All-Time Indians: Mike Hargrove

Name: Dudley Michael Hargrove Position: Manager/First Base
Nick Name: The Human Rain Delay Number: 21
Tribe Time: 1991-1999/1979-1985 DOB: 10/26/1949
As Manager W L W% PS W PS L PS W%
Best Season (1995) 100 44 .694 9 6 .600
Career 721 591 .550 27 25 .519
As Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS SB% OBP SLG AVG OPS ISOP
Career 888 2945 388 860 139 14 33 383 1126 505 257 14 19 42% .396 .382 .292 .778 .090

While Kevin Youkilis may be called the “Greek God of Walks”, Mike Hargrove came first as the “Human Rain Delay”. Hargrove was an incredibly patient hitter, to the point of distraction. His nickname stemmed from the fact that he would go through an entire routine between pitches, stepping out of the box and adjusting his equipment. The distraction to the pitcher along with his tremendous eye lead to him being ranked 8th all time in on base percentage despite having a career batting average under .300 (only Jim Thome had a higher OBP with a lower AVG). Hargrove won the Rookie of the Year award with Texas in 1974 and played for San Diego as well before coming to Cleveland in a deadline deal for outfielder Paul Dade. Of course, he would be only a borderline consideration as an All-Time Indian if he had just been a player.

In 1991 Grover took over an incredibly terrible Indians team from John McNamara after he went 25-52 through the first 77 games. The team Hargrove inherited included a lot of young players, like 1990 Rookie of the Year Sandy Alomar, rookie third baseman Jim Thome, second year starter Charles Nagy and new closer Steve Olin. With this group of youngsters and a few veterans (including Brook Jacoby and Albert Belle) Hargrove won his first game against Milwaukee and finished the year 32-53 pushing the team to the next level, just slightly above embarrassing.

General Manager John Hart then spent the next three seasons bringing in the finishing pieces to what was shaping up to be a great team. Trades for Kenny Lofton and Omar Vizquel made the Indians incredibly strong up the middle and a couple free agent signings brought in the veteran leadership of Eddie Murray and Dennis Martinez to polish things off. By 1994 the Indians were ready to compete for the playoffs for the first time since the 1950′s. The players strike in 1994 ended that dream, but the Tribe picked things right back up in 1995.

1995 was possibly the best single season for a Cleveland Indians team with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers at almost every position and Hargrove at the helm. The Indians lost the World Series against Atlanta after winning their first ever Central Division Championship, but would return again in 1997 for a second chance.

Under Hargrove, the Indians won five consecutive Central Division titles (1995-1999), before being dismissed after the 1999 season. The majority of the offense stayed consistent during those seasons with just Belle and Baerga leaving as far as the All-Stars go. This lead to the team being the most productive offensive juggernaut in Indians history and the best in Major League Baseball over that span. Although he never won a World Series, Hargrove was still the longest tenured Indians manager ever (tied with Lou Boudreau) and has to be considered one of the best Indians managers in history. His .550 winning percent is the best in Indians history and his 52 post season games managed and 27 play off wins are both team records.

For all his time and results with the team, Hargrove has been inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame (class of 2008). After retiring as a manager (he managed the Orioles and Mariners after leaving Cleveland) Mike returned to Cleveland as a special adviser to the team in 2011. Hargrove is still on staff and helps out the coaching staff in addition to his work in the front office.

Mike Hargrove

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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