All-Time Indians: Rocky Colavito

Name: Rocco Dominico Colavito Position: Right Field            
Nick Name: Rocky         Number: 38              
Tribe Time: 1955-1959, 1965-1967 DOB: 08/10/1933          
Accolades: 3 Time All-Star (1959,1965-1966), Top 5 MVP (1958-1959, 1965)              
Stats G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS SB% OBP SLG AVG OPS ISOP
Best Season (1958) 143 489 80 148 26 3 41 113 303 84 89 0 2 0% .405 .620 .303 1.025 .317
Career 913 3185 464 851 136 9 190 574 1575 468 478 9 16 36% .361 .495 .267 .856 .227

Rocky Colavito is the most storied player in Indians history. In fact, one of the best books about Cleveland Indians history has his name in the title, "The Curse of Rocky Colavito," by Terry Pluto. Statistically, he holds the Major League record for most home runs in a single game with four and is in the top ten in career home runs for the team, but he means so much more for this franchise.

I would recommend reading the book, but in a nutshell, Rocky Colavito came up as a strong rookie in 1956, coming in second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Luis Aparicio. From 1956 to 1959 Colavito was the best hitter on the team, culminating in a what was, at the time, the third and fourth best total home runs hit in a single season. Then Frank Lane took over as Indians' general manager 1958 with one goal in mind, to get his name in the newspaper. Lane didn't like that the team he inherited wasn't him and went on to trade almost every player on the team. By 1961, not a single player was left on the roster that was on the team before 1958. How Rocky Colavito fits into this whole thing is that he was traded in 1960 for the previous season's batting champion, Harvey Kuenn. Kuenn stayed with the Indians for one whole season with a line of .348/.379/.416. The same year for Detroit, Rocky Colavito hit 35 home runs and knocked in 87. During his time with Detroit, Colavito hit 139 home runs that should have been hit for the Tribe.

In 1965, under new management, the Indians brought back the Rock in another bad trade. This time the Indians sent catcher Johnny Romano and pitcher Tommy John in a three team trade to Chicago. Tommy John went on to win 288 games and have the first elbow ligament replacement surgery, which is now named after him. Colavito played well over his first two seasons after the trade, playing every game in 1965 and hitting 30 home runs in 1966. In 1967 the Indians made one final pointless trade sending an aging Colavito to the White Sox for a player who went 3 for 21 during his Indians career.

The Rocky Colavito story is one of disloyalty, greed and obsession. It should be a warning to future teams of what not to do, but that lesson is rarely heeded. Colavito is a member of the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame (class of 2006). 

Rocky Colavito

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.

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