Of Tribes and Tribulations

The Early Decades of the Cleveland Indians


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About the Book

Over their first four decades in the American League, the Cleveland Indians were known more for great players than consistently great play. Its rosters filled with all-time greats like Cy Young, Nap Lajoie, Elmer Flick, Tris Speaker, and the ill-fated Addie Joss and Ray Chapman, Cleveland often found itself in the thick of the race but, with 1920 the lone exception, seemed always to finish a game or two back in the final standings.
In the 10 years that followed the end of World War II, however, the franchise turned the corner. Led by owner (and world-class showman) Bill Veeck, the boy-manager Lou Boudreau, ace Bob Feller, and the barrier-busting Larry Doby, Cleveland charged up the standings, finishing in the first division every season but one and winning it all in 1948.
This meticulously researched history covers the Indians’ first six decades, from their minor league origins at the end of the 19th century to the dismantling of the 1954 World Series club. It is a story of unforgettable players, frustrated hopes, and two glorious victories that fed a city’s unwavering devotion to its team.

About the Author(s)

James E. Odenkirk, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University, splits his time between Chandler, Arizona and Boise, Idaho.

Bibliographic Details

James E. Odenkirk
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 316
Bibliographic Info: 28 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7983-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1706-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
1. Nineteenth Century Baseball in Cleveland 3
2. The Clevelanders and the American League 15
3. A “Dunn” Deal, Then Tragedy and Triumph 36
4. The Roaring Twenties and New Ownership 66
5. Filling Up the Tribe Managers’ Graveyard 84
6. The Tumultuous Tenure of Oscar Vitt 109
7. Tempest in a Teepee 122
8. Boy Manager, Bradley and the Burrhead 138
9. The Cleveland Franchise Takes on a New Look 160
10. Team Integration and the Glory Years 180
11. The Indians’ Greatest Season Since 1920 204
12. A Second World Championship and the End of the Veeck Era 227
13. An Indians Summer, Then Forty Years of Winter 250
Epilogue 270
Chapter Notes 275
Bibliography 291
Index 295

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Offers a unique perspective… Odenkirk does an admirable job of conveying not only the early history of the Indians but what that history has meant to Clevelanders…his personal approach to history thus gives his writing a certain timelessness”—Nine
  • “Odenkirk’s history deftly combines his personal remembrances with the meticulous research and discerning analysis of a scholar to produce an authoritative and entertaining history.”—Larry Gerlach, emeritus professor at the University of Utah and the author of Men in Blue
  • “A veritable ‘trip tik’ through the long and exceedingly interesting history of baseball in Cleveland. Not only Indians fans but all fans of the game will enjoy hitching a ride.”—Rick Huhn, author of The Chalmers Race: Ty Cobb, Napoleon Lajoie, and the Controversial 1910 Batting Title That Became a National Obsession
  • “A scholarly and well-researched history, Odenkirk’s book will rank with the best in succinctly describing the thrills and disappointments of Tribe baseball in the twentieth century.”—Russell Schneider, sportswriter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and author of The Cleveland Indians Encyclopedia