May 30, 2007

This column is about a game the Indians lost. It’s also about a very good day for the Cleveland farm system. Confused yet?

Those who know the minor leagues well know where this is going. If you don’t, here’s the short version:

The Buffalo Bisons (then the Tribe’s Triple-A farm team) defeated the Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh Pirates) 11-6.

The story of how another team’s affiliate has the Indians name is a fascinating one. The short version is that Indy had the name first (since 1902 – 18 years before the Cleveland American League side had the name). The Cleveland Indians owned the Indianapolis cersion of the Tribe from 1952-1955. The team was then purchased by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce after they nearly moved (the Big Club was losing significant money in the Hoosier state) and became the top affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.

Back to 2007. On thi day, the Bisons dominated the Indy Indians at Victory Field in a weekday afternoon (2:05) tilt. The Buffalo box score was filled with notable names and big performances, including:

RF Franklin Gutierrez – 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K
SS Luis Rivas – 3-5, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
DH Shin-Soo Choo – 3-5, 2 R, 2 RBI
CF Ben Francisco – 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI
3B Andy Marte – 2-5, 2 R, 1 2 B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K
RP Ed Mujica – 1 IP, perfect, 2 K (9th inning)

The Indianapolis lineup contained a future Cleveland Indian (CF Rajai Davis) and a former one (3B Jose Hernandez, a 1992 and early 1993 Canton-Akron Indian ho played three games for the big league side in ’92).

Fun Fact: The Indians farm teams in the 50s all wore a cap with the “I” from the 1951-57 script “Indians” (so that teams weren’t wearing a wishbone “C” cap in a city that didn’t start with C). The Indianapolis Indians kept wearing a slightly reworked version of the “I” on their cap for many years. If you’re interested in buying a throwback Indians farm system cap, the Indy Indians team shop sells them (you’ll want the navy blue one with the red “I”).

BOX SCORE

Indianapolis Indians on Wikipedia (including more details on their time as an Indians farm team)

Photo: MiLB/Buffalo Bison

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