CLEVELAND – The Indians are about to begin their 28th season at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. The building has hosted a number of special moments, playing in three World Series, taking 10 division titles and making plenty of memories in between. But which moments stand out as the best?
Let’s take a look at the top 10 moments in Jacobs/Progressive Field history:
1) Davis’ clutch Game 7 homer
Nov. 2, 2016
Even in one of the Indians’ most painful losses in club history, Rajai Davis provided a moment that will be difficult to ever top. The Tribe was trailing by three runs in the eighth when Cubs reliever Aroldis Chapman gave up an RBI double to Brandon Guyer to cut the deficit to 2. With Guyer on second, Davis connected on a 2-2 fastball that cleared the 19-foot wall in left field, knotted the game at 6 and sent Progressive Field into an uproar. Players were flying out of the third-base dugout as they watched the ball fly over the wall. Although the game didn’t end in the Tribe’s favor, Davis found a way to force a smile that night when he was asked to re-live his magical moment.
“Definitely one of my most thrilling moments ever,” he said after the game.
2) The first clinch in 40 years
Sept. 8, 1995
The last time the Indians had made it to the playoffs was 1954 when the roster consisted of players like Larry Doby, Bob Feller, Al Rosen and Bob Lemon. The team then went 40 consecutive seasons without clinching another postseason berth since it was swept in the ’54 World Series by the New York Giants. That streak ended when a foul pop-up landed in Jim Thome’s glove on Sept. 8 to secure the Tribe’s spot in the ’95 playoffs. The Indians ended the regular season with a 100-44 record and made it all the way to Game 6 of the World Series before coming up just short of their ultimate goal. But the moment signified that the club had finally turned a corner and was going to be more competitive than it had in the last few decades.
3) Walk off christens new park
April 4, 1994
President Bill Clinton showed up to the grand opening of Jacobs Field to throw out the first ceremonial pitch of the Tribe’s new ballpark. The crowd roared in applause when he threw a perfect strike, as the 41,459 in attendance were ready to witness the Indians play at their new home after spending the previous 61 years at Cleveland Stadium. But little did they know the excitement they were in store for. With the game tied at 3 and two outs and two runners on in the bottom of the 11th, Wayne Kirby served a base hit down the left-field line to plate Eddie Murray, handing the Tribe a walk-off victory in the first game at Jacobs Field.
4) Two hometown All-Star Game MVPs
July 8, 1997 and July 9, 2019
Jacobs/Progressive Field has hosted two All-Star Games (1997, 2019) in its 28 seasons of existence. In ’97, the game was tied, 1-1, in the seventh inning. With two outs and Bernie Williams on base, Alomar drove a low breaking ball over the left-field wall for a two-run, game-deciding shot. After the game, he was presented with the MVP trophy in front of a home crowd, as his son, Marcus, jumped onto the field to greet him.
Fast forward to 2019 and Bieber was toeing the rubber at Progressive Field in the fifth inning of the All-Star Game. He relieved Lucas Giolito, ready to face Willson Contreras, Ketel Marte and Ronald Acuna Jr. He struck Contreras out on a 2-2 fastball and then fanned Marte with an 83.9-mph curve. With the entire crowd chanting, “Shane Bieber,” the then-24-year-old rang up Acuna on an 85.5-mph slider on the outside corner, as his skipper, Terry Francona, celebrated like a proud father in the dugout. Bieber’s performance also earned him the All-Star Game MVP trophy in front of the home crowd.
5) The 22nd straight victory
Sept. 14, 2017
The “Bruce” chants radiated through Progressive Field. The Indians had already set the AL record for longest win streak at 21 games and they were on the cusp of 22. After entering the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by one, Francisco Lindor hit a two-out RBI double to knot the game at 2. With runners on first and second in the 10th, Jay Bruce sent a 2-0 fastball down the right-field line for a double to give the Indians sole possession of the second longest win streak in Major League history with a 3-2 win over the Royals. His teammates doused him in baby powder and water in the middle of the field in what would become their final celebration during the historic run.
6) Alomar game-tying HR off Rivera
Oct. 5, 1997
More men have walked on the moon (12) than have scored an earned run off Mariano Rivera in the postseason (11), but Alomar became one of those 11 in Game 4 of the ’97 ALDS. The Tribe was trailing the Yankees, 2-1, entering the bottom of the eighth. With two outs, Alomar smacked a solo homer that just squeaked over the right field wall, knotting the score at 2. Jacobs Field erupted in cheers as Alomar rounded first base with both fists high above his head. The Indians would go on to win in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off infield single by Omar Vizquel.
7) The 12-run comeback
Aug. 5, 2001
The Tribe accomplished a feat that’s only been done three times. After falling behind the Mariners, 14-2, through six innings, the Indians completed a comeback of a lifetime. Cleveland scored three runs in the seventh, four in the eighth and five in the ninth to force the game into extra innings. The Indians were down to their last strike in the ninth when Vizquel served a three-run triple into right field. Then, in the bottom of the 11th, Jolbert Cabrera delivered the walk-off single to secure the victory.
8) Giambi’s pinch-hit walk-off homer
Sept. 24, 2013
Cleveland was creating a September to remember in the middle of its first winning season in six years. In the throes of an AL Wild Card race, 42-year-old Jason Giambi was sent to the plate in place of Matt Carson with a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth. The Indians were trailing the White Sox by one when Giambi launched a walk-off homer to allow the Tribe to hold on to the second AL Wild Card spot. It was the club’s fifth consecutive victory before going on to win-out through the remainder of the Indians’ schedule, coming out on top in their last 10 games.
9) Naquin’s inside-the-park walk-off homer
Aug. 19, 2016
Tyler Naquin may not have been able to catch his breath, but that didn’t stop him from leaping to his feet and thrusting his arm high above his head as he let out a celebratory scream while his teammates jumped on him. The Indians were tied at 2 with the Blue Jays in the bottom of the ninth when Naquin hit a ball off the right-field wall that trickled away from B.J. Upton. Naquin raced around the bases, losing his helmet around third, and he scored the winning run on a walk-off inside-the-park home run.
10) The attack of the midges
Oct. 5, 2007
There’s no way any Indians fans (or Yankees fans, for that matter) will ever forget the image of hundreds of midges swarming Joba Chamberlain’s head. It was Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS, and the Indians were trailing, 1-0, to the Yankees when the midges decided to attack. Chamberlain replaced Andy Pettitte in the seventh, but when he returned to the mound in the eighth, there were so many gnat-like bugs on his face and flying around his head that he was unable to find the strike zone.
Chamberlain, the Yankees infield and the umpires paused for a moment to apply bug spray, but that didn’t help the Yankees’ reliever. He walked Grady Sizemore on four pitches before a wild pitch advanced him to second. Asdrubal Cabrera laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Sizemore to third, and Sizemore eventually scored on another wild pitch to tie the game. The Tribe would go on to win the game – thanks to the assist from some midges – on a walk-off single by Travis Hafner in the 11th inning.