Cleveland Indians: 5 Great Careers That Were Cut Short

jim beamContributor IIISeptember 23, 2011

Cleveland Indians: 5 Great Careers That Were Cut Short

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    There are 14 inductees in the National Baseball Hall of Fame who bare the Cleveland Indians (or Naps) insignia on their Hall of Fame plaques. But there could have easily been more such plaques if not for devastating injuries to other Indians players.

    Here is a list of five Indians who had their great careers ended prematurely.

5. Ray Narleski

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    Indians pitcher Ray Narleski was one of the best pitchers in baseball during the mid-1950s before injuries ruined his promising career.

    Narleski only played five seasons with the Indians, but made the All-Star Game in 1956 and 1958. He had a 9-1 record and led Major League Baseball with 19 saves in 1955. He went 39-21 and had a 3.22 ERA during his time with Cleveland.

    The team sent Narleski to the Detroit Tigers in 1959 where he played one season before retiring due to shoulder problems.

4. Ray Fosse

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    Ray Fosse’s career was never quite the same after his home plate collision with Pete Rose during the 1970 All-Star Game.

    After that famous collision, Fosse suffered several more unlucky injuries throughout his career that leveled his rise to baseball stardom.

    Fosse was selected to two All-Star games during the three full seasons he played in Cleveland, highlighted by a .307, 61 RBI campaign in 1970.

    The Indians sent him to Oakland in 1973 when he was showing signs of deterioration.  Fosse won two world championships with the A’s but was also plagued by more injuries.

3. Ray Chapman

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    Known best for being the last fatality in the history of Major League Baseball, shortstop Ray Chapman was one of the greatest Indians to play during baseball’s “dead ball era.”

    Chapman had been with the Indians for nine seasons and had a .278 average and 233 stolen bases. His 334 career sacrifice hits remain sixth in MLB history. Chapman also led the AL in both walks and runs during 1918.

2. Herb Score

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    Herb Score was on his way to becoming one of the most dominant left-handed pitchers of all time before a line drive to the face and an arm injury sent him to the announcer’s booth.

    Score was an All-Star during his first two seasons with the Indians, and Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle had once called Score the toughest left-hander he had ever faced in the AL. But Score missed almost two seasons after he was hit in the face by a line drive in 1957. His career took a permanent downturn after he suffered ligament damage to his throwing arm in 1958.

    He finished his playing career with the Indians in 1959 and became a broadcaster for the team in 1964.

1. Al Rosen

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    The original “Hebrew Hammer”, Al Rosen was often considered the greatest third baseman ever to play for the Indians. He made four All-Star games and won the 1953 AL MVP during his 10 seasons in Cleveland.

    Back and leg injuries forced Rosen to retire at 32. He likely would have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at the rate his career was going.