The Hall Of Fame at Progressive Field became just a little bit bigger. The Cleveland Indians organization inducted former General Manager John Hart and three time All-Star second baseman Carlos Baerga.
John Hart was the man behind the curtain during some of the Indians most successful years in the 1990s including winning five straight AL Central titles, and two pennants including the first pennant in 41 years for the Tribe.
Hart continued as the General Manager of the Tribe until 2001. A career with the Indians, that began when the Tribe played in Cleveland Stadium–the outdated facility that held 80,000 fans but rarely sold out. Hart helped assist the move to Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) in 1994 and recorded 455 straight home sellouts from 1995-2001. The number 455-The Fans is also in the Cleveland Indians Hall Of Fame.
To add to the fantastic move to The Jake, the revenue from moving was so large, the Indians were able to sign Eddie Murray, Dennis Martinez and Orel Hershiser which made an already extremely talented ball club one of the most dynamic teams in MLB history.
Hart said “There’s not a bad memory here, I’ll never forget the buzz around town. I’d hear the horns honking outside the ballpark after games. People here waited so long to see the Indians win. It was truly a great time to be in Cleveland.”
Even though he says there wasn’t a bad memory, Hart has been known to say his most dissappointing moment came when the Indians lost Game 7 of the 1997 World Series to the Florida Marlins on the infamous Jose Mesa single.
The 1990s were a great era for the Tribe. The Indians were known as an offensive powerhouse which included Baerga, Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Kenny Lofton and current assistant coach Sandy Alomar Jr.
Baerga, who was also inducted after banking a .300 batting average in four straight seasons for the Tribe and made the All Star game three times. The talent Baerga had was unbelievable. Baerga, a switch hitter, hit a home run from both sides of the plate, in the same inning at Yankee Stadium in 1993.
Unfortunately Baerga didn’t finish his career with the Indians. Ironically, Hart traded the fan favorite during the 1996 season. But Baerga was greeted fondly by fans tonight at Progressive Field.
Hart, now an analyst for the MLB Network, still keeps up with his former team said, “Believe me, I have followed the Tribe regularly. I’m a closet Indians’ fan.”