The 2016 World Series is already a historic match-up between two teams that haven’t won a title in at least 60 years. The Chicago Cubs are getting all the attention for making it to their first series since 1945 and having a chance to win for the first time since 1908. However, the Cleveland Indians have their own epic drought. True, the last time they made the Series was 1997, but they haven’t won since 1948.
The Indians Have Only Won the World Series Twice, in 1920 & 1948
The Indians have a dreadful postseason record. The franchise has existed in Cleveland since 1900 and became the Cleveland Indians in 1915. In 1920, they finally reached the World Series and beat the Brooklyn Dodgers five games to two in a best-of-nine series. As Sports Illustrated points out, the series had tragedy overshadowing it, as the Indians shortstop Ray Champman died in August that season after being hit by a ball in the head.
The Indians didn’t reach the series again until 1948, when they beat the Boston Braves, four games to two. Although that series featured the great Bob Feller, Feller lost his two starts. He pitched a complete Game 1 loss in a 1-0 pitcher’s duel with the Braves’ Johnny Sain and started the Game 5 loss that.
The 1948 series also featured the Indians’ Larry Doby, the second player to break the color barrier. Doby had seven hits in the series and a home run. Doby and pitcher Steve Gromek were captured in a hugging in an iconic photo after Game 4.
When Gromek died in 2002, Doby told the Associated Press that he would “always cherish that photograph and the memory of Gromek hugging me and me hugging him, because it proved that emotions can be put into a form not based on skin color.” Doby died the following year.
The Indians Have Lost in Three Consecutive World Series Appearances
Since winning the 1948 series, the Indians have only been to three World Series. In 1954, they were swept by the New York Giants, starting a 41-year playoff drought.
They finally reached the postseason again in 1995, when they faced the Atlanta Braves in a rematch of the 1948 series (the Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee in 1953 and then to Atlanta in 1966). It was a nail-biter of a series, as all but one game was decided by one run. The Braves finished off the Indians in Game 6, with Tom Glavine and Mark Wohlers tossing a one-hitter in 1-0 game.
Despite losing the 1995 Series, it was the start of a run of five-consecutive postseason appearances. They only reached the World Series again in 1997, when they faced the Florida Marlins. The 1997 World Series was a see-saw series that stretched to seven games. Game 7 itself stretched to 11 innings, until Edgar Renteria hit a walk-off single to end the series.
The Indians Have Been to the Postseason Just 4 Times Since 1999
Since their late 1990s stretch of postseason play from 1995 to 1999, the indiaans have only been to the postseason four times. In 2001, they lost to the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS. in 2007, they made it to the ALCS, but lost to the eventual World Series champion Boston Red Sox in a seven-game series. In 2013, current manager Terry Francona led the team to the AL Wild Card Game, with they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Indians’ Postseason Record
Here’s the Indians’ full postseason results, via Indians.com.
1920: World Series (Won against Brooklyn Dodgers, 5-2)
1948: World Series (Won against Boston Braves, 4-2)
1954: World Series (Lost to New York Giants, 0-4)
1995: World Series (Lost to Atlanta Braves, 2-4)
1996: ALDS (Lost to Baltimore Orioles, 1-3)
1997: World Series (Lost to Florida Marlins, 3-4)
1998: ALCS (Lost to New York Yankees, 2-4)
1999: ALDS (Lost to Boston Red Sox, 2-3)
2001: ALDS (Lost to Seattle Mariners, 2-3)
2007: ALCS (Lost to Boston Red Sox, 3-4)
2013: AL Wild Card (Lost to Tampa Bay Rays)
2016: World Series (Against the Chicago Cubs)