What you need to know for the upcoming season
The Indians open the Northwest League season with a five-game homestand against Eugene, beginning Tuesday, June 19, at Avista Stadium. The opener often sells out. Home games start at 6:30 pm, except for a 3:30 pm start on Tuesday, Aug. 7. The 76-game season runs through Sept. 5.
Single-game tickets are available for $9 and $6 (box seats are sold out). Senior citizens, military with proper ID and children 12 and under receive $1 off the $6 seats. For tickets, visit the Indians office at Avista Stadium from 9 am-5 pm weekdays or on game days, or phone the club at 535-2922. You also may visit TicketsWest outlets; phone TicketsWest at 325-SEAT or (800) 325-SEAT; or go to www.ticketswest.com.
All games, home and away, are broadcast live on KJRB (790 AM). Longtime sportscaster Bob Robertson handles the play-by-play.
The Indians, a farm club of the Texas Rangers, are one of eight teams in the short-season Class A Northwest League. Short-season Class A is the second-lowest of six classifications of minor league baseball, counting independent leagues that do not have ties with major league teams.
Northwest League teams are assigned players by their major league affiliate. Most players are 22 years old or younger. Some have previous minor league experience; many are turning pro after being drafted by major league teams out of college or high school earlier this month.
Major league clubs pay the salaries of Northwest League players, managers, coaches and trainers. Standard player salaries are approximately $3,000-$3,300 for 12 weeks of games and practices. Signing bonuses typically range from $1,000 to $1 million-plus for a select few players. Most players live in local homes for little or no cost during the season. Meal money on the road is $20 per day.
The first of several post-game fireworks shows will be on held on opening night, Tuesday, June 19. Baseball comedian Myron Noodleman performs Thursday, June 21. The first of four discount concessions nights is scheduled for Friday, June 22. Trucks, cars and cash are among the giveaway items during the season. The Inlander co-sponsors Baseball Hat Night on July 24.
Avista Stadium is the largest and third-oldest ballpark in the Northwest League. Built in 1958 for the Class AAA Pacific Coast League affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the stadium seats 7,162. The Indians routinely lead the Northwest League with average crowds in the neighborhood of 5,000.
Former Indians currently playing in the major leagues include New York Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran, Mets second baseman Jose Valentin, Oakland Athletics second baseman Mark Ellis, San Diego Padres relief pitcher Doug Brocail and Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt (a graduate of Northwest Christian High School). Former Indians manager Bruce Bochy now manages San Francisco, and former Indians catchers Jerry Narron and Ned Yost manage Cincinnati and Milwaukee, respectively.
How tough is it to make it to the big leagues out of li'l ol' Spokane? Well, the 30 major league teams each carry 25 players, so that's a total of 750 jobs. More than 7,000 minor league players will suit up on nearly 300 teams this summer. You do the math.
TOP 10 INDIANS NICKNAMES
Nicknames of former Spokane players, coaches or managers
1. Catcher Clarence "Choo Choo" Coleman
2. Pitching coach Jack "Tomato Face" Lamabe
3. Pitcher Don "The Man Unusual" Stanhouse
4. Third baseman Ron "The Penguin" Cey
5. First baseman-outfielder Frank "The Capital Punisher" Howard
6. Pitcher Art "King Arthur" Fowler
7. Second baseman Curt "The Professor" Roberts
8. Outfielder Tom "Wimpy" Paciorek
9. Manager "Tommy Lasagna" Lasorda
10. Pitcher Hoyt "Old Sarge" Wilhelm
TOP 10 INDIANS TRIVIA QUESTIONS
Answers are printed below.
1. What Indians player won the NCAA Division I and Northwest League batting titles in 1999?
A) Steve Hendricks B) Dave Staton C) Ken Harvey
2. What member of the Baseball Hall of Fame is part-owner of the Indians?
A) Frank Howard B) George Brett C) Tommy Lasorda
3. What speedy Spokane center fielder was the 1960 Minor League Player of the Year?
A) Willie Davis (B) Tommy Davis (C) Carlos Beltran
4. What league did the Indians play in prior to re-joining the Northwest League in 1983?
A) Western International B) International C) Pacific Coast
5. What Spokane manager turned career minor leaguer Maury Wills into a switch-hitter and paved the way for major league stardom for Wills?
A) Duke Snider B) Preston Gomez C) Bobby Bragan
6. Who stole home to score the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning of the 1988 Northwest League title game?
A) Darrell Sherman B) Mike Humphreys C) Matt Mieske
7. Steve Garvey, a Gold Glove first baseman in the majors, was moved to first because his throws were so wild when he played what position for the Indians?
A) Left field B) Catcher C) Third base
8. Ferris Field, the Indians' home prior to the construction of the current stadium in 1958, was located next to what local landmark?
A) Playfair Race Course B) Natatorium Park C) Manito Park
9. When did the Indians last win the Northwest League championship?
A) 2006 B) 2005 C) 1990
10. What was the first season Spokane fielded a minor league team?
A) 1928 (B) 1901 (C) 1890
(TRIVIA QUESTION -ANSWERS. 1-C, 2-B, 3-A, 4-C, 5-C, 6-B, 7-C, 8-A, 9-B, 10-C,)
TOP 10 INDIANS IN THE NORTHWEST LEAGUE
Based on one season in the league (short-season era)
1. Dave Staton (1989)
Minor Leagues Short-Season Player of the Year and league MVP. Only Triple Crown winner -- the league leader in batting average, home runs and runs batted in -- in league history. Struggled defensively at third base, but hit .362 with 17 homers and 72 RBIs.
2. Rick Davis (1989)
Knuckle-curveball specialist went 9-2, led league with 106 strikeouts and 1.35 earned run average.
3. Matt Mieske (1990)
Minor Leagues Short-Season Player of the Year and league MVP. Strong-armed outfielder hit .340, led league with 12 homers and 63 RBIs.
4. Ken Harvey (1999)
Led league with dazzling .397 batting average. First baseman-designated hitter smacked eight homers, drove in 41 runs in 56 games.
5. Dee Brown (1997)
Minor Leagues Short-Season Player of the Year and league MVP. Outfielder hit .326 with 13 homers, 73 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.
6. Steve Hendricks (1987)
Minor Leagues Short-Season Player of the Year and league MVP. First baseman hit .356 with nine homers and 75 RBIs.
7. Darrell Sherman (1989)
Diminutive center fielder hit .318, led league with 58 steals and 70 runs in 70 games.
8. Tom LeVasseur (1986)
Scrappy shortstop led league with .372 batting average. Stole 28 bases in 53 games.
9. Don Standley (1972)
Led league with 10 wins (against two losses) and 2.33 earned run average.
10. Jay Gainer (1990)
First baseman led league with .356 batting average. Hit 10 homers, drove in 54 runs.
TOP 10 INDIANS IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES
Based on major league careers
1. Stan Coveleski (1913-14 Indians)
Hall of Famer won 22 or more games for the Cleveland Indians from 1918-21. One of the last legal spitballers, he twice led the American League in earned run average. Finished his 14-year career with a 215-142 record and 2.88 ERA.
2. Don Sutton (1968 Indians)
Hall of Famer tied with Nolan Ryan for 14th all-time with 324 wins. Ranks seventh in career strikeouts (3,574) and innings pitched (5,282 1/3). Spent most of his 23-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
3. Hoyt Wilhelm (1971 Indians)
Hall of Famer ranks fifth all-time with 1,070 games pitched. Knuckleballer didn't make his big league debut until going 15-3 with the New York Giants at age 28, but played until he was 49. Won 143 games and saved 227.
4. Bob Meusel (1917 Indians)
Led New York Yankees teammates Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and everyone else in the American League with 33 home runs and 138 RBIs in 1925. Hit .313 or better his first five seasons in the majors. Retired with .309 average and 156 homers in 11 seasons.
5. George "Highpockets" Kelly (1913 Indians)
Hall of Fame first baseman drove in 100 or more runs five times. Hit over .300 seven times in 16-year career, finished with .297 average and 148 home runs. Spent bulk of career with New York Giants.
6. Carlos Beltran (1996 Indians)
New York Mets center fielder is one of the few Northwest League Indians who have had a major impact in the major leagues. In eight full seasons, Beltran has hit .273, played sterling defense and averaged 29 homers, 102 RBIs and 32 stolen bases.
7. Willie Davis (1960 Indians)
One of the fastest players in baseball history, Davis twice led National League in triples. Stole 398 bases, won three Gold Gloves, hit .279 with 182 homers in 18 seasons, primarily as center fielder for Los Angeles Dodgers.
8. Frank Howard (1959-60 Indians)
The monstrous first baseman-outfielder belted 382 homers in 14 seasons in the bigs. Led American League with 44 homers in 1968 and 1970 with Washington Senators. Had .273 career average.
9. Ken Williams (1916 Indians)
Might be the only player in history who retired after batting .345. Left fielder led American League with 39 home runs and 155 RBIs for St. Louis Browns in 1922. Posted .319 average and 196 homers in 14 seasons.
10. Bill Madlock (1973 Indians)
So bad defensively, he couldn't catch a cold. But oh baby, could he hit. Versatile infielder won two National League batting titles with the Chicago Cubs in the 1970s, won two more with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1980s. Had .305 career average, 163 home runs in 15 seasons.