The Cantons of Switzerland*
After two spectacular choices for best #25, the #26 had as many holes as a block of Swiss cheese. But the player to wear the uniform the longest, was also the best as well … Brook Wallace Jacoby.
Jacoby, originally born in Philadelphia, grew up in Ventura, CA, attending Ventura High School before moving onto Ventura College (JC). After two seasons of community college ball, the Atlanta Braves used a 7th round pick on him in 1979, becoming the only draft pick from that round to make the show.
After signing he played 42 games as an outfielder at the Braves affiliate in the Gulf Coast League and 8 more for the Kingsport Braves of the Appalachian League, batting .266 and slugging .394. In 1980, he opened with the Anderson Braves (South Atlantic-A) with a 296/368/508 slash before getting a late season call to the Savannah Braves (Southern-AA). In 1981, he was converted to third base and hit 292/344/501 and earned a late season cup of coffee (11PA) with the Atlanta Braves.
After spending all of 1982 with the Richmond Braves (International-AAA) with a 299/359/461 line, Jacoby would earn another cup of coffee in late 1983 after a 315/387/542 season. But the Braves had Bob Horner entrenched as their 3B (hitting a fantastic 143 OPS+ in 1983), so he was included as one of the PTBNL (along with Brett Butler) by John Mullen in the Len Barker deadline deal. This was probably one of Seghi’s best deals he ever made.
Jacoby would be an everyday player for the Tribe for the next 7.5 seasons, mostly at 3B, twice being the Tribe lone All-Star representative (1986, 1990). His best season was the infamous juiced ball year of 1987 where he hit 300/387/541 143 OPS+ with 32 HR but only 69 RBI. In 1991, Jacoby was approaching free agency, so John Hart dealt him at the deadline to the Athletics for Lee Tinsley and Apolinar Garcia. The Tribe would resign him in the offseason, but his power numbers disappeared in 1992, 261/324/326 84 OPS+ in 327 PA. He would spend his final season with the Chuncihi Dragons.
Jacoby finished his career as an Indian with a 273/338/412 106 OPS+ in 4804 PA. He was able to land on the All-Time Tribe Batting Leader board for strikeouts (738 - 7th), sacrifice flies (38 - T10th) and GIDP (131 - 4th). He is the current hitting coach for the Cincinnati Reds.
*There are 26 Cantons (states) in Switzerland
A Brief History
Like a republic supporting neutrality, there weren’t any players making a big distinction wearing #26. The first player of note probably is Hoyt Wilhelm. He got a late start in the majors, playing his first game at 29 for the Giants. His first 3 years were really good, but in 1955-1956, he was just below league average. The Giants shipped him off to the Cardinals and 40 appearances later, the Tribe claimed him off waivers. He would pitch in 2 games in 1957 and another 30 in 1958, accumulating a 3-7 record with 6 starts, a 2.49 ERA (150 ERA+) in 94 innings. But, the Indians somehow exposed him on waivers, losing him to the Orioles, where he would pitch another 14 years, mainly with the Orioles and White Sox, and complete his credentials for the Hall of Fame.
Another reliever who escaped the Tribe bullpen was Dick Brodowski. In 1958 and 1959, he put up a sparkling 280 ERA+ in 40 innings, but had a horrific 6.1 BB/9 to his 4.7 K/9 ratio. He would get into 1 game for the Reading Indians (Eastern-A) in 1960 before leaving baseball for good.
Future first base coach Ted Uhlaender played with the Indians in 1970-1971. The starting CF in 1970 and the starting LF in 1971, Uhlaender does have the distinction of having the second most PA as #30. After arriving from the Twins with Graig Nettles, Dean Chance and Bob Miller for Luis Tiant and Stan Williams, he would hit 279/329/371 and a 91 OPS+. Gabe Paul shipped him off to the Reds for Milt Wilcox.
Looking like the Red Cross, Boog Powell arrived in spring training of 1975 with Don Hood from the Orioles for Dave Duncan and Al McGrew. Powell replaced John Ellis as the 1B and would mash a 297/377/524 154 OPS+ 27 HR, 87 RBI line, his best year since 1970. But he slumped badly in 1976, 215/305/338 90 OPS+ and was released in spring training 1977.
Not to be mistaken for the Alps or Jura, Bob Wickman was the key piece of the deadline deal of Richie Sexson in 1996. Over the next 6+ years (he missed 2003 due to injury) Wickman would be the escape artist of the closer variety. Of his 255 games, he would finish 215 of them with 139 saves, and usually by walking a tightrope as his Tribe WHIP is a not so stellar 1.317. He finished his Tribe career with a 3.23 ERA and 138 ERA+. He also is the Tribe career leader in Saves, with his high of 45 in 2005 leading the league. He would also nab an All-Star appearance and finish 26th in MVP voting in 2005.
The One Year Wonders
Oral Hildebrand, Bill Knickerbocker, Eddie Moore, Tom Jordan, Tom Ferrick, Bob Kuzava, Sam Zoldak, Ernest Groth, Frank Papish, Vito Valentinetti, Bob Grim, Ty Cline, Dave Tyriver, Don Rudolph, Bob Hartman, Chico Salmon, Jim Landis, Dave Oliver, Steve Farr, Jesse Levis, Bryan Bullington, Andy Gonzalez, Trevor Crowe and Luke Carlin all wore uniform #26 for only one season.
The All-Time List
Oral Hildebrand RP, SP (1931) 2-1, 5 G, 2 GS, 4.39 ERA, 26.2 IP, 106 ERA+; traded by Indianapolis (American Association) for Les Barnhart, Zeke Bonura and Ed Montague; switched to #19 in 1932
Bill Knickerbocker SS (1933) 226/255/326, 49 OPS+, 303 PA; switched to #4 in 1934
Eddie Moore 2B (1934) 154/267/185, 18 OPS+, 75 PA
Kit Carson PH, RF (1934-1935) 250/318/400, 83 OPS+, 44 PA
Tom Ferrick RP (1946) 0-0, 9 G, 0 GS, 5.00 ERA, 18 IP, 68 ERA+; was #38 in 1942; sold to Browns
Tom Jordan C (1946) 200/263/314, 66 OPS+, 39 PA; traded by White Sox for Frankie Hayes (PTBNL)
Bob Kuzava SP (1947) 1-1, 4 G, 4 GS, 4.15 ERA, 21.2 IP, 86 ERA+; also #20 in 1947; traded with Ernest Groth to White Sox for Frank Papish
Sam Zoldak SP, RP (1948) 9-6, 23 G, 12 GS, 2.81 ERA, 105.2 IP, 145 ERA+; traded by Browns for Bill Kennedy; also #30 and #20 in 1948
Ernest Groth RP (1948) 0-0, 1 G, 0 GS, 9.00 ERA, 1 IP, 62 ERA+; also #28 in 1948 (I doubt validity that he wore both #26 and #28 in 1948); traded with Bob Kuzava to White Sox for Frank Papish
Dick Rozek RP (1950-1952) 1-0, 29 G, 4 GS, 4.39 ERA, 53.1 IP, 91 ERA+; traded with Bob Wilson to Athletics for Bob Hooper
Bob Hooper RP (1953-1954) 5-4, 60 G, 0 GS, 4.33 ERA, 104 IP, 87 ERA+; traded from Athletics for Dick Rozek and Bob Wilson; sold to Redlegs
Preston Ward 1B, PH, 3B, LF (1956-1958) 291/346/440, 110 OPS+, 343 PA; traded by Pirates for Hank Foiles; traded with Roger Maris and Dick Tomanek to Athletics for Vic Power and Woodie Held
Hoyt Wilhelm RP (1957-1958) 3-7, 32 G, 6 GS, 2.49 ERA, 94 IP, 150 ERA+; claimed off waivers from Cardinals; lost on waivers to Orioles
Dick Brodowski RP (1958-1959) 3-2, 23 G, 0 GS, 1.35 ERA, 40 IP, 280 ERA+; traded with Dick Tettelbach by Senators for Bob Usher
Bob Grim RP (1960) 0-1, 3 G, 0 GS, 11.57 ERA, 13 IP, 69 ERA+; traded by Athletics for Leo Kiely; sold to Reds
Ty Cline CF (1960) 308/308/423, 99 OPS+, 27 PA; switched to #9 in 1961
Don Rudolph RP (1962) 0-0, 1 G, 0 GS, 0.0 ERA, 0.1 IP; Rule 5 draftee from Redlegs; traded with Steve Hamilton to Senators for Willie Tasby
Bob Hartman RP (1962) 0-1, 8 G, 2 GS, 3.12 ERA, 17.1 IP, 126 ERA+; traded by Braves for Ken Aspromonte
Dave Tyriver RP (1962) 0-0, 4 G, 0 GS, 4.22 ERA, 10.2 IP, 95 ERA+; sold to Senators, but returned 6 months later
Chico Salmon RF, 2B, 1B (1964) 307/340/424, 113 OPS+, 302 PA; traded as PTBNL by Braves for Mike de la Hoz; switched to #17 during 1964 season
Jim Landis CF, PH, RF, LF (1966) 222/317/323, 85 OPS+, 180 PA; traded with Jim Rittwage by Athletics for Phil Roof and Joe Rudi; traded with Doc Edwards and Jim Weaver to Astros for Lee Maye and Ken Retzer
Lee Maye LF, PH, RF, CF (1967-1969) 267/317/398, 110 OPS+, 760 PA; traded with Ken Retzer by Astros for Doc Edwards, Jim Landis and Jim Weaver; traded to Senators for Bill Denehy
Ted Uhlaender CF, LF, PH, RF (1970-1971) 279/329/371, 91 OPS+, 1065 PA; also #11 in 1971; traded with Dean Chance, Graig Nettles and Bob Miller by Twins for Luis Tiant and Stan Williams; traded to Reds for Milt Wilcox
Tommy Smith CF, LF (1973-1974) 181/224/306, 49 OPS+, 77 PA
Boog Powell 1B, PH (1975-1976) 264/348/449, 129 OPS+, 845 PA; traded with Don Hood by Orioles for Dave Duncan and Al McGrew
Dave Oliver 2B (1977) 318/444/409, 140 OPS+, 29 PA; waiver claim from Orioles; traded to Expos for Ross Grimsley
Brook Jacoby 3B, 1B (1984-1992) 273/338/412, 106 OPS+, 4804 PA; All-Star in 1986 and 1990; traded as PTBNL with Brett Butler (PTBNL) by Braves for Len Barker; traded to Athletics for Lee Tinsley and Apolinar Garcia
Casey Candaele 2B, PH (1996-1997) 271/292/357, 65 OPS+, 72 PA
Jesse Levis C (1999) 154/214/154, -5 OPS+, 36 PA; also #39 in 2002
Bob Wickman RP (2000-2002, 2004-2006) 8-16, 255 G, 0 GS, 3.23 ERA, 248.1 IP, 138 ERA+; All-Star in 2005; 26th in MVP in 2005; traded with Jason Bere and Steve Woodard by Brewers for Richie Sexson, Paul Rigdon, Kane Davis and Marco Scutaro (PTBNL); traded to Braves for Max Ramirez
Andy Gonzalez 1B (2008) 208/367/333, 90 OPS+, 30 PA
Trevor Crowe LF, CF (2009) 235/278/333, 64 OPS+, 202 PA; also #62 in 2009; switched to #4 in 2010
Luke Carlin C (2010) 357/438/786, 235 OPS+, 16 PA; traded by Pirates for PTBNL
Statistics and such
Other fun facts, the uniform #26 has been worn 72 times by 41 different players covering 58 seasons of a possible 83 seasons since 1929. Uniform #26 was shared in a season eleven times, 1934, 1946, 1948, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1999, 2008 and 2010. It was shared by three players in 1957, 1958 and 1962.
Which tool of the Swiss Army knife would you choose?
Blade (Brook Jacoby) – tried and true at the third base bag (7 votes)
Corkscrew (Bob Wickman) – always screwing around with men on base (6 votes)
Bottle Opener (Boog Powell) – perfect for all those beers he drank after the game (1 vote)
Tweezers (Ted Uhlaender) – for picking up all those ground balls in the outfield (0 votes)
Phillips Screwdriver (Hoyt Wilhelm) – screwy how his career got off to a late start (0 votes)
Slotted Screwdriver (Dick Brodowski) – on the tool, but rarely used (0 votes)
14 total votes