He has been booed by Cleveland fans just once. "I found it refreshing," Joe says. "I wondered when it would happen." The occasion was a doubleheader loss to Milwaukee in which he missed an attempted shoestring catch and failed to hustle after the ball. Shortstop Jerry Dybzinski had to retrieve it and the fans got on Charboneau's case.
Except for that instance, the affair between Charboneau and the Indian fans has been all love and kisses. "I really like Joe," says Dale Gallagher, who is a cheerleader at Valley Forge High besides being president of his fan club. "Every time I talk to him, he's in a really good mood, and he always cracks me up. People around here have really taken to him. We were looking for someone to fill the empty spot that's been here so long."
Raise your glass, let out a cheer.
Go Joe Charboneau
For Cleveland's Rookie of the Year.
Go Joe Charboneau
Last Friday night in Section 36, the guys were talking about Joe. "Nobody's brought this much excitement to Cleveland since Colavito," said Gary Heldt, a lifelong Indians fan who was born in 1954, the year of the last Cleveland pennant. Heldt introduced himself as a distant cousin of Woodie Held, the Indians' shortstop and second baseman from 1958 to 1964. " Charboneau's the impetus for the Indians teams of the future. He's got magnetism. I was in this bar one night, and he was there. The place is never packed, but because he was there, it was wall-to-wall people. I stood in line for two hours to get his autograph. If the guy doesn't get Rookie of the Year, it's a crime. What's Burns, huh? Eleven and 12. Big deal."
It was the fourth inning, and the Indians were trailing the White Sox 3-2. Charboneau came up to bat against Rich Dotson with a man on. From out in left-field, the guys could see Charboneau pluck a changeup and send home run No. 19 and RBIs Nos. 71 and 72 right next door into Section 37. They went berserk. Amid many and varied displays of hand-slapping, the guys began to chant, "Char-bo-neau, Char-bo-neau."
It had the sound of music.