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75 Years and Counting Part XXV: The Story of the 1973 Cleveland Indians


Sports Contributor Archive 2019 Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Hey! Would ya look at that! A third of the way there!

1973 marked the first year of Phil Seghi’s tenure as the General Manager in Cleveland. In many ways Seghi represented an upgrade over Gabe Paul, but that isn’t a particularly reassuring statement. Given that we’re sitting here 50 years later talking about how we still haven’t won a world series, it’s safe to say that his time at the helm still wasn’t great.

Seghi hit the ground running, trading away everything that wasn’t bolted down in an attempt to rebuild the organization.

Oh, I’m sorry, did I say rebuild the organization? I meant trade away anyone who was starting to get expensive. Graig Nettles would be dealt to the Yankees for spare parts, Chris Chambliss would follow him in 1974. Eddy Leon, Del Unser, Alex Johnson, Ray Fosse, and Jack Heidermann would also be traded. George Hendrick and Oscar Gamble were both acquired in those trades and instantly became fixtures in the Cleveland lineup. It’s clear they were embracing a youth movement. Dave Duncan was the oldest starter at 27, they had 7 regulars who were 24 or younger. And you know what? It kind of almost worked if you squint real hard! They scored 680 runs, while that’s an unspectacular mark, it’s also 200 more runs than they scored the previous year! That’s over a run a game! I’ll take that in 2024.

The ‘72 team had been one of the greatest pitching teams in franchise history only surrendering 519 runs. For comparison on how good they were, had the ‘73 offense played with the ‘72 pitching staff, Pythagoras seems to think they’d have finished around 102-60. Unfortunately, the ‘73 team was one of the worst pitching teams in franchise history, giving up an ungodly 826 runs, the 8th worst total in franchise history post WWII.

So they could hit some, but apparently their pitching staff decided that giving up an extra 2 runs a game compared to the year before was a good idea and they stumbled to a 71-91 record, last in the AL East. Not much else to talk about, they were pretty bad. Gaylord Perry could pitch, but that was about it.

In the 1973 amateur draft Cleveland selected Glenn Tufts, a high school infielder from Massachusetts with the 5th pick in the draft. Tufts never saw the big leagues. He got off to a rough start to his minor league career hitting only .194 in 51 games. A car accident kept him out for the entire ‘74 season, he was out of professional baseball by ‘77. He did go on to manage the Bellingham Giants of the Northwest League to a loss in the league finals though! He’s currently a scout with San Francisco.

Join us tomorrow as we break down the 1974 season.