The Cleveland Indians are a team of change. They should make another one.
At 88, former slugger Rocky Colavito finally witnessed the unveiling of his statue last week, but it isn’t placed where it should be. The Indians, who will be known as the Cleveland Guardians next season, need to make another change so Colavito’s statue can rest where it belongs.
Was Rocky Colavito responsible for The Curse in Cleveland?
Some say Colavito is the reason the Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. Ever since Colavito, a beloved star in Cleveland, was shockingly traded to the Detroit Tigers for Harvey Kuenn in April of 1960, Cleveland has been cursed, at least in the baseball world. In fact, the curse seemingly began hours after the trade.
The Indians were in Memphis for an exhibition game, playing at Russwood Park. Colavito led off the second inning by smacking a home run to give the Indians a 1-0 lead. Moments after the homer, Indians general manager Frank Lane entered the press box with some shocking news. He told reporters he had just traded Colavito to the Tigers for Kuenn, the reigning American League batting champion.
According to The Commercial Appeal, four hours after the game ended, Russwood Park caught fire and burned.
At first, it seemed The Curse covered all Cleveland sports. LeBron James, however, helped get basketball off the hook when the Cavaliers won the NBA title in 2016. The Browns had been the laughingstock of the NFL in recent years, but have turned things around. Despite the recent success, they have never appeared in a Super Bowl. The Indians reached the World Series in 1995, 1997, and 2016, but came up short each time.
Rocky Colavito witnessed the unveiling of his long-overdue statue
Last week, a statue of Colavito was unveiled at Tony Brush Park in Little Italy, a neighborhood in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. According to Cleveland19.com, the topic of a Colavito statue was tossed around during the MLB All-Star Game festivities in Cleveland in 2019. Mark Sommer, the author of ‘Rocky Colavito: Cleveland’s Iconic Slugger,’ organized an event to help promote his book. During that gathering, talk of the Colavito statue heated up.
“That night, some of us were talking… there should be a statue for Rocky in Cleveland,” Sommer said.
Talk of the statue never faded. It became a reality on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, and Colavito, 88, was in attendance. The former outfielder, who played in nine MLB All-Star Games, was emotional at the microphone.
“Cleveland is absolutely my favorite city in this whole world,” Colavito said as he began to choke up. “I’m really thankful and happy that God chose me to play in Cleveland. I’m honored and overwhelmed by the presence of each and every one of you. It’s so wonderful to see such a turnout as this.”
Colavito’s statue belongs at Progessive Field
The hope was to have the statue rest outside Progressive Field. The Indians, however, have a policy that statues outside the stadium are reserved only for players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, according to Cleveland19.com. Colavito, who was on the Hall of Fame ballot, had some pretty big numbers.
In 1959, he led the AL in home runs with 42. In his second season with the Tigers, he collected career highs in homers (45) and RBIs (140). He finished his 14-year career with 374 home runs, and he finished in the top five in the MVP voting three times.
After his four years with the Tigers, he played a season with the Kansas City Athletics before returning to Cleveland for two more seasons. At the end of his career, he also played sparingly with the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the New York Yankees.
David Waters of The Commercial Appeal referred to Colavito as the Mickey Mantle of Cleveland. Colavito was the face of the Indians during his playing days. Despite being a terrific ballplayer, he was also a fan favorite – always putting fans first. Everything changed in Cleveland when the Indians traded him in what might be the most unpopular trade in the city’s history.
As the Indians get ready to change to the Guardians, they should also change their statue policy and bring Colavito’s to Progressive Field where it belongs.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.