One of only four teams in the American League to call the same city home for the entirety of their existence, the Cleveland Indians may be short on championships, but they make up for it with an immense pride in the players who suited up for them. In case there's any doubt over that sentiment, consider that from 1903 to 1914, the franchise was known as the Naps -- a tribute to their Hall of Fame player/manager Nap Lajoie. When Lajoie left, the team changed their nickname to the Indians, which came from an old National League club that had played in Cleveland years before.
Shortly after Lajoie retired, the Indians acquired Hall of Fame outfielder Tris Speaker. Much like the player he was expected to replace, Speaker was dazzling both on the field and at the plate, and in 1919 was named player/manager of the team. Presumably to avoid problems down the road, the Cleveland franchise did not become the "Trises," despite Speaker's excellent play.
The Indians claimed their first world title in 1920 with Speaker at the helm, but would have to wait until 1948 before hoisting another championship banner. Featuring a roster that led the American League in batting average, earned run average, and fielding percentage, the Indians were the complete package in 1948, besting the Boston Braves in six games to win the World Series. Larry Doby, who had broken the American League's color barrier the year before, homered in a tight Game 4 to give the Tribe the momentum they needed to capture the crown.
In 1975, the Indians would make Major League Baseball history again when they named Frank Robinson as manager of the team, making him the first African American to hold such a title. In his first game as skipper, Robinson homered during his first plate appearance -- the first ever player/manager to do so. While Robinson's teams were always competitive, the Tribe was still unable to end a growing postseason drought.
As Cleveland's playoff woes continued, even Hollywood got in on the action. A fictional 1989 film,Major League, told the tale of a hapless Indians team that somehow beats the odds stacked against them to capture the pennant. Just six years later, fantasy became reality. Thanks to a lineup that featured savvy veterans like Eddie Murray and promising youngsters such as Kenny Lofton, the Tribe won 100 games in 1995 while on their way to making their first playoff appearance in 41 years.
The 1995 season also marked the start of an unprecedented streak of 455 consecutive sellouts at Jacobs Field. The team, for their part, won the American League Central six times during this span. Streaks come and go, but there's a renewed sense of optimism in Cleveland. "The Jake" was renamed Progressive Field in 2007 with hopes of ushering in a new era of Indians baseball -- bedecked with many, many championship trophies.