Take A Journey Through Indiana’s Rich Baseball History

Indians Invite Fans To Explore Hoosier Baseball History at the Indiana Historical Society

IHS Baseball Exhibit Logo

For many people the history of baseball in Indiana begins and ends with the Indianapolis Indians over a century-long run as the state’s premiere baseball franchise. But, did you know that even years before the Indians a rich Hoosier baseball history had already been established?

Some of this history, is currently on public display as the Indiana Historical Society hosts, “Hoosiers Win The Pennant: Indiana Roots of American Baseball” which showcases Indiana’s proud contributions to baseball that date back to the 19th Century.

Indianapolis Star Reports on Exhibit

Featuring items from the private collection of Scott Tarter, a partner with Bose, McKinney & Evans LLP, this exhibition explores Indiana’s incredible, but little-known, baseball history, including several with ties to the beginnings of the Indianapolis Indians.

Few people know, and have lived, this history better than Indians President and Chairman of the board Max Schumacher, who joined Mr. Tarter for a personal tour of the exhibit in order to give Indians fans a special sneak peak.

The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, home of the Indiana Historical Society, is located downtown at 450 W. Ohio Street. Admission is normally $7 for adults and $5 for children, but a 50 percent discount is available to Indianapolis Indians fans who mention the promotion code “BASEBALL” when purchasing their ticket. The exhibit is in place through Nov. 15.

Visit IndyIndians.com or the Indiana Historical Society website indianahistory.org for more information.

Former Tribe MVP Walker Makes Pirates History

Former Indianapolis Indians Most Valuable Player Neil Walker broke a Pittsburgh Pirates franchise record in a  7-3 thumping of the Cubs on Sunday.

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Facing right-hander Jacob Turner, Walker connected on an 0-1 fastball to deposit his 20th homer of the season into the bleachers and give the four-year Tribe veteran the most home runs in a season by a Pirates second baseman. Walker’s historic blast surpassed all-time Buccos great Bill Mazeroski, who went deep 19 times in 1958.

“I’m humbled just to be in the same breath as the people on the list,” Walker, who also tied Mazeroski’s 16-homer mark in 2013 for No. 4 overall among Pirates second baseman, said. “To get to this point is very humbling … and I’m happy that I got there.”

Photo By Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Photo By Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Walker is enjoying the breakout campaign in just his fourth full season at the major league level. The slugging middle infielder has suited up with his former Indians squad as recent as 2013 (brief rehab stint), last began a season at the Triple-A level in 2010 and was named the Tribe’s MVP in 2008 after belting a team-high 16 homers.

Overall, Walker has hit .259 (285-for-1102) with 78 doubles, 11 triples, 36 homers, 139 runs scored and 175 RBI in 293 games with the Indians from 2007-10 and 2013.

“You try not to put too much pressure on yourself and you try to simplify things,” Walker said of his approach at the plate after lifting a game-winning, two-run blast against Louisville in 2009 (April 16). “The less you think about things, the better off you are.”

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Gameplan in mind, Walker followed his two-run bomb with 12 additional Triple-A homers and 47 total extra-base hits through the 2009 campaign. The standout effort earned the Pittsburgh kid his first promotion to the big leagues as a part of the Pirates’ wave of September call-ups, and Walker made his MLB debut against the Cincinnati Reds on Sept. 1.

“I’ve waited a long time for this,” Walker said upon receiving news of his promotion in 2009. “This has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember; I’m going to play for my hometown team.”

Walker

Walker returned to the Indians in 2010 to leave a lasting impression during his final official stint at the Triple-A level. The newly-converted second baseman hit safely in 33 of 43 Indians games with a .321 average (54-for-168), 18 doubles, two triples, six homers, 25 runs scored and 26 RBI from April 8 – May 24. He knocked his final homer with the Tribe on May 14, 2010, a ninth-inning solo shot off current Minnesota righty Casey Fien.

On Sunday, after also turning a triple play for the Buccos, the new record-holder Walker said, “It was a pretty cool day.”

Last Season Look-Back

[During the offseason, The Inside Pitch will provide a month-by-month look-back at the record-setting 2014 season. Beginning with a review of April on Sept. 9, fans can relive each month as we anxiously count down to the 2015 campaign.]
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April in Review

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The back-to-back International League West Division champion Indianapolis Indians embarked upon the 2014 season seeking the franchise’s first set of three consecutive IL West crowns, and just the second three-peat titles in any division during the team’s 100-plus year history.

Sparked by a historic start and 17-8 clip in April, the Tribe flirted with the early possibility of a post-to-post run atop the IL West. However, facing an impending swarm of roster turnover, a resilient Indians squad would ultimately need each and every victory of 2014 to escape with a winning record.

While still carving a new place in the record books.

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Although the Indians were a day late on their season-opening assault in Columbus, they left the Clippers more than a dollar short once they weathered a brief delay.

On Opening Day, April 3, heavy rain pelted Huntington Park throughout the afternoon. The Tribe, try as it might to wish away the wash out, would settle for a one-day postponement and the official start of the 2014 campaign on April 4.

The Tribe came out of the gates swinging on Opening Day to unleash a three-day assault and four-game sweep of the hometown Clippers. Setting the tone for a season which featured 76 games decided by two runs or fewer, the Indians leaned on a Matt Hague double and Brent Morel game-winning single in the top of the 10th to claim its first victory on Opening Day since 2007.

“That last at-bat, going in there, extra innings, I was just fighting to get that one run,” Brent Morel said after delivering his deciding knock. “Our staff pitched so well and all we wanted to do was give them one run.”

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Following the sweep and a postponement against the Mud Hens, the Tribe downed Toledo on April 8 (Game 1 of a DH) to improve to a perfect 5-0 and set a Victory Field Era (1996) record for the longest unbeaten streak to begin a season.

The red-hot Indians would drop the back end of their double header with Toledo before reeling off four consecutive victories with one road win and a three-game sweep at Victory Field from April 10-12.

And perhaps none of those triumphs were more impressive than Chris Dickerson’s ninth-inning heroics, which treated a sellout of 14,004 Victory Field faithful to a wild, walk-off victory during the Tribe’s home opener on April 10.

“If I could use one word to describe our team, it would be ‘cohesive,’ which can lead to a lot of success,” veteran Tribe standout Chase d’Arnaud said during the year’s early goings.

Safe-at-Home

“We have some young prospects that are exciting to watch and we have some veterans that have some experience to help them out.”

The sweep gave the Indians an incredible nine wins in their first 10 contests and the best overall record in Minor League Baseball. Even more impressive, the team’s 9-1 record matched the 1959 Tribe squad for the best 10-game start in recorded team history, dating back to 1938 (1959 team finished with a record of 86-76).

Said Indians Pitching Coach Tom Filer of the historic beginning:

Celebration

 “We’ve got a very good team,” Filer said earlier this season. “I like us defensively and I like us offensively. We have some good things going on right now. I just hope we put everything – (individual and team-level) – together.”

To meet Filer’s – and the team’s in general –  aspirations, the first-place Tribe turned to five-tool farmhand and Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco. The 22-year-old took little time to adjust to his first full season at the Triple-A level, rebounding from an 0-for-3 debut to hit safely in a then IL-best 10 consecutive games from April 5-13. Polanco’s efforts helped pace the Club’s scorching start and led to his award as the International League’s Batter of the Week on April 14.

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Polanco earned the accolade by hitting safely in all seven games during the week of April 7-13. He also led the IL in total base knocks (14) while ranking second in average (.500), third in OBP (.548), tied for fifth in RBI (7), sixth in runs scored (6) and seventh in extra-base hits (4). Polanco capped the award-winning stretch having produced a pair of two-hit efforts against Toledo, a three-knock game in the Indians’ home opener and a perfect 4-for-4 outing with a mammoth, two-run homer on April 12.

With no signs of slowing down, the only element able to cool off the Tribe and its uber-prospect Polanco proved to be Mother Nature herself, who brought an early end to the opening homestand with a pair of rare postponements by snow.

The games were scheduled to be made up in just as unique circumstances as the postponement themselves, with the upcoming schedule now set to include a pair of double headers as part of a 12-games-in-10-days stretch during July.

The Indians then rounded out the first month of the season by going unbeaten in three of their four remaining series with an 8-6 clip. The final stretch featured outright wins at Louisville (2-1) and vs. Syracuse (3-1), a four-game split at Toledo (2-2) and the Tribe’s lone series loss of April vs. the Bats (1-2).

At 17-8, the Tribe turned the page on April boasting the best record in the IL and second-most wins in the league behind only Durham (18-9) –

And with arguably its toughest stretch of games right around the corner at the start of May.

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APRIL PLAYER OF THE MONTH:

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The top prospect batted .400 (38-for-95) through the month of April with hits in 19 of 24 games and multi-knock efforts in half of his 24 total appearances. Indianapolis’ five-tool farmhand also reached reached base in all but two games during the month, and concluded April ranked fifth in the minors in average, tied for fifth in hits and tied for ninth in both RBI (25) and total bases (60).

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Polanco finished the season’s opening month with league-leading totals in hits, average, total bases, RBI and OBP (.457), a share of the IL lead in runs (21) and the league’s fourth-best slugging percentage (.632).

Indians Announce 2015 Schedule: No Price Increase for Single Game, Season and Group Tickets

July 4-2014-Photo by Mark Dickhaus

The Indianapolis Indians announced its 2015 schedule today. True to its mission to provide baseball at Victory Field as affordable and memorable family fun, season, individual and group ticket prices will remain the same as 2014.

Following a season in which a franchise record 660,289 fans visited Victory Field, single-game rates will remain $16 for box seats, $12 for reserved and lawn seats for just $10. Savings opportunities also return in 2015 as an Advanced Purchase discount of $2 remains in effect for single-game tickets purchased online, in-person or by phone prior to game day.

Season tickets and admission to the popular left field area The Cove will also remain the same as last season. In addition, for only $16 kids 14 and younger can once again be part of the Indians’ Knot Hole Kids Club which offers admission to all home games and a club t-shirt.

The Indians begin the 2015 season on Thursday, April 9, at Victory Field with a nine-game home stand. In all, the Indians play 72 home games with the Tribe offering many family-friendly, affordable promotions throughout the season highlighted by a longtime summertime Indianapolis tradition – an Independence Day celebration July 4-5 which will include a postgame fireworks show after each game.

Click here for the entire 2015 Indianapolis Indians schedule.

Season tickets are now available for purchase, and suite and group reservations are being accepted; individual game tickets go on sale in March.

Email tickets@indyindians.com or call (317) 269-3545 to purchase, or visit indyindians.com for more information.

Holdzkom and the Power of Four

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You know John Holdzkom. You may think you don’t, but you do.

To an extent.

He’s another feel-good story of climbing from the Independent leagues to the majors, but his ascension happened in a mere matter of months. He has the blazing fastball featured by so many late-inning power arms, but his pitching arsenal features what he calls “The Four.” And like so many, he’s just another guy from the way who’s happy to play baseball for a living.

But he really is just playing the children’s game.

“I try to emulate how I play catch in the outfield and bring that to the mound,” Holdzkom said. “I’ve experimented with a lot of different mental outlooks on pitching…but I’ve realized for me to have the most success I’ve just got to be really calm, soak everything in and take a deep breath.

He learned the process while pitching through Indy ball, spending summers with the Amarillo Sox and Sioux City Explorers. The squads play a 100-game mini-season from May to August, before going off in their own directions after the campaign. In Holdzkom’s words – “summer camp.”

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Photo by Amarillo.com

“A couple of my friends, we like to call it like adult summer camp where you’re just leaving for the summer,” Holdzkom said. “You still want to win, you know, but you’re just having fun with your friends. Obviously there’s no big pressure coming from any sort of front office or anything like that, so it’s just a fun, laid-back atmosphere.”

And three days ago, he struck out the eighth in a pennant race against the reigning National League champ St. Louis Cardinals.

“It’s kind of a trip looking back on it and seeing all the places I’ve been and where I’ve played,” Holdzkom said just a few days before his selection by the Pirates. “ I would have never guessed, judging from where my season started, [I’d end up in this position.]”

Par for the course for the flamethrowing righty, who has made a point to avoid analyzing or predicting anything beyond the here and now.

For Holdzkom, that means both on and off the diamond. He said he’s not “tuned into the waiver wire,” even when his name may be circulating around roster rumors. Before he pitches, he’s not reliant on scouting reports of opposing batters, or metrics on rates and outcomes. Holdzkom said he “goes by feel,” both in his simple delivery and easygoing mound presence.

“(My approach) has come from trial and error really. I used to rush, jerk my body around, try to get everything in to it when I realized the smoother and calmer you are, you have better results because you’re not trying to do too much,” Holdzkom said. “(The process is) just trial and error, going out there a bunch of time and figuring out who you are.”

[John Holdzkom Player Page]

The Cardinals figured out who Holdzkom was the hard way; the Double-A/Triple-A/MLB rookie reared back to touch 98-99 MPH with his fastball, before dropping a devastating offspeed pitch which, according to Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, is currently the only kind of its nature in the major leagues. The Palmball.

Or, “The Four,” as deemed by Holdzkom.

“That was the first offspeed I had ever thrown when I was 13…I just stuck it in my palm” Holdzkom laughed. “I was a big San Diego Padres fan growing up and I thought that’s how Trevor Hoffman threw his, to be honest. I tried to copy him and it’s come a long ways and I feel confident in it.”

The grip, according to Holdzkom, is just as the name entails, with the ball resting in his palm while his thumb works as the only support on the pitch. The right-hander said he aims for the catcher’s mask and just lets the pitch come off his thumb during his release.

As for the best scenario to unleash his “sometimes like a slider, sometimes like a changeup” pitch, he follows his tried-and-true approach.

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“Usually [the catcher] has a great feel of when to call it. I think I shook them off once all year,” Holdzkom said. “When he puts the four (fingers) down, I’m like ‘Yeah, it’s time for it.’”

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(Tribe photos by Mark Dickhaus/Indianapolis Indians)

Indianapolis Indians Jersey Auction: Own A Piece Of The 2014 Season!

Jersey Auction Blog

The season may be over, but you can still own a piece of the action, as the Indianapolis Indians are auctioning off their game-worn red alternate jerseys as well as special select white jerseys from the 2014 season.

Bidding is now open at the Indians’ online Hot Corner Gift Shop.  Each jersey will be auctioned off separately, and each auction will end at its own specified time beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 15.

Place your bids now!

Just some of nearly 50 jerseys available via auction include:

  • An autographed, game-worn, #25 red alternate jersey of 2014 Tribe MVP and Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco.
  • An autographed, game-worn, #32 red alternate jersey of top pitching prospect Nick Kingham.
  • A game-worn, #47 white jersey of 2013 NL Comeback Player of the Year and All-Star starting pitcher, Francisco Liriano.
  • An autographed, game-worn, #26 red alternate jersey of former top draft pick and fan favorite catcher Tony Sanchez.
  • The game-worn #6 red and white jerseys of two-time Indianapolis Indians MVP Matt Hague.
  • Autographed, game-worn, red alternate jerseys of current Pittsburgh Pirates Chase d’Arnaud, Andrew Lambo, Casey Sadler and John Holdzkom.
  • And many more!

For a complete list of all the jerseys available, including a direct link to each individual jersey’s bidding page, see the list below.

 

COMPLETE LIST OF JERSEYS UP FOR BID

Number Color Player
2 Red Robert Andino (Autographed)
3 Red Mel Rojas Jr. (Autographed)
5 Red Brent Morel
5 White Brent Morel
6 Red Matt Hague
6 White Matt Hague
7 Red Michael Martinez (Autographed)
10 Red Blake Davis (Autographed)
10 White Blake Davis (Autographed)
12 Red Clint Barmes
12 White Clint Barmes
13 Red Mike Pagliarulo (Autographed)
14 Red Jaff Decker (Autographed)
15 Red Chase d’Arnaud (Autographed)
16 Red Tyler Waldron (Autographed)
17 Red Adam Wilk (Autographed)
18 Red A. J. Morris (Autographed)
19 Red Chris McGuiness (Autographed)
22 Red Greg Grall
22 White Greg Grall
23 Red Rudy Pena (Autographed)
25 Red Gregory Polanco (Autographed)
26 Red Tony Sanchez (Autographed)
28 Red Omir Santos (Autographed)
29 Red Nevin Ashley (Autographed)
30 Red Josh Wall (Autographed)
31 Red Jose Tabata
31 White Jose Tabata
32 Red Nick Kingham (Autographed)
34 Red Bobby LaFromboise (Autographed)
35 Red Wirfin Obispo (Autographed)
36 Red Ernesto Frieri (Autographed)
37 Red Vin Mazzaro (Autographed)
38 Red Andrew Lambo (Autographed)
39 Red Andy Oliver (Autographed)
41 White Matt Curry
43 Red Adrian Sampson (Autographed)
44 Red Josh Kinney (Autographed)
45 Red Casey Sadler (Autographed)
46 Red Tom Filer (Autographed)
47 White Francisco Liriano
48 Red Rafael Perez (Autographed)
49 Red Jake Brigham
50 Red Elias Diaz (Autographed)
52 Red John Holdzkom (Autographed)
41 Red Customizable Jersey
47 Red Customizable Jersey


Recap (9/1): Indians 3, Bats 4

Official Box Score
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Recap (8/31): Indians 5, Bats 3

 Official Box Score

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Recap (8/30): Indians 4, Clippers 2

Official Box Score

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Indians Annual Player Awards

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Indians five-tool standout Gregory Polanco has been named the Tribe’s Most Valuable Player for the 2014 season. The 22-year-old outfielder received a custom-made ring, courtesy of Windsor Jewelry, in tonight’s pregame ceremony at Victory Field in honor of his achievement.

In addition, the Indians presented their annual awards for outstanding, season-long accomplishments, with this year’s recognition including Jaff Decker as the Best Defensive Outfielder, Brent Morel, Best Defensive Infielder, southpaw Andy Oliver, Henry Smock Relief Pitcher of the Year and right-hander Casey Sadler, Starting Pitcher of the Year.

Morel also capped the ceremony with his honoring as the Indians August Player of the Month, an award which featured a custom-made watch, courtesy of Windsor Jewelry.

Most Valuable Player

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The Triple-A rookie Polanco embodied the award as the team’s Most Valuable Player, leading the Tribe to 41 of its 70 total victories and a 41-28 overall record while on the active roster. The phenom took home honors as the Tribe’s Player of the Month in April and later became the first player in team history to win two International League Batter of the Week titles in one season (April 14, May 19).

Prior to making his making his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Polanco hit safely in 45 of his 62 Triple-A games with 26 multi-knock efforts and the IL’s second-best batting average of .347. He also led the league in hits (86), extra-base hits (29), triples (5), total bases (134), runs (47) and RBI (49), and concluded his dominating stint having reaching base safely in all but 12 appearances.

Best Defensive Outfielder

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Decker, awarded for his distinguished play in left and center field, appeared in 25 more contests and 173 more innings than any of his fellow Indians outfielders this season. The newcomer of the Pirates organization recorded a stellar .989 fielding percentage with just two errors in 178 total chances during his 97 games (778.0 innings) in the outfield.

The 24-year-old also matched his glovework with an equally impressive outfield arm, cutting down a team-high 15 runners on the basepaths. Decker unleashed laser throws with pinpoint accuracy to nail five opponents at second base, four at third and a team-best six runners attempting to score.

Best Defensive Infielder

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Morel, awarded for his distinguished infield play as the team’s primary third baseman, routinely made highlight-reel plays at the hot corner while recording a .958 fielding percentage with 12 double plays. The versatile infielder opened the campaign with only one error in his first 42 games, and committed just nine total miscues in 212 total chances prior to his recall. Morel has continued his slick fielding at the major league level as well, where he played 42 1/3 innings of errorless ball at third base for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Entering the Tribe’s home finale, Morel ranks among the top 10 IL third basemen in each defensive category, including sixth in assists (157), seventh in total chances, tied for seventh in double plays and ninth in putouts (46).

Henry Smock Relief Pitcher of the Year

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Oliver, the Henry Smock Relief Pitcher of the Year, leads the Indians and ranks ninth in the IL with 13 saves in 15 opportunities during his first season used exclusively in relief. The southpaw has been nearly unhittable throughout the campaign, and along with striking out 85 batters in 64 innings of work, ranks first among league relievers with a .158 batting average against and tied for second with an 11.95 strikeouts-per-nine ratio.

Overall, Oliver has gone 3-3 with 13 saves and a 2.39 ERA in 47 games. The newly-converted reliever has whiffed one or more batters in 38 of his 47 outings, recorded multiple strikeouts in 25 appearances and held opponents to one or fewer hits in all but seven of his 47 games. Oliver was rewarded for his standout efforts during the 2014 campaign with his first All-Star selection of his professional career.

Starting Pitcher of the Year

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Sadler, the Tribe’s Starting Pitcher of the Year, went 11-4 with the fourth-lowest ERA in the league at 3.03 through his 21st and final start of the season. The righty hurler authored 14 quality starts and currently ranks among IL pitching leaders in WHIP (2nd, 1.19), fewest baserunners-per-nine (2nd, 10.97), lowest walks-per-nine (3rd, 1.66) and wins (T-4th).

The Indians’ staff ace took a no-decision in his 2014 debut before winning eight of nine decisions over his next 10 starts. He won a career-high five consecutive decisions during that span, and became the only pitcher in the league to earn his seventh victory in fewer than 10 appearances by June 16. Sadler has since followed the standout effort with both an IL All-Star selection and his major league debut with the Pirates on May 2.

August Player of the Month

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In addition to the Tribe standouts receiving awards for their season-long excellence, Morel, who owns the IL’s fourth-best batting average in August, was also honored as the Tribe’s Player of the Month.

Morel batted .355 (27-for-76) with hits in 16 of 19 contests, nine multi-knock efforts and an 11-game hit streak through action of Aug. 29. Prior to his recall to Pittsburgh today, the red-hot infielder totaled five doubles, a triple, one homer, 11 runs scored and 16 RBI over 19 games during the final full month of the regular season.

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