I was just thinking recently about the first time I ever made it to Jacobs Field. I suppose I recalled that as it happened to have been in June of 1995, and we all know how special 1995 turned out to be (at least until David Justice and Tom Glavine ended our hopes).
That line of thought led to this one: what was your all-time favorite memory of Jacobs/Progressive Field? Was it the simple act of going for the first time and seeing what a difference it made from the old stadium? Maybe it was a playoff or World Series game? Maybe you were there when the bats and the gnats beat the Yankees in 2007?
I will tell you my favorite memory of the new digs. It happened to be on my first-ever trip to the place. And yes, for a while that day it was all the shiny bells and whistles that got my attention.
But then a memorable game happened. Actually it was the largest comeback I had ever seen the Indians pull off, and that included hundreds of trips to the old stadium on the lake.
The date was June 4, 1995. The Indians were sitting in first place in the Central Division at 23-10 and had a nice five-game lead.
Of course, by June 4 there should have been many more than 33 games already played, but that was a season that started late and was shortened to 144 games due to labor issues.
You all probably know all about the actual confines of Jake/Prog so I won't give you an "Oh my that is so cool!" tour here, and will instead focus on the game itself.
The Indians trotted out Jason Grimsley to face the Toronto Blue Jays and David Cone.
Things were going really well -- until the game actually started.
Then Grimsley walked the first three Toronto batters, before singles broke out leading to the first three runs. Then Shawn Green belted a three-run homer and with one out in the top of the first it was 6-0 Toronto.
The Blue Jays got another walk off of Grimsley, who finally exited, with Chad Ogea coming on for the Tribe, and giving up an immediate single which helped to lead to another Toronto run, making it 7-0 before the Indians came to bat.
(Obviously it was about that time that I really started just taking in the park, as the game -- against Cone -- was probably already over.)
The Blue Jays added a run in the top of the third to make it 8-0, which at the old stadium would no doubt led to a mass exodus of the 5,000 or so who would have been in attendance, but on this day, the place was full and would remain so. Maybe I wasn't the only one taking in the novelty of a first game in the new baseball jewel in downtown Cleveland.
In the bottom of the third Omar Vizquel drove home Wayne Kirby with a single to make it 8-1. Hey, at least there wasn't going to be a shutout today.
In the bottom of the fourth Kenny Lofton singled to drive in Jim Thome and Paul Sorrento, and the Indians' deficit was cut to 8-3. And hey, at least we were no longer being too embarrassed.
Then in the bottom of the fifth Eddie Murray belted a home run to right, scoring Albert Belle, and now the game was actually a game and the fans were into it.
I was sitting in foul territory high in the upper deck down the right-field line, just about even with the wall in right, so I had a good look at that Murray homer.
Happiness all around, but still the Tribe was down three going to the sixth.
Ogea was still in the game and keeping Toronto off the board, and in the bottom of the sixth Belle drove in a run with a two-out single to make it 8-6. That was all for Cone, as the Blue Jays went to Tony Castillo, who retired the side with no further damage.
There was no scoring in the seventh, and in the eighth Julian Tavarez came on and held the Blue Jays off the board.
Unfortunately, in the bottom of the eighth, Vizquel grounded into a double play with one on and one out, and to the ninth we went, with the Blue Jays still up by two.
Tavarez got a double play in the top of the ninth, and so the Indians came in to bat with one more chance.
Carlos Baerga, leading off, tried to bunt his way on but was retired. Darren Hall came on for the Blue Jays to relieve Castillo and Belle and Murray singled. Then Toronto's Roberto Alomar made a nice play at second to retire Murray on a force, with Belle scoring to make it 8-7, but now with two down and a runner at first.
Up to the plate strode Paul Sorrento, with the sun blazing and white shirts in the background making it very hard by this time of day to see the ball off the bat on anything hit in the air.
First pitch, Sorrento swings -- I hear the sound of solid contact but cannot see the ball against the crowd in the background. It was the roar and the screaming and the turning of heads that made me realize where the game-winning homer was going -- right into those seats down the right-field line.
Needless to say there was jubilation, oh yes there was, as the Indians walked off with a 9-8 win.
And right at that moment a memory was chiseled into my memory that I hope will never fade away.
So what was your favorite memory of the Indians' new digs so far?