As a sports writer, I am required to write about a baseball memory with my father this week. But, before the panic of reading more baseball nostalgia sends you clicking away, please know that I am from Cleveland. Thus I do not have the same boring wistfulness of, say, a Dodgers fan who got to see a stately victory in perfect weather with his dad.
Instead, I would just like to share the two quotes I remember most vividly from old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Both were stated, well, yelled, in near terror, during the second game of a back-to-back double header against The Detroit Tigers. The Indians were destroyed in both games (*) and, by the middle of the second game, the fans were hammered with nothing to watch.
Two or three fans already ran on to the field during the first game and, when it happened again during a pitching change in the second game, an angry, impromptu announcement blared through the stadium. In that same hostile tone they narrate drug commercials with (”does being high look cool now?”), the PA announcer shouted:
“$200 and a night in jail- doesn’t sound like a good time, does it fans?”
With that, about two dozen fans –from ten different parts of the stadium– ran on to the field. Fans were being lowered down to the field by friends; running with banners; climbing back up walls; dodging police officers- it was like a border had collapsed. I was never more proud to be from Cleveland. “Actually”, our city answered, “that sounds like a pretty great time.”
The next inning, a woman started stripping on top of the bleachers, using the stadium’s play clock to balance herself. Security guards immediately ran towards her, but they were quickly blocked by half the men in my section. The guards realized they would never power their way through this crowd and, half-defeated, I heard one of them yell,
“Fellas- I want to see this as bad as you, but there’s a 200 foot drop off on the other side of that clock!”
The crowd then let him pass. He reached the women, helped her down, and then lead her to be arrested while wearing his yellow security jacket. The crowd applauded both of them like they just saw Bob Hope introduce Marylin Monroe. My dad and I looked at each other. We both knew that we had just witnessed some thing important: the most chivalrous moment in Cleveland history. It has since been called, “The Fairy Tale of Lake Erie”.
(*) This was back when the Tigers had Fielder, Fryman, Tettleton and every one in their prime; and The Tribe had people like Stan Jefferson starting so it was never even close between the teams