November 18, 2015 – Less than 24 hours after announcing an exhibition game will be played April 2, 2016 at Victory Field between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds, the Indianapolis Indians have announced the game is sold out. This marks the quickest an event has sold out since the ballpark opened in 1996.
November 17, 2015 – The Indianapolis Indians today announced that on Saturday, April 2, 2016 Victory Field will host a Major League Baseball exhibition game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds. First pitch will be at 1:35 p.m. Ticket prices are $32 for Box, $24 for Reserved and $20 in the Lawn and are on sale now through the Indians website IndyIndians.com.
“This game will be among the premier professional baseball attractions ever held in Central Indiana,” said Indians Vice President of Baseball and Administrative Affairs Cal Burleson. “What an exciting way to begin our 20th season of professional baseball at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis.”
“The Pirates are thrilled to play in front of the outstanding fans of the Indianapolis Indians in Victory Field, one of the very best ballparks in Minor League Baseball,” said Frank Coonelly, Pittsburgh Pirates president. “The Indians are a first-class organization with an outstanding ownership group and front office staff and great fans who consistently fill Victory Field for Indians games. Being able to play our Division rival Cincinnati Reds in Indianapolis is the perfect way to celebrate the extension of our long-standing affiliation with the Indians organization, its fans and the entire Indianapolis community.
“We’re looking forward to returning to Victory Field this spring,” said Reds President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty. “Our relationship with the team in Indianapolis as an affiliate dates back 75 years. Our fan base remains strong in that part of the state.”
Last season Pittsburgh had the second-best record in the majors at 98-64 and qualified for the postseason for the third straight year, while Cincinnati finished 64-98.
The Tribe has been the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate since 2005 and on October 27 the organizations announced a four-year player development contract extension through the 2020 season. Pittsburgh will be the home team for the Apr. 2 game.
A sampling of current Pirates that played in Indianapolis include outfielder and 2013 National League Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen, 2015 Gold Glove and Wilson Defensive Player of the Year winner Starling Marte (OF), Pedro Alvarez (IF), Gerrit Cole (P), Josh Harrison (IF), Jared Hughes (P), Jeff Locke (P), Jordy Mercer (IF), Gregory Polanco (OF), and Neil Walker (IF). Even Pittsburgh Manager Clint Hurdle played for the Tribe (1982).
Fans should contact the Victory Field Box Office at Tickets@IndyIndians.com or (317) 269-3545 for group ticket and suite rental information. Off-season box office hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Indianapolis Indians’ affiliations with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds through the years:
- Pittsburgh – 1949-51, and 2005-Present
- Cincinnati – 1939-41, 1961, 1968-83, and 1993-99
November 16, 2015 — Since joining the team in 1974 there have been 22 Tribe managers but only one Howard Kellman.
As an employee for 40 years, Kellman is unquestionably the Iron Man of the Indianapolis Indians. As our broadcaster on Fox Sports 97.5 and AM 1260, Howard has called more than 5,700 games, watched more than a million pitches, and seen more than 300,000 outs recorded during Indians broadcasts.
Already a member of the Indiana Sportscasters and Sport Writers Hall of Fame (Class of 2009) and it’s 2002 Sportscaster of the Year, Kellman was inducted into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame on November 14, 2015.
A graduate of Brooklyn College, Kellman began professional sports broadcasting for St. John’s University basketball. Indians President and Chairman of the Board Max Schumacher, who has been with the organization since the mid-1950s and was general manager in the 1970’s remembers Kellman’s audition tape.
“Myself and the search committee for the broadcast position really liked his voice,” Schumacher said. “Howard was young, too, and I remember thinking we could mold him into the Indians’ corporate culture.”
Some might say today that culture steep in tradition and Kellman are now synonymous.
“Howard gives such great description of the game,” says Cal Burleson, Indians vice president of baseball and administrative affairs, and who has been with the team one year longer than Kellman. “His knowledge of the game and its history, and his ability to bring stories to life during a broadcast really adds a lot to an Indians game.”
“I know I will never be able to stump Howard on anything baseball related,” said Kellman’s broadcast partner Andrew Kappas after their first season together in 2015. “He’s truly seen so many incredible things in this great game, and his memory of it is simply astounding. In 153 games, I learned something about baseball and its past in each one.”
Kellman’s most replayed and well-known broadcast moment came during Game 7 of the Indians’ 1986 championship season. It is included in the video tribute above. (Thanks to Indiana Pioneer Broadcasters and DreamVision Media Partners.)
Kellman is equally known for his sincere and friendly demeanor.
“Howard has earned the respect of baseball personnel across all levels of the game among his peers and throughout the clubhouse — home and visitor,” said Burleson. “He’s a household name in our business not only as a great broadcaster but also an even better person. He’s a good man and an even better one since marrying (wife) Robin.”
“My first year at the Triple-A level was 2013 and I did not know much about the other broadcasters in the International League, but I did know about Howard,” said Kappas. “I was blown away by how kind he was to someone like me, and how he kept in touch with me in the months that followed after the season leading up to my first day with the Tribe.”
In addition to in-game broadcasts, Kellman does pregame interviews broadcast in-park at Victory Field. He also has lead dozens of interviews with former Major League Baseball greats when they visit Indianapolis as part of the Tribe’s Signature Saturday series. Those interviews can be viewed on the Indianapolis Indians YouTube channel.
Kellman has also been part of three Triple-A All-Star Game broadcast teams, and led ESPN’s coverage of the Triple-A World Series from 2006-2008.
Along with covering the Tribe, Kellman has worked behind the microphone for the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, Cleveland Cavaliers, called IHSAA football and basketball games, and as a sideline reporter for Yale University football on the YES Television Network.
Kellman manages a professional speaking service which features life lessons drawn from sports-related stories, and published a book “61 Humorous & Inspiring Lessons I Learned From Baseball” in 2010.
November 11, 2015 — Remembrance Day, better known as Veterans Day, is observed each year on or around November 11. Recognizing and honoring United States military servicemen and women in 2015 — especially those from Indiana — occurred on much more than a single day at Victory Field.
- April 14, 20, May 7 & 20 — U.S. Army Recruiting was on hand with a fun, interactive physical activity area in PNC Plaza to interact with thousands of school-age children during Baseball In Education days. (Photo gallery.)
- May 16 — On Armed Forces Day fans were treated to several unique experiences including Tribe players donning camouflage jerseys, a post game fireworks show, and the opportunity to support advance education opportunities for Indiana National Guard members. Proceeds from a post-game jersey auction helped fund WGU Indiana scholarships for Indiana National Guard members.
- June 12 — The Indians celebrated the 240th birthday of the U.S. Army with a “Salute to Service” Friday Fireworks show.
- July 4 — An Indianapolis tradition, the Indians sported Stars & Stripes jerseys for this Independence Day game and another auction fundraiser. Proceeds benefited the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund – a charity dedicated to providing financial grants to Indiana soldiers and their families who are facing financial hardships while separated due to a soldier’s mobilization.
- July 25 – On this beautiful Saturday, the Indiana Air National Guard was recognized during a pregame ceremony.
- Aug. 11 — On what was the season’s most spectacular pregame presentation, the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs parachuted into Victory Field with the game ball that they promptly presented to Rear Admiral Kevin Hayes the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command Deputy Commander who then delivered the ceremonial first pitch.
- Sept. 4 — Military Appreciation Night at Victory Field was highlighted by check presentations to Indiana National Guard by Indians senior leadership for the funds raised from the camouflage and stars and stripes jersey auctions earlier in the season.
The Indiana National Guard had several other occasions to be part of special events at Victory Field in 2015, including the Indiana University vs. University of Notre Dame baseball game on April 21, the Victory Field Classic high school baseball games on May 8, throughout the Indians thrilling postseason run to 2015 Governors’ Cup Finals in September, and the inaugural year of the Victory Field Gridiron Classic high school football games on Oct. 2 and 16.
The Tribe’s Indians Tickets For Troops program allowed more than 10,000 service men and women to attend Indians games in 2015. Since 2012 more than nearly 32,000 U.S. Military personnel have been admitted to Indians games for free thanks to this program.
Outside the ballpark in 2015, Indians mascot Rowdie appeared at the Division Armory for its TAG Holiday Wellness Party.
Veterans Day is important because it is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice. The armistice ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. The day is to thank Veterans for their service.
At 11:00 a.m., a period of silence lasting two minutes may be held. This is because it was on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the armistice came into effect. Originally, the day was known as Armistice Day.
DID YOU KNOW: In the United States, Veterans Day is usually observed on November 11. However, if it occurs on a Sunday then the following Monday is designated for holiday leave, and if it occurs on a Saturday then either Saturday or Friday may be so designated.
New Agreement Will Run Through the 2020 Season
October 27, 2015 – The Indianapolis Indians today announced a four-year player development contract extension with the Pittsburgh Pirates that will run through the 2020 season. The announcement was made by Pirates Executive Vice President, General Manager Neal Huntington, Pirates Director of Player Development, Larry Broadway, and Indians Vice President of Baseball and Administrative Affairs, Cal Burleson.
“The Pirates have one of the best player development programs in professional baseball and we appreciate the relationship between our two organizations,” said Burleson. “In addition to providing us with talented players and leadership, Pittsburgh has established a very positive culture throughout their organization that focuses on constant improvement, playing the game the right way, and being good role models in the community.”
“We are thrilled to be continuing our relationship with the Indianapolis Indians, their terrific ownership, front office staff and fans,” said Huntington.
Indianapolis posted an 83-61 record in 2015, which was tied for the best record in the International League. The Indians swept Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, three-games-to-none, in the first round of the playoffs before losing the fifth and deciding game of the league’s Governors’ Cup championship series against Columbus.
Indianapolis has been Pittsburgh’s Triple-A affiliate since 2005. The Indians have qualified for the postseason and won at least 80 games in three of the last four years, and is the only IL team to post a winning record in each of the past five years – seven times in 11 seasons since joining with Pittsburgh.
“I could not be more pleased that we have extended our relationship with the Indians through the 2020 season,” said Broadway. “Indianapolis is a wonderful community, Victory Field is an outstanding ballpark and the entire Indians’ staff is committed to making their operation the best in baseball. We look forward to building on this tremendous affiliate relationship over the next five years, and hopefully many more beyond that.”
THE INDIANS…: Concluded the 2015 regular season with the best record in the International League at 83-61 … Entered the Governors’ Cup Playoffs with a Wild Card berth via their playoff-seeding tiebreaker with the Columbus Clippers (Columbus won the head-to-head series, 11-10) … Swept the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in the semi-finals before falling to the Clippers in Game 5 of the championship series at Victory Field … Finished as one of four Pittsburgh Pirates affiliates to reach the postseason (also Double-A Altoona Curve, LoA West Virginia and NY-Penn League champion Short-Season West Virginia).
PACK THE VIC: The Indianapolis Indians set a franchise single-season attendance record for the second straight year in 2015 … The Tribe hosted a capacity crowd of 14,828 during the regular-season home finale (Aug. 5) to cap the year with a grand total of 662,536 fans through 71 home openings … That mark surpassed the 2014 record-setting attendance of 660,289.
80s PARTY: With a record of 83-61 in the 2015 regular season, 80-64 in 2013 and 89-55 in 2012, the Tribe currently ranks as the only team in the IL to notch 80+ wins in three of the last four seasons … Further, just one team in the league has reached the 80-win plateau in even two of the last four years (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2012 and 2015).
HE’S THE DEAN: Indians skipper Dean Treanor recorded a .500-or-better record for the fifth straight season in 2015 … He is the first manager in franchise history to lead the Indians to five straight winning seasons, surpassing Dave Miley’s previous record of four consecutive campaigns with a winning record from 1996-1999 … Through five seasons at the helm of Indianapolis, Treanor ranks fourth in all-time managerial wins with his career record of 401-319 (.557).
“THE CHAMP IS HERE”: The Tribe claimed a division title and playoff berth for the third time in four seasons last year, following its stretch of back-to-back IL West division titles in 2012-13 with a first-place finish in 2015 … As co-champions of the IL West division, Indianapolis clinched its fifth overall appearance in the IL playoffs through 19 seasons of affiliation with the league.
SWEET…15?: The Indians dispatched Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7-3, in Game 1 of the postseason, cruising to the club’s first home playoff win in 15 years … Prior to that victory, the Tribe’s last playoff win at Victory Field was the title-clinching game of its 2000 Governors’ Cup championship against that same Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise (SWB Red Barons).
HUMAN HIGHLIGHT FILM: Patrolling left field in Game 1 of the Governors’ Cup semi-finals, Keon Broxton made a superb sprawling catch after losing his footing in pursuit of a line drive … His highlight-reel catch was picked up nation-wide by major media outlets, and was even featured as the No. 3 play on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Countdown for Sept. 9-10.
SWEEPSTAKES: Trailing 2-0 in the ninth inning of Game 3 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Indy rallied for four runs during its final at-bat to complete a 4-2 comeback and notch a series sweep in the opening round of the 2015 postseason … The come-from-behind clincher marked the franchise’s first-ever sweep during the IL playoffs and first overall postseason sweep in any league since a 3-0 series win over the Louisville Redbirds in 1994 (American Association).
COMEBACK KIDS: After reaching the championship series and dropping each of the first two contests to the Clippers, Indianapolis twice staved off elimination in its final at-bat to force a deciding Game 5 for the Governors’ Cup … In Game 3, the Tribe overcame a 4-0, fourth-inning deficit when Keon Broxton scored the game-winning run on a grounder from Gustavo Nunez with one out in the bottom of the eighth …
In Game 4, Indy trailed 4-2 in the ninth before emerging as walk-off winners on a bases-loaded single from Josh Bell.
NEW ERA: Under new Tribe pitching coach Stan Kyles (new during Pittsburgh Pirates affiliation), the Indians led the league and set a Victory Field Era record with a 3.09 ERA (441er/1284.0ip) in 2015 … That 3.09 mark was also Indy’s best team-ERA in 26 years, ranking as the club’s lowest since the 1989 American Association champion Indians squad posted a 2.80 ERA.
HE’S ALL ABOUT THAT BASE: Triple-A rookie Keon Broxton produced the second-longest on-base streak of any IL batter during the 2015 season, reaching safely in 34 consecutive games from July 3 – Aug. 11 … His streak fell just three games shy of the league-high mark from former Tribe MVP Matt Hague (Buffalo) and was the longest on-base streak for Indianapolis since 2006 (Chris Richard, 46).
DECADE DROUGHT: Alen Hanson became the first Indians player in 10 years to win an IL Player of the Month Award with his honors for May, 2015 (last was LHP Zach Duke in May, 2005) … The Triple-A rookie Hanson reached base safely in 25 of 28 games, hit safely in 23 of 28 and produced 15 multi-hit efforts during May.
MR. EVERYTHING: Former Indiana Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball Clayton Richard began the season in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization before he was acquired by (July 3) and finished the year with the Chicago Cubs … The McCutcheon High School graduate pitched professionally in his hometown for the first time of his career when the Indians hosted Pawtucket on May 18, and his guest list for that debut featured more than 100 friends/family members … Richard went unbeaten in his five starts at home, combining for a 2-0 record and 1.64 ERA when pitching in downtown Indianapolis.
INDYSTAR-S: The Indians sent three representatives to the 2015 Triple-A All-Star game in catcher Elias Diaz (starter), right-hander Blake Wood (starter) and second baseman Alen Hanson … Diaz also participated in MLB’s All-Star Futures Game and later became just the fifth Tribe backstop elected to both the IL Mid and Postseason All-Star squad.
Tribe’s Joel Zawacki Honored by Junior Achievement of Central Indiana
Oct. 15 was a magical night for the Indianapolis Indians front office as Joel Zawacki, the Tribe’s director of marketing and corporate sales was recognized by Junior Achievement of Central Indiana as one of Indy’s Best and Brightest.
Dating back to 2004 Junior Achievement annually honors 100 of Central Indiana’s outstanding young professionals, age 40 and under, who are making their mark in and around Indianapolis. The event was created to recognize the up and coming talent and the next generation of leaders in Central Indiana.
Honorees are slated in 10 categories and Zawacki (31) was recognized within the Media, Entertainment and Sports group.
“These (100) rising stars are being recognized for their professional accomplishments, civic contributions, character and leadership qualities,” noted Jennifer Burk, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of Central Indiana.
An estimated crowd of 500 gathered downtown at the Ivy Tech Corporate College and Culinary Center, and entertainment included special presentations by JA student ambassadors, Burk, emcee and WTHR-TV news anchor and reporter Scott Swan, keynote speaker Indy Chamber CEO Michael Huber, and a series of amazing and humorous illusions by local magician Johnny Magic.
Noted in an Indianapolis Business Journal cover story earlier this year, since Zawacki joined the Indianapolis Indians sales department in 2007 the team has more than tripled sponsorship sales, to more than $3.3 million – a record for the 113-year-old franchise. Marketing initiatives have contributed to increased attendance the past six consecutive years, and record attendance at Victory Field the past two seasons where the team’s mission is to provide baseball as affordable and memorable family fun.
“(The Indians) have done a great job at developing a fine family tradition,” Capital Improvement Board Executive Director Barney Levengood recently said as part of an announcement that the CIB had unanimously approved a 20-year lease extension for the Indianapolis Indians at Victory Field through 2036.
Junior Achievement of Central Indiana’s mission is to educate young people in the areas of financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness, and to inspire them to explore and create opportunities, make good decisions and believe in their potential.
JA Best & Brightest industry classifications were accounting; banking and financial services; education and nonprofit; government; health and life sciences; law; manufacturing, retail and services; media, entertainment and sports; real estate, development and construction; and technology.
As a record-setting 662,536 fans can attest, the Indianapolis Indians celebrated one of the best seasons in all of Minor League Baseball in 2015.
Now, it’s time to make it official.
Voting is officially open for the Minor League Baseball Yearly (MiLBY) Awards and your Tribe is one of roughly just 30 teams with three nominations on this year’s ballot. Fans are encouraged to “Vote Tribe” in the categories of Top Starting Pitcher (RHP Tyler Glasnow), Photo of the Year (Josh Bell celebration after walk-off hit in debut) and Best Farm System (four affiliates reached playoffs) for the 2015 campaign.
The ballot is open through Tuesday, Oct. 27 and there is no limit on voting.
Results will be revealed on MiLB.com throughout the week of Oct. 28 – Nov. 5.
And without further ado…the Indianapolis Indians’ nominees are:
TOP STARTING PITCHER — RHP TYLER GLASNOW
Embodying his status as the top prospect of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Glasnow posted a 2.39 ERA with 136 strikeouts in 109 1/3 innings during both his Double-A and Triple-A debuts in 2015. The 22-year-old right-hander ranked third in all of Minor League Baseball with 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and is seeking a repeat title as MiLBY’s reigning Top Starting Pitcher from the 2014 campaign.
PHOTO OF THE YEAR — THE BELL TOLLS IN 13th
Ice in his veins and ice in the celebratory shower of top hitting prospect Josh Bell, when the 23 year old was doused on the field after hitting a walk-off single in his Triple-A debut. Bell, who later delivered a walk-off knock to force Game 5 in the Governors’ Cup title, capped his above-pictured debut in the bottom of the 13th inning for a 6-5 win over the Charlotte Knights on Aug. 1 at Victory Field.
(All-Star catcher Elias Diaz had the dousing honors).
BEST FARM SYSTEM — THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES
The Pittsburgh Pirates enjoyed tremendous success throughout their farm system in 2015, with four of eight affiliates reaching the postseason and Short-Season West Virginia winning a New York-Penn League championship during its inaugural season. The Buccos’ organization combined to finish second in the National League and fourth in the Majors with a combined record of 447-388 (.535) between eight MiLB clubs.
By Mike Lopresti
In the beginning, there was a shutout loss to the Columbus Clippers on opening night. Then another the next day. It took the Indians 22 innings in April to score their first run this season.
In the end, five months later, there was another blanking by the Clippers. This one decisive and final, settling the International League Governors’ Cup championship series, and subduing at last an Indianapolis team (83-61) that in September’s shadows had become as persistent as flies at a picnic, and as unkillable as James Bond.
In between was a division co-title, an attendance record, the best staff earned average run in 26 seasons, the first home playoff victory in 15 years, comebacks by the dozen, and a managerial first.
In other words, what a summer it was at the corner of Maryland and West Streets.
You could see it with 662,536 customers, more than any season in the 113-year history of the franchise, even as it rained nearly every day in June and July. Or threatened to, anyway.
“Second-wettest summer of all time,” general manager Randy Lewandowski said. “There was a time we looked at each other and said, ‘We’re going to have a hard time.’ It started creeping into our minds we might not be able to reach our goals.”
But they did. The people came.
You could see it with the steady stream of bodies headed up the line to Pittsburgh to reinforce the Pirates in the National League pennant race. That meant the Indians had to reload with young faces from Double-A, and hope for the best. The best is what they got. Many of the important faces of the stretch run – from Josh Bell to Keon Broxton to Willy Garcia – were in Altoona when the season began.
“I think it was great to have the opportunity to see another wave of outstanding talent in the Pirate organization coming through Indianapolis,” Vice President of Baseball and Administrative Affairs Cal Burleson said. “It was a group of players that got here a little before we thought they would, and when they got here, they adjusted well.”
You could see it by the Indians’ utter refusal to give in. Take those two opening shutout losses back in April. They responded with two shutout victories of their own in the next three games. Indianapolis won 10 times during the regular season when trailing after seven innings.
They added three more in the playoffs; wiping out a 2-0 deficit with four runs in the ninth inning of game 3 to sweep Scranton-Wilkes Barre, erasing an early 4-0 gap in Game 3 against Columbus to stay alive, and roaring back from 4-1 in the last two innings to win Game 4 against the Clippers with a Bell walk-off single.
That last one pushed the final series to the limit and set up a Game 5 they were sure they would win. Hadn’t destiny showed its hand?
“When they believe in each other like that, I know it’s going to be a cliche, but anything is possible,” Manager Dean Treanor said after Game 4. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”
The final act was not so pleasant, as Columbus’ Mike Clevenger shut down the Indians, 3-0. For once, there was no rally. But still, it was a small cloud on what had been a thrilling, exhilarating landscape.
“I know I said it a lot, almost to where I was boring myself saying it. But these guys don’t quit,” Treanor mentioned. “I think that actually makes that last loss even tougher, because of how good the year was, and these guys trying to do something special.”
You want special? The 2015 list was long.
Blake Wood leading the International League in saves with 29.
Wilfredo Boscan dropping a game on June 23, and not losing another until September 16, for a 12-start, 84-day unbeaten streak. He was one reason the Indians’ 3.09 ERA was the finest since 1989.
Alen Hanson coming off the disabled list on July 1, and promptly helping beat Columbus with an inside-the-park home run.
The Aug. 1 Triple-A debuts of hot prospects Bell and Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow pitched into the sixth that night. Bell went hitless his first five at-bats, but won the game with a single in the 13th inning.
Clayton Richard, once Indiana’s Mr. Baseball from up in the road at McCutcheon High, reviving his injury-interrupted career by never losing a home game. He was eventually off to the Cubs. In his last game as an Indian, he retired 19 of 20 Syracuse batters.
Treanor becoming the first manager in the history of the franchise with five consecutive winning seasons.
The mid-season turnover, as one parade went on to Pittsburgh, and another marched in from Altoona.
Thirty one-run victories during the regular season.
The first postseason series win in 10 years and first sweep in 21 years, blowing away Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by a combined score of 17-6 in three victories.
In Game 1, the Indians turned five double plays, and Broxton made a grab in left field from the seat of his pants after slipping, which made No. 4 on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays of the day.
In Game 2, Gorkys Hernandez had eight putouts in center, with a couple of scintillating catches. Game 3 was rescued with the rally. The Indianapolis starting pitchers gave up one earned run in three games.
By then, the Indians’ MO was long clear. There was an all-hands-chip-in mentality that featured pitching and defense and finding a way with the bat.
The Indians bludgeoned nobody. They tied for the best record in the International League while finishing 10th in home runs.
“There were a lot of guys that brought different things this year to the Indians team,” Burleson said. “We played good defense in the infield and our infielders had the ability to run the bases and be aggressive. Our outfield formed as good a defensive outfield as I’ve seen in Triple-A.”
The pitching, Burleson said, was “the mainstay of the ballclub throughout the season. We played a lot of low-scoring games, and because the pitching would hold us in the game, it would give us the opportunity to come back, which we did a number of times.”
That mixture gave a confidence in survival that pushed the team all summer. “It didn’t matter what the score was, we felt like we always had a chance,” Treanor said. “You need pitching and you need offense to be able to do that.”
Most of all, there was Game 4 against the Clippers. “As good a game as you’re going to see,” Treanor said. That’s when a season’s mission and resolve were capsulized in nine innings. Or actually the last two, when the Indians stormed back from a 4-1 deficit, with winter staring them in the face, and won it in the ninth with Bell’s single.
“Whatever they do,” Treanor said that night, “doesn’t surprise me.”
How to describe the scene afterward, as the Indians mobbed Bell and jumped into each other’s arms with the joy of a reprieve? It seemed almost a re-enactment of what happened on his 13th inning walkoff back in August.
“The way that the team celebrated after those wins just expressed a joy that is going to stay with me for a long time,” Burleson said. “It was sheer exuberance.”
And as Treanor said, “There are a lot of guys who are going to be talking about that playoff and about Game 4 for a long time.”
One lesson from the Indians’ season is how much depth there is at the moment in the Pirates’ system. How else can a Triple-A team reload with youth as the Indians had to do in mid-season, and still keep rolling?
“We were as young as I can remember,” Lewandowski said, “and that enthusiasm I think helped carry us through those dog days of summer.
“There was a difference with this team. They wanted it for Dean, they wanted it for themselves. With that youth, they just wanted to win. They wanted to prove their mettle in a high-pressure situation, and you could see it on the field.”
Treanor certainly could see it, especially with Bell, Broxton and Garcia.
“They brought a lot of energy to the game and a lot of energy to the clubhouse,” he said. “All three of them struggled when they got here, so you’re trying to protect them in the lineup. It’s not easy making the jump to Triple-A. But I think the really encouraging thing when you look back on it is at the end, all three of those guys were in the middle of our lineup, right where you expected them to be.”
So when Treanor headed for the Pirates clubhouse in September after the Indians were done, he knew just what message to take with him.
“It was one of the first things I said when I got up here — what’s coming,” he said. “It’s a testament to the organization. The future is bright for the Pirates, because we’ve got the talent down there and they’re all eager to get here.
“Whenever you change as much as we did this year, and have that club the way it was at the end, it puts an exclamation point on it.”
It was all nearly perfect. Except for that last game against Columbus.
“I’m still not over it,” Treanor said. “Before I even said a word (in the clubhouse afterward), just looking around the room and looking at everybody, it was very tough. I told them I was not prepared to talk to them after a Game 5 loss. It was the last thing I thought was going to happen.”
Treanor remembered the day of that game, and all the best wishes he had received from so many in the Pirates world. “Everybody was pulling for you. It was almost like you let them down. You get a hollow feeling. But what I really reflect on this year is how special those guys were.”
“Victory Field has proven to be a major player in the success of downtown Indianapolis, and I believe is sincerely appreciated by all of central Indiana,” Burleson said. “Our season didn’t end that long ago, but we are already looking forward to next April.”
The Indians will also be trying to break an attendance record for the third consecutive year. They’d love a threepeat.
“How do we reinvigorate our staff to do it for a third time?” Lewandowski said. “You don’t ever want to take for granted breaking records, especially at a facility that is going into its 20th anniversary. How we maintain that is our challenge.”
They’ll have the memories of 2015 to warm the effort. The last words of the season came from Treanor to his players, after the loss in the fifth game when he spoke of their will and resilience.
“I told them in that respect,’’ he said, “they were the best group I’d ever been with. Ever.”
It was a very good year.
Mike Lopresti is a Ball State University graduate and Richmond, Ind. native and resident. He was a sports columnist for Gannett newspapers and USA Today for 31 years, and covered 30 World Series and 33 Major League Baseball All-Star Games. He is a voter for Baseball Hall of Fame. When he retired he was 16th in nation in seniority on Baseball Writers Association of America.
Oct. 7, 2015 — The Indianapolis Indians’ parent club, the Pittsburgh Pirates are set for a winner-take-all Wild Card playoff game Wednesday night at PNC Park.
The Pirates’ path to a World Series begins with the one-game showdown against National League Central division rival the Chicago Cubs, and from Pittsburgh’s ace starter Gerrit Cole to a multitude of key role-players, Wednesday’s contest features tie-ins across the board to the Triple-A Tribe back in Indianapolis.
Here are a few headlines to follow during the Wild Card Playoff, which begins at 8:00 p.m. on TBS:
1. Ace of Club
- Wild Card Scoop: The current Pirates ace and former Indians rotation leader, Gerrit Cole, enters the Wild Card ranked second in the National League with 19 wins and fifth with a 2.60 ERA. Among the few NL starters to finish with better regular-season numbers? Cole’s counterpart Wednesday, Jake Arrieta, who went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA.
- Tribe Tie-In: Prior to his highly-anticipated promotion to the big leagues in 2013, Cole spent the first half of the campaign atop the Indians’ rotation in the International League. Cole has since capped his most recent rehab stint for the Tribe with a 13-inning scoreless streak and a 9-4 overall record with a 2.80 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 17 career Triple-A starts.
2. Run, Keon, Run!
- Wild Card Scoop: Keon Broxton’s standout 2015 season featured appearances at the top three levels of Pittsburgh’s system and culminated in his first taste of MLB action on Sept. 21 at Colorado. The former star wide receiver from Lakeland, Florida is typically the first pinch runner the Pirates call upon in close games, and Broxton has capitalized with three runs scored and a stolen base in six such appearances.
- Tribe Tie-In: Just a few months after his first career Triple-A promotion, Broxton concluded an impressive stint with the Indians with the team’s 2015 Rookie of the Year award. The speedster finished second in the IL with 28 stolen bases and fourth with 51 runs scored in 88 games after making his Triple-A debut on May 29.
3. Tribe Outfield Trio
- Wild Card Scoop: A star-studded outfield helped power the Pirates to their third straight postseason appearance, a feat previously accomplished just twice in team history. The trio, from left to right, features Starling Marte, who hit .287 and was fifth in the NL with 30 stolen bases, Andrew McCutchen, who hit .292 and was fourth in the league with a .402 on-base percentage, and Gregory Polanco, who hit .256 and finished 9th in the NL with 20 runs scored during the final month of the season.
- Tribe Tie-In: Each of the three outfielders – Marte, McCutchen and Polanco – have roots with the Indianapolis Indians.
- Marte appeared in 99 games with the Tribe in his lone Triple-A season in 2012, wrapping up an impressive performance with a .286 batting average and the current Victory Field Era (1996) single-season record of 13 triples.
- McCutchen dominated through three consecutive seasons in Indianapolis’ outfield from 2007-09, including capturing MVP honors of the 2008 Triple-A All-Star game with a two-hit, two-RBI effort at the showcase.
- Polanco was named the Indians’ team MVP in 2014 after leading the club to a 41-28 record during his 69 Triple-A starts.
4. Men in the ‘Pen
- Wild Card Scoop: The Buccos’ stout bullpen recorded 54 saves and 31 wins while leading all NL teams with a 2.67 ERA during the 2015 regular season. A handful of relievers contributed to the lights-out effort, and among those helping set the stage for All-Star closer Mark Melancon, were several key role players in former Tribers Jared Hughes, Bobby LaFromboise, Tony Watson and Vance Worley.
- Tribe Tie-In: Two of those four relievers pitched on the Indians’ staff during the 2015 season, with LaFromboise ranking third in the IL with 54 appearances and Vance Worley authoring six starts out of the rotation. In addition, the right-hander Hughes suited up with the Indians for parts of the 2011, 2012 and 2014 seasons, while Pittsburgh’s premier setup man, Watson, also joined Hughes in Indianapolis for the majority of the 2011 campaign.
5. Hometown Hero
- Wild Card Scoop: Former Indiana Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball, Clayton Richard, began the season in the Pirates organization before being acquired by and finishing the campaign with Pittsburgh’s Wild Card rival, the Chicago Cubs. Richard enters Wednesday’s playoff game with a 4-2 record and 3.83 ERA over 23 appearances (three starts) for the Cubs in 2015.
- Tribe Tie-In: The McCutcheon High standout pitched professionally in his hometown for the first time in his career when the Indians hosted the Pawtucket Red Sox on May 18. Richard would go on to conclude his Tribe stint unbeaten in five total home starts, combining to go 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA when pitching in downtown Indianapolis.
Oct. 6, 2015 — Each year thousands of Indianapolis residents rally for a few days around early October for Indy Do Day “when the people of Indianapolis get to know their neighbors, take ownership of their neighborhoods and take care of one another.” In 2015, Indy Do Day occurred Oct. 1-3. The Indianapolis Indians front office staff has been a regular participant, but had to delay its day of community service until Monday, Oct. 5 due to the execution of last Friday’s inaugural Victory Field Gridiron Classic.
Yesterday the Tribe spent the day serving Indianapolis’ underprivileged youth by refurbishing multiple diamonds at Forest Manor Park which is the primary home to Play Ball Indiana, an Indians community partner and the Indianapolis chapter of Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Program.
In addition to an overhaul of the diamonds, staff performed general repair of bleachers, cleanup, trimming of growth around fences, and other miscellaneous tasks.
Head groundskeeper Joey Stevenson and his staff led the project. Stevenson is recognized as one of the best groundskeepers in Minor League Baseball. Most recently he lead the transformation of Victory Field to a football field.
“We have had a great year at Play Ball Indiana and the Indians are a big reason why,” said P.B.I. Executive Director Mike Lennox. “As I departed Forest Manor Park on Monday I was filled with a great deal of pride in my heart and a deep sense of gratitude. Thank you to the Indianapolis Indians for you do.”