Barry: Indians fans can hear that 1948 whistle blowin’

From Dan Barry at the New York Times on October 26, 2016, with mention of SABR member Stephanie Liscio:

The Cleveland Indians have not won a World Series since the Truman era; the Chicago Cubs, not since before the world war — the first one. Their championship seasons were so yesteryear that both teams traveled by train, in part because major league baseball had yet to expand west of St. Louis.

In fact, when the Indians beat the Boston Braves in 1948 to win their last World Series, they took a special train from Boston that picked up this same rail line in Albany. It then continued on to Cleveland, where the giddy denizens awaiting them surely believed that other championships would follow, the Yankees be damned.

And the gods laughed. Cleveland baseball fans have suffered exquisitely over the last 70-odd years, though the particulars of their misery are not nearly as well known as the anguish in Chicago. For every curse of the Billy Goat, for every foul ball stirring Steve Bartman’s 10th-man instincts, there is a Cleveland moment to match.

Consider this: The Indians were two outs — two outs! — from winning the seventh game of the 1997 World Series. On that soul-crushing night, this shot-and-a-beer town said to hell with the beer, just keep the shots coming.


Being swept in the 1954 World Series? Losing the 1995 World Series? Losing six other playoffs in the last 20 years — including the 2007 American League Championship Series, after being up, three games to one, against the Boston Red Sox? Nothing compares.

“The city’s most hideous sports defeat,” says the writer Scott Raab, a Cleveland fan for whom “long-suffering” still falls short. “That was the apogee. The zenith. The pinnacle — if an abyss has a pinnacle.”

The loss reinforced an abiding air of fatalism in many Cleveland fans. “It’s this looming sense of, ‘This is feeling good, what’s going to happen to dismantle it?’ ” says Stephanie Liscio, one of the leaders of the Cleveland chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research. “I feel as though I wasn’t always like this. You’ve had your heart broken so often, but.”

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Originally published: October 26, 2016. Last Updated: October 26, 2016.