Sports fans in Cleveland will settle for a championship any way they can get it.
Even if it comes by way of the city’s NBA team as opposed to their beloved NFL Browns.
Even if it comes via the help of the greatest player in the world, who several years back went on national television and publicly embarrassed the region when he took his ball and won titles elsewhere.
But again, make no mistake, you take the sweet taste of success any way you can get it.
Imagine waiting three years for your one big opportunity. Then imagine knocking it out of the park on the very first pitch.
Jay Bell on 1988 Topps card #637
That’s how the first Major League Baseball swing played out for Cleveland Indians shortstop Jay Bell in 1986 when he connected for a homer off Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven in his first trip to the big league plate.
The irony was likely not lost on the baseball fans in attendance that day.
After being taken with the No. 8 overall pick out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 1984 Bell was part of a minor league package shipped to Cleveland in exchange for Blyleven.
Cleveland also received pitcher Curt Wardle and outfielder Jim Weaver up front in the deal, and later pitcher Rich Yett. The man affectionately known as the Frying Dutchman would go on to help the Twins win a championship in 1987 just as Bell’s career was getting started.
Can you imagine how rare it must be to hit a major league home run off of the first pitch hurled your way?
My son has a very cool mom. On Mother’s Day we took her to St. Petersburg to see the Cleveland Indians play the Tampa Bay Rays. (Moms who love sports are keepers, kids.) We had great seats, right behind the home plate area along the first base side of the park at Tropicana Field.
The best decision we made was moving across the aisle to sit in a less crowded area, because in the bottom of the seventh the most amazing thing happened. Logan Forsythe, whom I admittedly know little about, entered the game as a pinch-hitter and fouled a pitch from Cleveland reliever Marc Rzepczynski in our direction. I stood and watched as the ball sailed over our heads and bounced off the siding of the second level.