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The Best They Could Be

Since the founding of professional baseball, few teams have risen above years of mediocrity only to see their fortunes interrupted by war and tragedy. In the early twentieth century, one team rallied to claim first place and then won a world's championship in a most spectacular style that has yet to be replicated. Who were these men who managed to bring home the first world championship to a city of passionate baseball fans? The Best They Could Be recaps the compelling story of the ballplayers and the team owner who resurrected a proud but struggling franchise. Although the Cleveland ball club was an active member of professional baseball from the late 1860s and a charter member of the American League, by 1915 the team was on the brink of collapse. Into this dejected atmosphere came new owner James C. Dunn, who, without previous baseball experience, had the business savvy to bring his club to the forefront, acquiring superstar center fielder Tris Speaker and great pitchers. But during the rise of the franchise, the outbreak of World War I interrupted baseball. Then, in 1920, as the Indians were front and center in the pennant race, shortstop Ray Chapman died after a pitch struck him on the right temple and fractured his skull. The outpouring of sorrow from teammates and fans alike made the Indians more determined than ever to fight their way to the top. Scott Longert's entertaining and poignant narrative traces the rise, fall, and rebirth of one of America's most beloved baseball teams.
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About the Author

SCOTT LONGERT is the author of Addie Joss: King of the Pitchers (Society for American Baseball Research, 1998) and has written numerous articles on baseball history for the Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine, TimeLine, The Baseball Research Journal, and The National Pastime. He lives in Beachwood, Ohio.


-Scott Longert blends a strong sense of history, solid research, and fine writing. This isn't just for Cleveland Indians fans; it's for anyone who wants to experience baseball during the era of the First World War, when players climbed out of the coal mines, onto the diamonds, and into fans' hearts.---Marc Bona, Cleveland Plain Dealer editor--Marc Bona

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