Rocky Colavito

Cleveland’s Iconic Slugger


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About the Book

Iconic ballplayer Rocky Colavito captivated fans during the 1950s and 1960s with his movie-star looks, boyish enthusiasm, powerful bat and cannon-like arm. This biography of “the Rock”—the first in more than half a century—recounts his origins in an Italian immigrant family, his close friendships with Herb Score and Roger Maris, and his rise through the minors to become one of the Cleveland Indians’ most beloved players—who retired with the third most home runs by a right-handed AL batter. The author also examines the controversial trade that sent Colavito, the AL’s 1959 home run champion, to the Detroit Tigers for batting champion Harvey Kuenn. Colavito’s departure was a crushing blow to Indians fans and the team’s subsequent 34–year slump was dubbed “the Curse of Colavito.”

About the Author(s)

Mark Sommer is an award-winning journalist for The Buffalo News. His work has also appeared in the Associated Press, Albany Times Union, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Plain Dealer and Topeka Capital-Journal. He lives in Buffalo, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Mark Sommer

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 246
Bibliographic Info: 50 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7397-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3729-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. The Trade 7
2. Signing with the Indians 19
3. Indianville 33
4. Roomie 46
5. Hit or Miss 55
6. “Those Guys Were the Future” 68
7. Stardom 78
8. Fantastic Four 94
9. Going, Going, Gone 101
10. The Motor City 115
11. Motown Discord 131
12. Joining the Circus 139
13. The Return 151
14. Breakup 161
15. Back to the Bronx 171
16. Outside the White Lines 184
17. Reconciliation 191
Appendix: Reconsidering the Hall of Fame 205
Chapter Notes 213
Bibliography 222
Index 225

Book Reviews & Awards

    • “This impressive and extremely well-done story of an Italian-American kid from the Bronx who makes it big in the big leagues is a great read. Mark Sommer does an impressive job of conveying Rocky Colavito’s love of the game, and makes very real the whole drama of being traded, not only in his wonderful opening about ‘the trade,’ but in the more mundane but highly disruptive trades that plagued his career. Rocky Colavito: A Life in Baseball is about baseball, it’s about Cleveland; and in a very real sense, it’s about America.”—Mark Goldman, historian and author of City on the Edge: Buffalo, NY
    • “Mark Sommer does a great job of taking us inside the life and times of Rocky Colavito. Rocky was a charismatic figure during his days as a Cleveland Indian. He was a legendary slugger in the days when the home run was a more special accomplishment than it is in today’s game.”—Jim Kaat, former pitcher and MLB broadcaster
    • “A very good and easy read about a great player and a great gentleman with impeccable character and many insights heretofore unknown. Great surprises. Don’t miss reading this book.”—Sam McDowell, former Cleveland Indians pitcher
    • “This book will easily stand as the definitive biography on Rocky Colavito. Mark Sommer captures the slugger’s achievements on the field as well as the joyous affinity felt by his fans.”—Marc Bona, feature writer,
    • “Mark Sommer has written an irresistible story about one of baseball’s irresistible characters. You can’t knock the Rock, and you can’t knock this book. They’re both winners.”—Jonathan Eig, author of Luckiest Man, Opening Day and Ali: A Life