Are you a superstitious athlete or sports fan? So, do you think the Cleveland Indians will eternally fail, tracing back to a decision long ago? An episode of DarkKat Network’s “Ohio Mysteries,” “The Curse of Rocky Colavito,” investigates. We’ll hear about an unfortunate lineup trade that sports fans and journalists suppose has doomed the Cleveland Indians for over 75 years.
In this episode, host Paula Schleis unpacks the story. It was 1960, and the Cleveland Indians traded popular slugger, Rocky Colavito. The curse was a topic of discussion for years, but it hadn’t received any media coverage until 1994, when sports writer Terry Pluto from Akron Beacon Journal published a story.
Terry went on to write a book called The Curse of Rocky Colavito. 1948 marked the Cleveland Indians’ final winning of the World Series. Although they subsequently made it to the World Series three times, they lost every single game. Terry argued that the recurring misfortune following the Cleveland Indians could be linked to Rocky’s trade decision.
Rocky was a prodigy
Rocky grew up in the Bronx and idolized the New York Yankees. By age 9, he played semi-pro and dropped out of high school to pursue baseball full-time. Rocky was noticed by Mike McNally, a Cleveland Indians’ scout. By 1951, he was pro at 17 years old. In 1955, he was ready for the big leagues. That year, he tied for runner-up of the American League Rookie of the Year voting. Years later, he had a season with 41 home runs, one rank below leader Mickey Mantle. He set his team’s record with a 620 slugging percentage. In 1959, Rocky hit 42 home runs. 4 of his home runs happened in one game! And this has only happened a few times in history!
Manager Frank Lane’s infamous trade
Fans loved Rocky! He’d spend hours meeting and greeting after shows. In 1960, fans were heartbroken to learn Rocky was getting traded to the Detroit Tigers. General manager Frank Lane was notorious for trading, and Frank wasn’t Rocky’s biggest fan. When it was time for contract negotiations, Rocky asked for $45,000 a year, and Frank wasn’t game, claiming Rocky’s greed and how his trade made no difference to the team. In 1965, Rocky returned to the Cleveland Indians! That year, he finished in the American League’s top five for categories like home runs and hits. In 1967, Rocky left the team again. He retired in 1968 after playing majors for 14 years.
Author Tim Long explored “The Curse of Rocky Colavito” in 2005’s book, Curses. He ranked Rocky’s trade as the 4th worst trade ever by any sports team.
Toward the end of this episode, Paula shares additional sports superstitions including “The Curse of the Billy Goat” and “The Curse of the Bambino.” Tune in to the episode to learn more about “The Curse of Rocky Colavito.” For local legends, true crime, murders, and other lore, check out the series, “Ohio Mysteries.”