You may run like Mays, but you hit like shit.

  

Th city of Cleveland just can’t catch a break these days. LeBron James leaving for Miami is nothing compared to the loss of Lou Brown, the beloved skipper of the fictional Cleveland Indians earlier this week. In 1989 Lou Brown led the Indians to the World Series despite being thrown into one of the worst no win situations any coach has ever faced. He turned a bunch of has-beens and never-will-bes into what was undoubtably the most exciting and lovable rag-tag bunch of players that make-believe Major League Baseball has ever been a witness to.  

After reluctantly leaving his managerial position at Tire World, Brown decided to accept the Indians’ offer to coach the team in the spring of ’89. Ever the optimist, Brown saw potential in this thrown together squad of criminals, drunks, pretty boys, and voodoo worshiping Cuban refugees and began using his unorthodox coaching methods to mold what would be the 1989 American League pretend pennant winners. Little did Brown know when he agreed to come on with the fake Indians that owner Rachel Phelps had purposely set the team up for immediate failure in hopes of doing so poorly that she could fire everyone after the season ended and move the team to sunny Miami. Brown would not be deterred by this attempted dupe.  

His hands-on approach to the game turned rookies and grizzled veterans alike into winners on and off the field. For example, take journeyman catcher Jake Taylor. Lost in Mexico in a sea of women and booze, Taylor grabbed his “last shot at a winner” like a bull by the horns and embraced Brown and his guidance. Despite playing on a set of the worst knees in the history of make believe sports, Taylor emerged as the team leader, after some coercing from Brown, and not only beat out a bunt in the ALCS championship game against the hated Yankees that proved to be the winning hit, but found love along the way as well. I like to think that Brown was responsible for all of this. Then we have bad-boy fireballer Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn. After almost getting sent down to the Minors with control issues, Brown discovered that all Vaughn needed was a pair of glasses. His genius was so simple. Vaughn went on to be one of the most popular made up Major Leaguers that season with fans dancing on the dugouts when his signature theme song “Wild Thing” hit the stadium’s sound system. Brown was the man who told Vaughn, “Forget about the curveball Ricky. Give him the heater”, when Wild Thing would eventually strike out his nemesis and triple crown winner Clue Haywood in the ALCS. Even after Ricky banged Dorn’s wife before the big game, he had these guys focused. What a manager! He took energetic speedster Willie Mays Hayes from a guy not even invited to camp to one of the most enigmatic base steals in the history of baseball. The man even taught Pedro Cerrano how to hit a curve ball! Maybe Jobu had a little something to with that too.  

This just goes to show you just what kind of a leader Coach Brown was. No goal was ever out of reach for this man. He made a game which had been turned more into a business fun again. His love for the game was only surpassed by his love of his fellow man. This truly is the darkest day in the history of Cleveland sports. 

prma