Join us at Bainbridge Library for an evening of entertaining baseball history surrounding northeast Ohio’s favorite team, the Cleveland Indians. Beachwood resident and baseball historian Scott H. Longert presents stories from his 2013 book The Best They Could Be: How the Cleveland Indians Became the Kings of Baseball, 1916 – 1920.
Since the founding of professional baseball, few teams have risen above years of mediocrity only to see their fortunes interrupted by war and tragedy. Fewer still have then rallied to win the World Series. In the early twentieth century, the Cleveland Indians brought the world championship to their city of passionate fans in a spectacular style that has yet to be replicated.
The Best They Could Be recaps the compelling story of the ballplayers and team owner who resurrected this proud but struggling franchise. Although the Cleveland ball club had been an active part of professional baseball from the late 1860s and a charter member of the American League, by 1915 the team was on the brink of collapse. Into this dejected atmosphere came new owner James C. Dunn. Despite lacking baseball experience, Dunn had the business savvy to bring his club to the forefront, acquiring superstar center fielder Tris Speaker and other great players. But during the rise of the franchise, the outbreak of World War I interrupted baseball. Then, in 1920, as the Indians were leading the pennant race, shortstop Ray Chapman died after a pitch fractured his skull. The outpouring of sorrow from teammates and fans alike made the Indians more determined than ever to fight their way to the top.
Scott H. Longert’s entertaining and poignant narrative traces the rise, fall and rebirth of one of America’s most beloved baseball teams. Books will be available for signing at the event.
Scott H. Longert is the author of Addie Joss: King of the Pitchers and has written numerous articles on baseball history for the Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine, TimeLine, The Baseball Research Journal and The National Pastime. He lives in Beachwood, Ohio.