The most impressive Cleveland Indians' statistic released yesterday wasn't the league-leading seven home runs in a single game. It wasn't Mark Reynolds' .301 batting average through April (a career high) or Carlos Santana's ludicrous .476 On-base percentage. It wasn't even Ryan Raburn's second consecutive game with two home runs.
It was the fact that five current MLB managers have connections to the 1988 Cleveland Indians. Five. The statistical unlikelihood is almost mind-boggling, wrote Scott Miller, senior baseball columnist for CBSSports in his feature about the phenomenon.
Then, as now, Cleveland was a blue-collar city which prided itself on traditional standards. A billboard back in the day read, "Cleveland: The Home of Superman, Rock 'n' Roll and WMMS 100.7 FM." Today, WMMS is the "FM radio home for your Cleveland Indians."
Maybe, it was something in the air. The record-high temperature in the city, after all, was set on June 25, 1988 — a smokin' 104 degrees. Maybe, it was something in the Lake Erie water ... or the fertile Great Lakes soil.
Though the '88 Tribe wasn't a memorable club on the field — they only managed to win 78 games even after a scorching 16-4 start — the players were all lovers and students of the game. The locker room became a hot bed for baseball philosophy and shop talk, and it paved the way for an unheard-of managerial class.
Here are the alums:
(Manager: Cleveland Indians)
1988 Tribe Connection: 1B/DH
Francona played 62 games and batted a handsome .311.
(Manager: Boston Red Sox)
1988 Tribe Connection: Starting Pitcher
Farrell was a regular in the rotation, posting a 14-10 record by season's end with an ERA of 4.24.
(Manager: San Diego Padres)
1988 Tribe Connection: Pitcher
Black was a southpaw reliever who saw some starting action. He pitched 59 innings during the '88 campaign, going 2-3 with a single save.
(Manager: Texas Rangers)
1988 Tribe Connections: SS
Washington was a 36-year-old veteran infielder by 1988 and split time at shortstop with the young Jay Bell. In 69 games, Washington hit .256 and belted 21 RBIs.
(Manager: Philadelphia Phillies)
1988 Tribe Connection: Hitting Coach
Manuel had been a minor-league manager and was in his first season with the Indians.