My mother loves the Cleveland Indians.
She's not a fair-weather fan who just started paying attention when Jacobs Field was built. She has been there through all the bad years, and told the rest of us about it.
How big of a fan is my mom?
When she was growing up in suburban Cleveland in the 1950s, she had two turtles. One was named Rocky (for star outfielder Rocky Colavito) and the other Tito (for outfielder Tito Francona).
She was there for Frank Robinson's first game as Indians' manager, seeing a piece of baseball history when Robinson, then a player-manager, homered in his first at-bat.
One time in the late 1980s, she and I were looking at baseball cards. She directed my eyes past Bo Jackson and Wade Boggs' cards, suggesting I buy a card of a young Indian who she said was "going to be somebody."
The player was Beau Allred. Career stats: Three seasons, four homers, .230 batting average.
When it comes to sports in general, I got my interest from my father. I got my passion for sports from my mom.
It had been said that the former Indians' pitcher-turned-announcer Herb Score had seen more bad baseball than anyone. But my mom has seen plenty of it. My father had the benefit of growing up as a Reds fan. His favorite players were sluggers like Ted Kluszewski, Gus Bell, and later Big Red Machine stars like Tony Perez and Johnny Bench.
My mom had to deal with such luminaries as Charlie Spikes, Jack Heidemann and Frank Duffy.
Then I was born, and she would take me to Cleveland Stadium to watch bad teams in a three-quarters empty football stadium masquerading as a baseball park. The Tribe lost more than it won, but the games we went to always seemed important. Sure, they never mattered in the standings, but if the Indians won, you almost felt like they knew you were coming and they did it for you.
But most of the time, my mom's favorite team wasn't very good.
But she stuck with the Indians, and was rewarded with the mid-to-late 1990s. At the time it seemed like our family spent as much time at Jacobs Field as the groundskeepers. My mother once talked me out of performing in a choir concert in high school so I could go to an Indians game as a birthday present to her. She didn't have to talk too much to convince me.
Of course, those years passed. And as the years went by, without a championship, I became more and more cynical.
My mom and I still talk almost every day. She now doubles and my baseball therapist.
"I just can't see why the Indians love Casey Blake," I used to yell into the phone. "He's worthless with runners in scoring position."
"I know, Zach," she said.
"What are they thinking trading for Ubaldo Jimenez?" I practically cried to her last July. "The Indians can't hit the ball out of the infield and his ERA is over four. How stupid is that?"
"Very stupid, Zach," she said.
Usually, I talk, she listens. When I allow her to get a word in, she's usually more positive than me. She loves Asdrubal Cabrera; I think he's an underwhelming defender. She likes Michael Brantley; I call him a 4-A player.
She watches and listens to the Indians, believing they'll win. I listen to the Indians to complain and wait for the collapse.
The Indians are lucky to have her as a fan. And after 32 years, I can honestly say I'm the luckiest guy on earth to have her as my mother. Not just for her being the Indians biggest fan, but for everything she's done for me.
I hope she has a great Mother's day.
If the Tribe beats the Red Sox in Fenway today, I know she will.
Zach Baker is the A-T Sports Editor.
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