History of the Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians have won several American League Central division titles in the last decade, but it has been over 60 years since the team won a World Series. Although the team has been a member of the American League since 1901, the Indians have won only 2 World Series (1920, 1948) and 5 American League pennants (1920, 1948, 1954, 1995, 1997).

The Cleveland Indians started as the Forest City team in 1870, but they moved from one league to the next until 1901, when they settled as the Cleveland Bluebirds in the newly formed American League. Two years later, the team became the Cleveland Naps. A final name change occurred in 1915 and the Cleveland Naps became the Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland team started with a losing team and it took many years for the team to develop. The Indians made a turn around in 1919 when center fielder Tris Speaker became player-manager. Under his leadership, the Indians won their first pennant and their first World Series in 1920.

After the 1920 championship win, the Indians slid back to the bottom of the American League. In the next decade, they fared slightly better, often finishing in third or fourth place in the league. New young players, including future Hall of Famer Bob Feller, helped move the Indians to second place in 1940. The success was short-lived and the Indians were back in fourth place the next year.

Change came again for the Indians in 1946 when they were purchased by a group led by Bill Veeck who, in 1948, signed Negro League star pitcher Satchel Paige. With Paige's pitching and some strong hitters, the Indians won the American League pennant and their second and last World Series in 1948.

In 1949, the Indians ended the season in third place. Veeck sold the team and this started a series of ownership changes for the Cleveland team. In spite of the turmoil in management, the Indians played well in the 1950s but they were unable to usurp the dominance of the New York Yankees. The only exception was in 1954 when Cleveland ended the season winning 111 games to win the American League pennant. They lost the World Series that year to the New York Giants.

The 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were down times for the Indians. They were also decades of bad trades for the team, with players like Tommy John, Tommy Agee, Lou Piniella, and Dennis Eckersley, being traded away. The one stellar acquisition the Indians made during this time was pitcher Gaylord Perry.

The Cleveland Indians finally began to improve by the mid-1990s. They were within one game of the American League Central division leaders, the Chicago White Sox, when the season was ended by a baseball strike. But the following year, 1995, brought a string of winning seasons in which the Cleveland Indians won five consecutive American League Central division titles (1995-1999) and two American League pennants (1995, 1997). They also won the Central division title in 2001.

The Indians were unable to lead their division in the early years of the new century, even though they had strong players like Grady Sizemore. However, they improved significantly by 2007, and they ended the season as the American League Central division leader with a 96-66 record. They lost the American League division series to the Boston Red Sox.

Source for Information
Wikipedia - Cleveland Indians