CLEVELAND -- There are moments in every season that become iconic.
Sometimes it’s game-saving plays like Oscar Mercado’s leaping grab in center field against the White Sox. Other times, it’s the bad or frustrating moments like Trevor Bauer heaving a ball over the center-field wall from the pitcher’s mound in
CLEVELAND -- There are moments in every season that become iconic.
Sometimes it’s game-saving plays like Oscar Mercado’s leaping grab in center field against the White Sox. Other times, it’s the bad or frustrating moments like Trevor Bauer heaving a ball over the center-field wall from the pitcher’s mound in Kansas City. But this time, we’re here to remember all the humorous times.
Whether it’s bloopers, odd encounters or funny off-the-field stories, the Indians have racked up a handful of entertaining moments over their last 100-plus years. Let’s take a look at eight of the most comical moments in franchise history:
1. The seagull walk-off
June 11, 2009
Baseball has rallied behind animals like squirrels, cats and chickens, but remember the one time the Indians got an enormous assist from a flock of seagulls?
The Tribe rallied back from a two-run deficit against Zack Greinke and the Royals in the bottom of the eighth to knot the score at 3 and force extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, Shin-Soo Choo stepped to the plate to face Kyle Farnsworth with runners on first and second and approximately 20 birds planted in the center-field grass.
Choo served a line drive into shallow center, hitting one of the seagulls as they all scattered through the air. Center fielder Coco Crisp got lost among the birds and the ball ended up rolling to the wall as Mark DeRosa scored from second with a big grin on his face. Crisp was left standing in the outfield with his arms raised in confusion and frustration above his head while the Indians celebrated their 4-3 victory on the field.
2. The midges
Oct. 5, 2007
Pitching change? Injury delay? No and no. The pause in action was to empty every bottle of bug spray in the area in an attempt to keep the Yankees' infield from getting eaten alive.
The midges were swarming from every direction and the Indians were trailing by one run heading into the eighth inning of Game 2 of the American League Division Series. Joba Chamberlain was on the mound for New York at Progressive Field and completely lost the strike zone when the small flies latched on to his arms, neck and face. A wild pitch allowed Grady Sizemore to score and tie the game at 1. Eventually, the Indians won, 2-1, on a Travis Hafner walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th.
3. Carlos Martinez hits homer thanks to Jose Canseco’s head
May 26, 1993
The Canseco mishap has been played on blooper reels routinely, but let’s not forget that the odd occurrence helped spark a 7-6 Indians victory. In front of a crowd at Cleveland Stadium, Martinez launched a fly ball to right field that would’ve easily landed in play if it weren’t for Canseco. The Rangers outfielder was racing back, tracking the ball toward the wall when it bounced off of his head and over the fence to cut the Tribe’s deficit to 1. The team went on to post a three-run frame before ultimately walking away with the win.
4. The chicken sacrifice
July 16, 2016
When you’re in a deep slump that you just can’t seem to break, what do you do? Beg to the baseball gods to turn it around. How do you do that? Sacrifice a chicken, apparently.
In a season where everything seemed to fall the Indians’ way -- until the very end -- catcher Yan Gomes wasn’t experiencing the same luck. Halfway through July, he was slashing just .163/.198/.310, so his teammates decided to buy a rotisserie chicken to sacrifice to the baseball gods in hopes that his bat would suddenly come alive. Mike Napoli read a prayer with his hand on Gomes’ head.
When he finished, Gomes sliced through the chicken with a knife to end the ceremony, but unfortunately for him the sacrifice didn’t pay off. Two days later, Gomes was placed on the injured list with a separated right shoulder and he didn’t play again until the final week of the regular season.
5. The 1949 Funeral
It wouldn’t be a complete list of outrageous moments without some sort of cameo from former owner Bill Veeck. After defeating the Boston Braves in the 1948 World Series, the Tribe did not make the World Series in ‘49, landing in third place with 89 wins. To mourn the loss of its back-to-back championship hopes, the team decided to hold a funeral to bury the world championship flag in a coffin in center field. The casket was put in a hearse, driven around the field and the players joined the procession as they headed toward the grave. At the time, it was comical way to move on from a disappointing season after experiencing such success the year prior. Little did Cleveland know it'd still be waiting to get that trophy back 70 years later.
6. Lindor takes flight after first hit
June 14, 2015
He’s always been Mr. Smile.
The nickname may not have caught on just yet, but the then-rookie retreated to first base after his first career hit with his pearly whites on full display. No, it wasn’t from the first of many hits to come, it was laughter from the tumble he took as he rounded the bag.
Cleveland was trailing by seven runs in the ninth inning to the Tigers and Francisco Lindor had entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. He hit a line drive deep down the right-field line and the 21-year-old burned around first with his eyes on extra bases, but his feet didn’t keep up. Lindor tripped and belly flopped onto the ground. As a joke, he immediately hopped up and pointed at first baseman Miguel Cabrera, saying it was the Tigers infielder who had tripped him. The Indians may have lost the game, 8-1, but it was the first glimpse of what Lindor had in store -- both as a player and with his personality.
7. Slider falls off the wall
Oct. 14, 1995
Anything that ends in injury is hard to place in the “funny” category; however, this rare instance of a mascot cheering so hard that it falls off the wall is hard not to respect. It was Game 4 of the ALCS and Carlos Baerga singled to left. As he rounded first, the cameras caught the Indians’ mascot, Slider, hobbling to the bullpen door where training staff came down to assist after having fallen off the wall. Slider ended up injuring his ACL, but the way the person inside the costume handled the moment, never removing the Slider head while getting their knee checked, was impressive to say the least. Hopefully that individual can look back on that moment and think the cheering was worth it, as the Tribe walked away with a 7-0 win over the Mariners.
8. Cody the Chicken
Sept. 4, 2013
Time for moment No. 2 involving a chicken. This time, the bird was very much alive. Three years before the Indians paid tribute to the movie Major League with their sacrificial chicken, starter Justin Masterson brought in a bird to roam the outfield during batting practice. The chicken was secured for Cody Allen, whose nickname was “Chicken Al.” The rally chicken was a success, as the Indians went on to win that night’s game against the Orioles, 6-4. A year later, Allen donned a chicken costume of his own to wear in the outfield and ran with the running joke through Players Weekend, sporting “Pollo” on the back of his jersey.
Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.