Why are you an Indians fan??

I am curious to hear why everyone on here is an Indians fan - specifically those who aren't from Cleveland - and I wanted to share my story with you while I procrastinate doing my psychology homework.

For me, being from Delaware we don't have a sports team. The closest MLB team to us is the Baltimore Orioles. When I was young the O's were actually a really good team and when I was around 6 my dad took me to B-More for the first game ever played at Camden Yards....which just happened to be against the Cleveland Indians. All of my friends were Ripken fans, Griffey fans and Thomas fans. I watched those guys and liked them but baseball never had me hooked...but my first game I was in awe watching Albert Belle crush balls into the upper deck and into Utah street a few of them hitting the warehouse during batting practice. Cal Ripken wasn't doing that nor was any player from either team for that matter. When the actual game started Charles Nagy pitched a - I believe it was - a 1 hitter. Belle had a good game - I don't remember his exact stats but I was in awe watching him play.

The Indians were still a bad team in 1992 and were rarely on TV; but the few times they were (usually playing Baltimore on the local Maryland station) I made sure I watched them. My dad also started taking me to a local sports card shop every Friday when I received my allowance and I would buy up all the dealers Albert Belle cards. After awhile of this me & my dad struck up a friendship with the dealer and he sold us all of his Indians cards (I guess the demand for a non local often last place team wasn't that high) at a really good value...usually a penny a card. I continued to go to this card shop almost every week for about a decade.

The Indians would of course, start to become dominant soon after I decided that I was an Albert Belle and therefore - a Cleveland Indians fan. And starting around 1994 they started airing Tribe games on national TV more frequently. By 1995 they were one of the biggest stories in baseball and seemed like they were on Sunday Night Baseball every other week. By tuning in to watch Albert Belle's vicious violent swing every opportunity I had, I also started to become fans of the "other guys" like Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome.

The first I remember ever crying in my life was game 6 of the 1995 World Series.....and of course Belle would be gone from Cleveland after the 1996 season. I was torn on who to root for - the team I had been following the last five seasons - or the division rival Chicago White Sox; who my favorite player and the guy that got me into the game I loved so much was now on. I was 10 or 11 at the time so you can forgive me for thinking I could like both teams; but really my loyalty lied towards Belle. I rooted hard for the Tribe in the 97 World Series but I wasn't devastated when Renteria singled up the middle in extras either. I was about a million times more depressed after the '07 ALCS than I was from what happened ten years earlier.

Albert Belle of course would be forced to retire after the 2000 season; and as far as I was concerned I didn't care if I ever watched another inning of major league baseball. I was tired of the media crapping all over what I thought was an amazing hall of fame worthy career. I remember guys like Dan Patrick in particular being happy that my childhood hero was being forced to retire due to injury. I subscribed to all kinds of magazines at the time and pretty much all of them had nothing but bad things to say about him after he retired. I remember setting my Baseball Weekly on fire for saying he had no shot at making the Hall.

I was in 10th grade at the time, I played baseball for my high school team my freshman year even moving up to JV to varsity halfway through the season. I played in middle school and had been playing little league since I was four. I decided to "hang up my cleats" and focus on wrestling. Over the next 4 1/2 years the only baseball I watched was the last few games of the 2001 World Series and games 6 & 7 of the 2004 ALCS where Boston would beat New York. All in all I watched about 4 games in 4+ years.

Sometime after the 2004 season, maybe even in early 2005, I can't pinpoint the exact time, the local card dealer called me and told me about an older gentleman that passed away. I knew him from seeing him around the card shop for years and knew he had an amazing collection. His wife sold his collection to the local dealer and he called to see if I was interested in buying any of it. I knew the guy had Mantles, tons of rookies & all kinds of high dollar inserts from the 90's that I used to drool over back in my collecting days. I agreed to check out what the guy had and decided I would be a buyer only if I was going to get a great deal as I didn't really care too much about cards anymore. I ended up spending about $500 on several thousand cards - because the deal was so good. The guy had dozens and dozens of Mantles and cards worth thousands of dollars so the cards I wanted - the Belle, Griffey, Thomas, Maddux, ect. inserts and rookies went to the back burned of the collection and I got them at a good buy.

I ended up putting the cards in my closet with the rest of my collection and had forgotten about them for some time after I purchased them. In June of 2005 I broke my tibia and fibula and had surgery. It was an 8-12 week recovery period and I got real bored real fast. One day I remembered about the cards I bought not too long ago and thought looking through and sorting them - maybe putting them in binders or cases - would eat up a couple days of time. After going through them it really started to spark up my interest in baseball again for the first time in 5 years. Looking at the cards seeing Griffey's sweet swing, Thomas, Bonds, Piazza, ect. I started to wonder about them. As far as I knew they were all still active.

MLB Extra Innings was running some kind of free promotion for a couple weeks after the all-star game where they were letting you watch all the games. I never knew Extra Innings existed and I have to admit after a 5 year absence of seeing almost no baseball - I was starting to get hooked again. Seeing Griffey, Sosa, Bagwell, Big Hurt, ect. was pretty fun. Then I stumbled across an Indians game. I knew exactly no nobody on the team - literally I never heard of any of them. But still there was something about seeing Chief Wahoo and watching the Tribe play - I started to fall in love again. Like in 1992 - the Indians weren't very good - I believe they were in 3rd or 4th place around this time.

I started to watch every Tribe game and even ordered the extra innings package after the two week free preview. It didn't take long to notice that they had some pretty good hitters in Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, Jhonny Peralta and Grady Sizemore; and good young arms in Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia. Oddly enough after I started watching the Tribe they started to become pretty dominant and giving the White Sox a run for their money....towards the end of the year I thought maybe this team was going to run deep into the playoffs. The Indians of course ended up kind of choking the last week and missing the playoffs - but they still won 93 games and they captured my heart again. I ended up having two more surgeries during the '05 off season and to kill time I would get on the internet and do all the research I could on the Cleveland Indians. As corny as it sounds the Cleveland Indians made me fall in love with the game that meant so much to me growing up.

I have ordered the MLB package every year since the '05 season and every year it seems the Indians get even more important to me. I don't know how I ever turned my back on the game of baseball - or on the Cleveland Indians in general....but thank God I started to watch again in '05 because despite all the heartache they give me (game 7 of the '07 ALCS) I can't put a price on the joy they - and the game in general give me everyday. No matter what happens - even if they never win a world series in my lifetime - I will always be loyal and have mad love for the Tribe the rest of my life.

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