16:11