Dec. 16, 2007
Pluto is a sportwriter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. And he is a fan of the Cleveland teams that I grew up learning to love. Till I was twelve I lived in Cleveland, then moved away, but the Indians and Browns continued to live in my heart.
OK, so we have not had much to cheer about for a while. Like, a very long while. The Indians came surprisingly close to representing the American League in the World Series this year, which was good. Then the walls crashed in. But they gave us a thrill.
Most people do not remember how dominant the Indians were in the 1950's. When my parents brought me home from the hospital in 1952, they named my four teddy bears after the Cleveland Indians starting rotation. My favorites were Feller and Lemon, one of the best one-two combos ever. In 1954 the Indians were the first team in baseball history, and the only team since, to have a pitching staff with four twenty game winners. The Tribe, as they are affectionately called by fans, won a pennant that year and came in second at least a half dozen times during that decade. Then, the bad thing happened.
Terry Pluto wrote a book about it, actually: The Curse of Rocky Colavito. (Thanks, Terry!) It is a book about how the team management decimated a good team for money, and about how the bad behavior of that team owner resulted in a perpetual cloud of bad luck to hang over the city and it team of perennial also-rans. It's an entertaining book for all Indians fans and I recommend it heartily. It helped explain why there were no Indians on the team when I went to the 1963 All Star Game in Cleveland's municipal stadium, and why there were no fans at so many of the games I went to at that time as a kid.
But today, we're talking about the Browns. The Cleveland Browns, one of football's great traditions, have been having a surprisingly good year. Like their baseball counterpart, the Browns have likewise had a disappointing history these past four decades. The glory days of Jimmy Brown and Leroy Kelly, Lou "the Toe" Groza, Frank Ryan, Paul Warfield, Bobby Mitchell, Gary Collins... well, it may have been a long time ago but the precious memories are very present. The legacy since that time includes a three year stint when we had no Browns at all. The team had been moved to Baltimore. Ack!
Well, we all know that the Browns are not Super Bowl bound because, ahem, our former coach Bellicek has built one heckuva a dynasty up in New England, if those Colts in Indy don't squash us first. Nevertheless, it's exciting to watch a team that has the potential to win every week, like they're supposed to. It's been a long time since I have read "the latest line" and found our Brownies actually favored almost every week. Woof! Woof Woof!
Check out this 1963 Cleveland Browns football card. Them Browns was great, weren't they?