CLEVELAND JOINS THE SHOW
THE CLEVELAND baseball experience begins in 1868 with the formation of the Forest Citys as a "gentleman's varsity." The club, which will give way to the Spiders (pictured here in 1890), plays in the first game of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players on May 4, 1871, losing 2-0 to the Fort Wayne Kekiongas.
ALONG COME THE SPIDERS
FORMED in 1886, the Cleveland Spiders endure five losing seasons before stringing together seven winning campaigns. In 1895 the Spiders beat the Orioles in the Temple Cup Series, a five-game playoff between the National League's top two teams. Cleveland wins in five games behind three victories from Cy Young (above, left). The Spiders finish a respectable 81-68 in 1898, but '99 is a different story. Team owner Frank Robison, who also owns the St. Louis Perfectos, ships most of the team's stars, including future Hall of Famers Young and Jesse (the Crab) Burkett (left), to the Perfectos in the off-season. The Spiders go 20-134, are dropped from the league and earn the dubious distinction of being baseball's worst team ever.
THE EARLY YEARS
CLEVELAND FANS EXPERIENCED BOTH THE HIGHEST OF HIGHS AND THE LOWEST OF LOWS AS TWO FLEDGLING SPORTS STRUGGLED TO GAIN GROUND IN THE U.S.
A CHAMPIONSHIP FOR CLEVELAND
LOCAL BOY Johnny Kilbane (below) earns the featherweight boxing championship in 1912 when he defeats titleholder Abe Attell in a 20-round decision in Vernon, Calif. Kilbane goes on to defend his title five times over the next 11 years and earns a spot in the Boxing Hall of Fame. He will later serve one term each as an Ohio state senator and representative.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
A CHARTER member of the American League in 1901, the Cleveland franchise is first called the Blues, then the Bronchos, then the Naps, in honor of Cleveland's first great player, Napoleon Lajoie (right). But in 1915 the team is dubbed the Indians in honor of Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian who had played for the Spiders from 1897 to '99 and had a .460 slugging percentage in his best year.
INDIANS shortstop Ray Chapman (left) becomes the first and only fatality in a major league game on Aug. 16, when a first-pitch fastball from the Yankees' Carl Mays strikes him in the left temple. New York doctors operate but can't save Chapman, 29, who was expecting a child with his wife, Kathleen.
ONE, TWO, THREE: YER OUT!
CLEVELAND'S 8-1 win over Brooklyn in Game 5 of the World Series isn't dramatic, but it is full of World Series firsts. Indians rightfielder Elmer Smith hits the first grand slam, pitcher Jim Bagby becomes the first at his position to hit a home run, and Cleveland native Bill Wambsganss completes the only unassisted triple play in Fall Classic history (left).
SPEAKER IN THE HOUSE
"WE'RE GOING to win four straight at home," says Indians manager Tris Speaker (right) after his club drops two of three road games to Brooklyn in the best-of-nine World Series. Speaker is right: Cleveland takes the next four games at Dunn Field to win the Tribe's first world championship.
A WIN AND A LOSS
AFTER three NFL franchises fold, the Cleveland Rams begin play in 1937. By '45 halfback Fred Gehrke (left) will lead the Rams to a 15-14 win over the Redskins at Municipal Stadium in frigid weather on Dec. 16 (right) and give the city its first NFL championship. One month later the franchise is moved to Los Angeles.
A SEASON TO REMEMBER
CLEVELAND is baseball crazy as the Indians jockey for position atop the AL with the A's, Yankees and Red Sox all season, and sit 4� games out of first after Labor Day. The Tribe rallies to end the season tied with Boston. In a one-game playoff against the Sox, player-manager Lou Boudreau goes 4 for 4 with two homers, and rookie pitcher Gene Bearden allows only five hits. With an 8-3 win, the Indians punch a World Series ticket for the first time in 28 years. The Tribe splits the first two games against the Boston Braves before Bearden's 2-0 shutout helps win Game 3. Larry Doby's solo shot is enough for a 2-1 Cleveland win in Game 4, but the Braves take the next one as Warren Spahn pitches 5 2/3 innings of relief in an 11-5 rout. Cleveland ace Bob Lemon brings a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 6 in Boston, but when he tires and loads the bases, Boudreau gambles with Bearden, who would have been the Game 7 starter. Bearden allows two runs but holds on for the Series-clincher.