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Curse of Rocky Colavito: A Loving Look at a Thirty-Year Slump Paperback – May 17, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Boston Red Sox fans speak of the Curse of the Bambino to explain why their team has failed to win a world championship since Babe Ruth was traded away in 1919. Pluto ( Tall Tales ) draws an analogy with the Cleveland Indians, who won two pennants and finished in second place six times between 1948 and 1959, then in 1960 traded away their beloved home-run hitter Rocky Colavito and have never again been a top team. The author flags eccentric general manager Frank Lane, who arranged the unpopular trade, plus managers who have been hated by most of the players; talented athletes who were traded away before their full potential was realized and became stars with other teams; athletes who soured on playing for a perennial loser; and, after the advent of free agency, stars with salary demands that the team could not meet. It's a story of gloom and depression that Cleveland fans will probably enjoy. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Is there anyone in sports fandom who has suffered more than a fortysomething Cleveland Indians baseball fan? Pluto, who fits the profile, is also a columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal and the author of 11 sports books. He says no, no one has suffered more, and makes his case in this 30-year history of a woebegone franchise. Once, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Indians were very good: they won a couple of pennants and would have won more except for the damn Yankees. Then came, in no particular order: Trader Frank Lane, who traded away the team's nucleus; a tragic injury to young pitching phenom Herb Score; the trade of local hero and slugger Rocky Colavito (by Lane); a series of inept managers; and Lane's successor, Gabe Paul, who didn't make as many trades as Lane but specialized in bad ones. Pluto also profiles key players for the Indians during their 30-year slump, such as Sudden Sam McDowell, a great talent with a taste for booze; Tony Horton, a promising young hitter whose career ended with a severe case of clinical depression; and, of course, Colavito, who was to Indian fans what Michael Jordan was to Chicago hoop fans. As always, Pluto entertains with his eye for the absurd and an ear for the strange quote. This will have wide appeal beyond Cleveland as fans in other cities learn that times aren't as tough as they thought. Wes Lukowsky --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
It makes for sometimes hilarious reading, filled with the pathos of fatal hope.
Pluto penned two of my all-time favorite books, Tall Tales and Loose Balls, chronicling the travails of the American Basketball Association and the 1960's NBA, respectively. He did so, in both cases, brilliantly. Using a system of interviews and letting the principals describe their experiences, he creates a special birds-eye view that produces a human and at times side-splitting look at these amazing times.
Here, he takes us back to the Tribe post-Bill Veeck, and an odyssey beginning with long time broadcaster Herb Score. Score's tenure as one of the all-time promising starting pitchers ended tragically, but spawned his time as a beloved announcer and ambassador for the tribe. Some of his malapropisms behind the mic are incredibly funny, only to be eclipsed by those of Jim "Mudcat" Grant.
But Pluto aptly describes the wonder of being a young fan. Beyond all reason, he becomes enamored with Indian hurler Jack Kralick, for seemingly no good reason. When he later begins a quest to learn more of his boyhood idol, he finds absolutely no redeeming qualities. I can totally relate, growing up a White Sox fan of a similar era.
At the center of the story is Rocky Colavito, a worthy hero to any young fan of the era. A man of principal, work ethic and a fan friendly disposition, he is a legitimate star who the Indians mistreat and trade away for compensation that is not nearly his worth. So begins an epic era of bad trades and depreciation of a once proud franchise, banishing it to near oblivion.
There are some wonderful baseball books out there, and this one ranks with many great ones. Pluto mixes tenderness, humor and a personal stake in the pain of mediocrity that leads to page turning, laugh out loud enjoyment, and nostalgia of childhood hero worship.
I have seldom enjoyed any read more thoroughly.
As I write this, though, I can't get over the irony. I just finished the book and then I read about Herb Score dying. While this book talks about numerous people, Herb Score gets a decent amount of "ink" and comes across as the nicest person ever to be associated - at least in this time period - with the Indians. Pluto is brutal with a number of people in this book but can't find one bad word to say about Score. Who could?
The author is not so nice when it comes to General Manager Frank "Trader" Lane, or owner Gabe Paul, or several ballplayers, several managers. general managers and team announcers. That's part of what makes this book so readable; Pluto's frankness. He describes exactly how and why Lane is such a despised figure in Cleveland Indians history and why some of these other guys were bad news to Indian fans.
Pluto's accounts of another nice guy, Rocky Colavito (the day Lane traded him officially ruined Cleveland, he asserts, hence the humorous title of the book) are very good, too, but most memorable are the short stories about guys like Tony Horton, "Mudcat" Grant, Sam McDowell, Frank Robinson, Andre Thornton, Joe Charbonneau, Dennis Eckersley and Rick Manning and Pete Frankin to name a few.
One doesn't have to be a diehard Cleveland Indians fan to really be entertained by this book. I loved it, and was sorry when I came to the last page. I've discovered what folks in Ohio already know: Terry Pluto is a great sportswriter.