THE CURSE OF ROCKY COLAVITO by Terry Pluto

THE CURSE OF ROCKY COLAVITO

A Loving Look at a Thirty-Year Slump

KIRKUS REVIEW

 The Cleveland Indians have been so bad for the past three decades that even hapless Chicago Cubs fans can take heart. ``At least,'' says Pluto (Loose Balls, 1990; Tall Tales, 1992), the Cubs ``have some almosts and September swoons'' to cherish; the Tribe hasn't been close to a title since 1959. The once-vaunted Indians (think of Bob Feller, Larry Doby, Lou Boudreau, Bob Lemon) began the plunge to sub-mediocrity, Pluto writes, either in 1960 with Frank ``Trader'' Lane's infamous trade of popular slugger Rocky Colavito or back in 1957, when Gil McDougald's line drive caught pitching phenom Herb Score smack in the face. Using contemporary sports pages and the recollections of players such as Score (who's been an Indians' broadcaster since the 1960's), Colavito, ``Sudden'' Sam McDowell, Jim ``Mudcat'' Grant, and Ray Fosse; radio-TV personalities such as Pete Franklin and Nev Chandler; and former front office officials like Bob Quinn, Gabe Paul, and Ted Bonds, Pluto captures three decades of astounding futility. It was a cast of characters and a series of bizarre happenings that annually reaffirmed Cleveland Stadium as ``the mistake on the Lake.'' There was the enormously talented McDowell, the overpowering pitcher with the ``million-dollar arm and a ten- cent head''; left-hander Jack Kralick (the youthful Pluto's favorite Indian), perhaps best remembered for a fight with roommate Gary ``Ding Dong'' Bell over what TV show they'd watch; the late 1970's Rick Manning-Dennis-and-Denise Eckersley love triangle; ``Super'' Joe Charbonneau, a kid who opened beer bottles with his eye socket and removed a tooth with a razor blade and a pair of pliers, Rookie of the Year in 1980, but back in the minors just months later. Then, of course, there was 1973's Ten-Cent Beer Night, when the Indians had to forfeit a game as thousands of drunken fans poured onto the field. Irresistible. Like a nostalgic shuffle through your old baseball cards. (16 pp b&w photos--not seen)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-671-86908-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1994




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