Highway 61 Revisited*
Look who is moseying down the highway, our first repeat visitor, Edward Carre Morgan. Prior to his becoming the best #51, Morgan wore uniform #61 in the inaugural season of numbers in 1929. After his debut season in 1928, Morgan started 79 games in RF in 1929 at the age of 25. And in 297 PA, he put up a 313/366/494 123 OPS+ stat line. As stated previously, he switched to #51 in 1930, earning top spot there, before concluding his Tribe career in #33 from 1931-1933.
*Bob Dylan’s magnus opus includes "Like A Rolling Stone", "Ballad of a Thin Man", "Desolation Row" as well as the album title as critically acclaimed songs.
Whenever LOOGY James Richard Poole entered the game, he seemed to have a fearful look on his face. Originally a 9th round pick of the Dodgers in 1988, Poole arrived in the majors in late 1990. But Poole would start his nomadic tour of the majors shortly thereafter. Before the 1991 season, he was sent to the Rangers for a couple of minor leaguers. The Orioles claimed him off waivers that same May. And Baltimore would be his home for the next three seasons, his longest streak.
In 1995, Hart signed him to the Tribe bullpen, and he was very effective, 3.75 ERA (125 ERA+), 1.132 WHIP and 7.3 K/9 in 50.1 IP. He pitched even better in 1996, but was dealt to the Giants for Mark Carreon in July. He had an awful 1997 for the Giants (58 ERA+) and was released in June 1998. The Indians signed him shortly thereafter, but he mostly ineffective in his 7 innings. He signed with the Phillies for 1999, but was released in August. Cleveland signed him again and he made 3 appearances totaling 1 inning. In 2000, he made 18 appearances with the Tigers and another 5 with the Expos, before Cleveland signed him again in June. But he only made 10 appearances in Buffalo, never getting the call-up one last time. He retired that offseason.
Poole was a member of the USA Olympic team while pitching for the Georgia Institute of Technology. He made 10 postseason appearances with the Indians in 1995 and 1998, most famously giving up the solo homer to Dave Justice in the Game 6 loss to the Braves in 1995, taking the loss. He concluded his Cleveland career with an 8-3 record, 3.81 ERA (126 ERA+) in 85 innings and 89 appearances.
*Sigmund Freud had an irrational fear of the number 62.
Instead of a groat, the real, peso and escudo were used as currency in early Venezuela, home of the best sesenta y tres, Rafael Jose Betancourt. Betancourt signed with the Red Sox as an 18 year old in 1993 as a shortstop. He was not a very good hitter with a 111/183/111, 71 PA in 1994 and 256/308/286 189 PA in 1995 for the Red Sox Gulf Coast League teams. He was promoted to the Michigan Battle Cats (Midwest-A) in 1996, but hit a paltry 167/228/250 in 187 PA. And since his glove wasn’t very good either, the Red Sox decided to try and convert him into a pitcher.
In 1997, he lit it up with a 1.95 ERA, 0.866 WHIP and 14.5 K/9 in 32.1 IP for the Battle Cats. Betancourt bounced all around the Red Sox farm system in 1998 and 1999, Sarasota Red Sox (A+), Gulf Coast Red Sox (Rookie), and the Trenton Thunder (AA). He missed all of 2000 with an injury and didn’t fare too well in his return in 2001, 5.62 ERA, 12.92 WHIP and 10.1 K/9 in 24 IP and was cut loose.
Betancourt missed all of 2002 before signing with the Tribe in January 2003. He dominated the Eastern League with Akron, 1.39 ERA, 1.015 WHIP, 14.9 K/9, had 4 brief appearances in Buffalo before arriving in Cleveland on July 13. He pitched very well that summer, 2.13 ERA (208 ERA+), 1.053 WHIP and 8.5 K/9 in 38 IP. He became the primary set-up reliever in 2004 and stayed there into mid-2009 before being dealt to Colorado in a salary purge. Over his 7 years in Cleveland, Betancourt compiled a 23-22 record with 17 saves, a 3.25 ERA (135 ERA+), 1.074 WHIP, 9.0 K/9 in 410 IP.
*There are 63 groats in a guinea in British pre-decimal currency.
During version 1.0 of this review, Tom Kramer looked to be the obvious winner of the Mario Kart race. But, after rebooting the system, we are going with Jason Thomas Davis as the best #64 in history. The Cleveland (TN) native attended Cleveland High School and attended Cleveland State Community College (TN) and thus was a natural pick by the Cleveland Indians in the 21st round of the 1999 draft. He pitched at Burlington (Rookie) in 2000, the Columbus (GA) Red Stixx in 2001 and split 2002 between Kinston (A+) and Akron (AA). He was a solid but unspectacular starter in those seasons.
In his cup of coffee in September 2002, Davis wore #64 and made 3 appearances, with one start versus the Twins and another versus the Royals. In his brief 14.2 innings, he had a 1.84 ERA (243 ERA+), 1.091 WHIP and 6.8 K/9. In 2003 he would switch to #50.
*The eight-bit 64 is a common term for the Commodore 64 and the Nintendo 64 as well as games Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64.
A Brief History - 61
One of the fourth outfielders the Tribe had who was decent was Alex Ramirez. In his one season as a backup in 1999, he had a 299/327/474 99 OPS+ in 102 PA. In 2000, he put up a 286/316/482 98 OPS+ in 117 PA before being dealt to Pittsburgh for Wil Cordero.
The career leader in PA for #61 is Brandon Phillips, who had 429 over the course of 2002 and 2003. But he had a terrible 212/251/319 52 OPS+ in those said 429 PA. Only two of the eight 64s were pitchers, so the career leader in IP is Jason Stanford with 87.1.
A Brief History - 62
The only other #62 of note is Bob Howry, who had a fantastic 160 ERA+ in 42.2 IP during the 2004 season. He switched over to #46 in 2005; otherwise he probably would have passed Poole.
A Brief History - 63
Before 2012, I thought Justin Masterson was well on his way to supplanting Betancourt. But as we are not counting 2012, thankfully, his 103 ERA+ in 453 IP is not impressive enough to dislodge Betancourt from the top.
A Brief History - 64
If we had counted all of Tom Kramer’s stats from 1993, he would have certainly topped Jason Davis for the top spot. But there is no clear break in the season where he switched from #64 to #29. My best guess is he switched fairly early as he ended spending the whole season in the bigs. But nobody else wore #64 or #29 that season, so I cannot make the determination.
The One Year Wonders
Ed Morgan, Grover Hartley, Chan Perry, Rich Rundles and Michael Brantley all wore uniform #61 for only one season. Cam Cairncross, Bob Howry and Trevor Crowe all wore uniform #62 for only one season. Andrew Lorraine and Andrew Lorraine all wore uniform #63 for only one season. Rudy Seanez, Jason Davis, and Fernando Cabrera all wore uniform #64 for only one season.
The All-Time List - 61
Ed Morgan 1B, CF, 3B, PR (1929) 313/366/494 123 OPS+, 297 PA; switched to #51 in 1930
Grover Hartley C (1930) 750/750/750 277 OPS+, 4 PA; was #11 in 1929
Chan Perry RF, PH, DH, PR (2000) 071/071/071 -64 OPS+, 14 PA
Jason Stanford SP, RP (2003-2004, 2007) 2-5, 23 G, 12 GS, 3.61 ERA, 87.1 IP, 124 ERA+
Rich Rundles RP (2008) 0-0, 8 G, 0 GS, 1.80 ERA, 5 IP, 252 ERA+; also #56 in 2008; switched to #56 in 2009
The All-Time List - 62
Jim Poole RP (1995-1996, 1998-1999) 8-3, 89 G, 37 GS, 3.81 ERA, 85 IP, 126 ERA+; traded to Giants for Mark Carreon
Cam Cairncross RP (2000) 1-0, 15 G, 0 GS, 3.86 ERA, 9.1 IP, 132 ERA+
Greg LaRocca 3B, PH, PR, 2B (2002-2003) 279/371/377 103 OPS+, 70 PA
Bob Howry RP (2004) 4-2, 37 G, 0 GS, 2.74 ERA, 42.2 IP, 160 ERA+; switched to #46 in 2005
Trevor Crowe LF, CF, PR (2009) 235/278/333 64 OPS+, 202 PA; also #26 in 2009; switched to #4 in 2010
The All-Time List - 63
Eric Bell RP (1991-1992) 4-2, 17 G, 1 GS, 3.78 ERA, 33.1 IP, 110 ERA+
Andrew Lorraine RP (2000) 0-0, 10 G, 0 GS, 3.86 ERA, 9.1 IP, 132 ERA+
Victor Martinez C, PH (2002) 281/333/406 99 OPS+, 36 PA; switched to #20 in 2003
The All-Time List - 64
Rudy Seanez RP (1989) 0-0, 5 G, 0 GS, 3.60 ERA, 5 IP, 119 ERA+; switched to #32 in 1990
Tom Kramer RP, SP (1991, 1993) 7-3, 43 G, 16 GS, 4.51 ERA, 125.2 IP, 97 ERA+; also #29 in 2003; traded to Reds for John Hrusovsky
Jason Davis SP, RP (2002) 1-0, 3 G, 2 GS, 1.84 ERA, 14.2 IP, 243 ERA+; switched to #50 in 2003
Statistics and such
The uniform #61 has been worn 13 times by 8 different players covering 11 seasons of a possible 84 seasons since 1929. Uniform #61 was shared in a season twice, 2000 and 2003.
The uniform #62 has been worn 9 times by 5 different players covering 9 seasons of a possible 84 seasons since 1929. Uniform #62 has never been shared in a season.
The uniform #63 has been worn 15 times by 5 different players covering 14 seasons of a possible 84 seasons since 1929. Uniform #63 was shared in a season once, 2009.
The uniform #64 has been worn 5 times by 4 different players covering 5 seasons of a possible 84 seasons since 1929. Uniform #64 has never been shared in a season.