Bad News Bear
Sammy. Chief. Bing. Arvel Odell Hale had been called a lot of names over the course of his life. However, on his Hall of Fame questionnaire, Odell wrote that his nickname was indeed "Bad News." Born in Hosston, Louisiana to farmers Jim and Ella Hale on August 10, 1908 or 1909 (depending on whom you ask), Hale played baseball throughout his formative years, and focused his intense interest on playing infield.
Hale began work at an oil refinery in El Dorado, Arkansas, and joined the semi-pro team there. His first "professional" team was the 1929 Class D Cotton States League Alexandria Reds. He manned third base, hit .324 and led the league in runs with 116. His strong bat and evident power led local sportswriters to claim he was simply "Bad News" for opposing pitchers.
The Chicago Cubs purchased Hale and he spent 1930 in the Three-I League. There, he hit .316 in 129 games for the Decatur Commodores. Hale spent 1931 and 1932 between the New Orleans Pelicans and Toldeo Mud Hens, and enoyed his first 25-game stint in the majors with the Indians. In 1933, Hale batted .276 with 10 home runs and 64 runs batted in his first full season. The following three years would be the best of Hale's nine-year career. Batting over .300 each season, Hale knocked in 101 runs in both 1934 and 1935, and 87 in 1936. It was during these highlight seasons that Hale wore #34 for the Tribe, after donning 7 in 1931 and 25 in 1933.
Hale might be best remembered for his part in an amazing triple play. On September 7, 1935, the Indians were playing the Boston Red Sox. Boston had the bases loaded, and Joe Cronin at bat. Cronin hit a blazing liner that smacked Hale (playing third) in the forehead. The ball ricocheted into shortstop Bill Knickerbocker's glove, who threw to the second base for the second out before Roy Hughes threw to first for the third.
Even though Hale rebounded at the plate after a poor 1937 season, a sore arm limited his playing time. By 1940, , Hale was relegated to mainly pinch hitting duties, collecting only 55 plate appearances in 48 games.
Hale was sent to Boston in December, 1940 as a part of a six-player swap. The Red Sox sent Gee Walker, Jim Bagby, Jr. and Gene Desautles to the Tribe in exchange for Hale, catcher Frankie Pytlak, and pitcher Joe Dobson. Hale's stint in Boston was a brief and unsuccessful 24 at bats in 12 games. He was claimed off waivers by the New York Giants and played through Labor Day before being sold to the Milwaukee Brewers of American Association, where he would finish his career.
Loren Dale Mitchell wore #34 for the Indians from 1948 through 1950. Mitchell manned left field for the World Champion Indians of 1948, batting .336 and finishing third for the batting title. Mitchell would be an all-star in 1949, batting .317 and leading the league in hits (203), singles (161), and triples (23). Despite his great contact and astoundingly low strikeout rates, Mitchell's OPS was rarely above .800. Mitchell and Hale shared a dubious distinction — both have led the league in caught stealing (Mitchell had 18 in 1948)
Mitchell would switch to #3 in 1951, and would finally finish his career in Brooklyn as #8.
Before becoming possibly the best Indian to wear uniform number 48, Samuel Edward McDowell donned #34 for his third season in Cleveland. Sudden Sam appeared in 14 games, making 12 starts. He won three games and lost five, and posted rather pedestrian numbers, outside of an 8.7 k/9 rate. McDowell would switch to #48 the next season, and go on to average an ERA+ of 131 over the next eight seasons.
The longest tenured #34 in Indians history, starter Steven Lowell Hargan wore three-four for eight straight seasons from 1965 to 1972. Unfortunately for the lanky right-hander, his health wasn't quite as consistent. Recurring tendinitis and a fractured ankle contributed to a rollercoaster-like career for the pitcher. Originally destined for the bullpen, Hargan surprised the team with a very solid sophomore season, going 13-10 in 21 starts (38 appearances) in 192 innings. Hargan would win 14 games, lead the AL with six shutouts, and make an all-star appearance in 1967. Hargan's control and ability would totally collapse the following two seasons due to arm troubles. He would rebound in 1970 (11-3, 2.90, 135 ERA+) before losing 13 of 14 decisions in 1971 and ending up the mop-up man out of the bullpen. Hargan would produce three decent seasons for the Rangers. He was taken by the fledgling Toronto Blue Jays in the 1976 expansion draft.
On the heels of Hargan's wild ride, James Lester Kern provided five seasons of relative calm out of the Tribe bullpen. From 1974 to 1978, Kern would win 29 games, record 46 saves, and strikeout 8.3 batters every nine innings. Kern's best season was 1976, in which he won 10 games, posted a 2.37 ERA, and struck out 111 batters in 117.2 innings. Kern was traded to the Texas Rangers in October 1978 along with Larvell Blanks for Len Barker and Bobby Bonds. Kern would post a career year his first season in Arlington, going 13-5 with a miniscule 1.57 ERA in 143 innings for the Rangers.
Before there was the media sensation Tim Tebow, there was Joseph Charboneau. The 1981 American League Rookie of the Year, Charboneau exploded on the Cleveland sports scene in 1980 with a .289/.358/.488 line, smacking 23 home runs and driving in 87 runs in only 131 games. Known for his multiple eccentricities like dyeing his hair crazy colors, his DIY dental work, and opening beer bottles with his eye socket, Super Joe captured the city's imagination. However, wherever Charboneau went, trouble certainly followed. He quit the Phillies after feuding with management, and earned a trade from Minnesota's farm system after participating in a barroom brawl. In March 1980, a crazed fan stabbed Charboneau with a pen knife, yet he still managed to play opening day about a month later. His meteoric rise was nearly as dramatic as his precipitous fall. A back injury from a head-first slide led to decimated production numbers, and demotions to AAA and AA. Offering a Cliff-Lee-esque gesture to the fans during a AA Buffalo Bisons game sealed Charboneau's fate. He was released. The Pittsburgh Pirates took a flier on Super Joe in 1984, but he had limited success.
Let's just not talk about Juan Rincon, okay?
The One Year Wonders
Ray Gardner, Lou Boudreau, Elmer Weingartner, Eddie Robinson, Hal Peck, Jose Santiago, Joe Caffie, Mike de la Hoz, Sam McDowell, Jerry Walker, Brent Strom, Steve Farr, Jose Roman, Ed Wojna, Danny Sheaffer, Matt Turner, Mark Wohlers, Dan Miceli, Kevin Millwood, Juan Rincon and Corey Kluber all wore uniform #34 for only one season.
The All-Time List
Ray Gardner SS (1929) 262/337/301, 63 OPS+, 296 PA; switched to #49 in 1930
Odell Hale 3B, 2B (1934-1936) 308/367/488, 114 OPS+, 1957 PA; was #25 in 1933; switched to #4 in 1937
Lou Boudreau 3B (1938) 000/500/000, 37 OPS+, 2 PA; switched to #5 in 1939
Soup Campbell CF, PH, LF (1940-1941) 246/315/318, 70 OPS+, 433 PA
Oris Hockett RF, CF, LF (1942-1944) 270/324/358, 100 OPS+, 1808 PA; 17th in MVP voting in 1943; All-Star in 1944; acquired from Nashville Volunteers (Southern Association-A1) as part of a conditional deal; traded to White Sox for Eddie Carnett
Earl Henry RP (1944-1945) 1-4, 17 G, 3 GS, 5.03 ERA, 39.1 IP, 66 ERA+
Elmer Weingartner SS (1945) 231/302/256, 66 OPS+, 44 PA;
Eddie Robinson 1B (1946) 400/438/733, 233 OPS+, 34 PA; was #31 in 1942; switched to #3 in 1947
Hal Peck RF (1947) 293/342/411, 110 OPS+, 422 PA; traded with Gene Bearden and Al Gettel by Yankees for Sherm Lollar and Ray Mack; switched to #36 in 1948
Dale Mitchell LF (1948-1950) 321/377/421, 111 OPS+, 1918 PA; All-Star in 1949; 26th in MVP voting in 1949; was #33 in 1947; switched to #3 in 1951
Dave Pope LF, PH, CF, RF, PR (1954-1956) 283/337/442, 106 OPS+, 304 PA; was #6 in 1952; traded with Wally Westlake to Orioles for Gene Woodling and Billy Cox; traded by Orioles for Hoot Evers; traded with Larry Raines to Toronto Maple Leafs (International-AAA) for Bobby Tiefenauer
Jose Santiago RP (1955) 2-0, 17 G, 0 GS, 2.48 ERA, 32.2 IP, 163 ERA+; was #38 in 1954; also #51 in 1955; sold to Athletics
Joe Caffie RF, PH (1957) 270/301/416, 94 OPS+, 95 PA; was #33 in 1956
Don Ferrarese RP, SP (1958-1959) 8-7, 43 G, 20 GS, 3.48 ERA, 170.2 IP, 107 ERA+; traded with Larry Doby by Orioles for Gene Woodling, Dick Williams and Bud Daley; traded with Minnie Minoso, Jake Striker and Dick Brown to White Sox for Norm Cash, John Romano and Bubba Phillips
Wynn Hawkins SP, RP (1960-1962) 12-13, 48 G, 30 GS, 4.17 ERA, 202.2 IP, 94 ERA+; sold to Mets
Mike de la Hoz SS, 3B (1960) 256/290/431, 95 OPS+, 178 PA; also #1 in 1960; switched to #1 in 1961
Sam McDowell SP (1963) 3-5, 14 G, 12 GS, 4.85 ERA, 65 IP, 75 ERA+; was #17 in 1962; switched to #48 in 1964
Jerry Walker RP (1964) 0-1, 6 G, 0 GS, 4.66 ERA, 9.2 IP, 80 ERA+; also #48 in 1964
Steve Hargan SP, RP (1965-1972) 56-74, 221 G, 144 GS, 3.78 ERA, 1053 IP, 93 ERA+; traded to Rangers for Bill Gogolewski (PTBNL)
Brent Strom SP, RP (1973) 2-10, 27 G, 18 GS, 4.61 ERA, 123 IP, 87 ERA+; traded with Bob Rauch by Mets for Phil Hennigan; traded as PTBNL with Terry Ley (PTBNL) for Steve Arlin
Jim Kern RP (1974-1978) 29-30, 185 G, 12 GS, 3.14 ERA, 396 IP, 119 ERA+; All-Star in 1977 and 1978; traded with Larvell Blanks to Rangers for Bobby Bonds and Len Barker
Joe Charboneau LF, DH, PH, RF (1980-1982) 266/329/453, 114 OPS+, 722 PA; Rookie of the Year in 1980; traded by Phillies for Cardell Campbell
Steve Farr SP, RP (1984) 3-11, 31 G, 16 GS, 4.58 ERA, 116 IP, 90 ERA+; also #58 in 1984; traded by Pirates for John Malkin
Jose Roman SP (1986) 1-2, 6 G, 5 GS, 6.55 ERA, 22 IP, 64 ERA+; was #31 in 1985; traded to Mets for Mike Westbrook
Eddie Williams 3B (1987-1988) 176/268/259, 43 OPS+, 98 PA; also #24 in 1987; traded to White Sox for Ed Wojna and Joel Davis
Danny Sheaffer DH, 3B (1989) 063/167/063, -33 OPS+, 19 PA
Ed Wojna RP, SP (1989) 0-1, 9 G, 3 GS, 4.09 ERA, 33 IP, 98 ERA+; also #50 in 1989; traded with Joel Davis by White Sox for Eddie Williams
Matt Turner RP (1994) 1-0, 9 G, 0 GS, 2.13 ERA, 12.2 IP, 224 ERA+; traded by Marlins for Jeremy Hernandez
Dave Burba SP (1998-2002) 57-35, 142 G, 127 GS, 4.65 ERA, 799.2 IP, 103 ERA+; traded by Reds for Sean Casey
Mark Wohlers RP (2002) 3-4, 64 G, 0 GS, 4.79 ERA, 71.1 IP, 92 ERA+
Dan Miceli RP (2003) 1-1, 13 G, 0 GS, 1.20 ERA, 15 IP, 375 ERA+; sent to Yankees as part of conditional deal
Cliff Lee SP (2003-2004) 17-11, 42 G, 42 GS, 5.02 ERA, 231.1 IP, 87 ERA+; also #65 in 2003; switched to #31 in 2005
Kevin Millwood SP(2005) 9-11, 30 G, 30 GS, 2.86 ERA, 192 IP,
147 ERA+; 6th in Cy Young voting in 2005
Juan Rincon RP (2008) 1-1, 23 G, 0 GS, 5.60 ERA, 27.1 IP, 77 ERA+
Kerry Wood RP (2009-2010) 4-7, 81 G, 0 GS, 4.80 ERA, 75 IP, 87 ERA+; traded to Yankees for Matt Cusick (PTBNL) and Andrew Shive (PTBNL)
Statistics and such
Other fun facts, the uniform #34 has been worn 71 times by 37 different players covering 64 seasons of a possible 84 seasons since 1929. Uniform #34 was shared in a season seven times, 1944, 1945, 1955, 1960, 1989, 2002 and 2003.