The Indians’ bats are red-hot and the home runs are stacking up. This summer looks like it could be shaping up as one to remember for Tribe faithful.
When was the last time you had this much fun watching the Cleveland Indians? If it’s been a while, maybe it’s time to jog your memory…
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Compiled from reader tweets, fans at the ballpark and an astute panel of Cleveland media members that were present for many of these moments, here’s a list of our top 10 home runs hit at Progressive Field…
No. 10 – Bill Selby Walk-off grand slam off Mariano Rivera
(July 14th, 2002)
In a year that marked the beginning of another Indians re-build, it was one of the few genuinely enjoyable moments of that season.
With playoff hopes in the rear view mirror and nine games below .500, it was no shock to see the Indians down 7-0 by the fourth inning. After managing to muster up four runs and bring it within three, the Yanks called on their lights-out closer, Mariano Rivera for the save.
After allowing two runs to score, with two outs, Rivera intentionally walked slugger Jim Thome to load the bases and take his chances with utility-man Bill Selby. Walk-off grand slam. We don’t know who was more shocked, Selby or Rivera- who gave up the first walk-off homer of his career.
Selby was out of baseball less than a year later.
We hear Rivera went on to have a decent career.
No. 9 – Albert Belle ’96 ALDS last hurrah grand slam
(October 4th, 1996)
Despite a 99-win season and top-seed in the AL playoffs, Baltimore got hot at the right time, against the Indians.
Down two games to none, the two teams exchanged runs in the early innings and remained tied through seven.
After Jesse Orosco walked the bases loaded, Armando Benitez was brought in to face Albert Belle, who hammered a grand slam to make it 8-4.
The Indians went on to win the game, but lost the series in a 12-inning heartbreaker the following night.
Belle’s grand slam would be the last home run he hit as a Cleveland Indian.
No. 8 – Paul Sorrento 9-run rally walk-off
(June 4th, 1995)
It was a sign of things to come for the Indians.
Jason Grimsley dug the Indians into an early hole, giving up eight runs in three innings to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Tribe’s high-potent offense clawed their way back into the game, scoring seven runs to bring them within one.
It was the bottom of the ninth, two outs, one on with Paul Sorrento at the plate. On the first pitch from Darren Hall, Sorrento hit a two-run walk-off homer to cap off the nine-run rally.
No. 7 – Albert Belle Famous ‘bicep flex’
(October 4th, 1995)
Fans, tired and cold, began to trickle out of the ballpark after Tim Naehring’s solo shot gave Boston the lead in the 11th inning.
But the Indians wouldn’t go quietly, as Albert Belle drilled one deep to tie the game up once again.
Cameras then caught Belle flexing his bicep and pointing to it, in response to then Red Sox manager Kevin Kennedy’s accusation that his bat was corked.
The home run kept the Tribe alive for two more innings before Tony Pena’s walk-off (see no. 5) won it.
No. 6 – Manny Ramirez ‘Wow’
(July 16th, 1995)
The game itself didn’t hold much significance, as the Indians had already locked down the AL Central with a 13.5 game lead over Kansas City.
Legendary closer Dennis Eckersley was in his last year with the Oakland A’s, and had only blown two saves to this point in the season.
After tying the game in the 7th, the two teams grinded it out until the 12th inning when down to his last strike, ‘Man Ram’ crushed an inside fastball for an extra innings walk-off homer.
Eckersley shook his head in disbelief as the ball effortlessly carried into the bleachers, famously uttering one word.
No. 5 – Tony Pena Game 1 ’95 ALDS
(October 4th, 1995)
It was the first postseason appearance for the franchise since the ’54 World Series.
It was delayed 39 minutes due to rain.
It took over six hours to play.
But it was worth it.
In a game that was tied up three different times, each with home runs, it was the Indians who had the parting shot.
With two outs in the 13th inning, 15-year veteran Tony Pena drilled a fastball from Boston reliever Zane Smith to win the game just as the clock struck 2am.
No. 4 – Jim Thome 511-foot moonshot
(July 3rd, 1999)
Everyone remembers when Jim Thome hit it out of the park, literally.
Fans saw holiday fireworks a day early when Thome blasted one 511 feet to dead center, landing out on to Eagle Avenue.
The landing site is now the future home of a Jim Thome statue, while Don Wengert’s name will forever live in trivia infamy as the pitcher who gave up the park’s longest homer.
No. 3 – Sandy Alomar Jr. ’97 All-Star Game
(July 8th, 1997)
In his fifth All-Star Game appearance, Sandy Alomar Jr. became the first player to win the MVP Award in an All-Star game hosted in his home ballpark. He was also the first Cleveland Indian to win the award.
He clinched the honor after his seventh inning tie-breaking two-run homer off of Giants pitcher Shawn Estes gave the American League a 3-1 lead to eventually win the game.
Alomar says to this day, it was one of the most proud moments of his career.
No. 2 – Mark McGwire hits Budweiser sign on scoreboard
(April 30th, 1997)
Even though it wasn’t hit by the home team, Mark McGwire’s 485-foot bomb to left off of Orel Hershiser left a mark on our memory and the scoreboard.
At the time, the Oakland A’s slugger would hit the longest homer at Jacobs Field, hitting the Budweiser sign just below the scoreboard.
No. 1 – Sandy Alomar Jr. Game 4 of ’97 ALDS off Mariano Rivera
(October 5th, 1997)
The Indians were on the brink of elimination, down two games to one to the defending World Series Champion Yankees.
With two outs in the eighth, down 2-1, Sandy Alomar Jr. hit a game-tying home run off of Mariano Rivera.
The Tribe went on to win the game and eventually took the series in game five.
As far as honorable mentions go, I’ll leave those up to the readers. Discuss.