Indians warm fans with win over Cubs

RELATED: Valley Tribe fans confident Indians will take Series

By Charles Grove


For many Indians fans, Tuesday night evoked so many emotions. Excitement mixed with nerves. Hope mixed with fear.

Plenty of Mahoning Valley natives and residents plan to fill up Progressive Field for the World Series, while others can only dream of that opportunity – no matter the wind chill.

Lenny Reich, University of Mount Union sports information director, took his family to Game 1 and was not disappointed as the Indians beat the Chicago Cubs 6-0.

Life took him away from the World Series in 1995 and 1997, so Tuesday he was brimming with excitement.

“Ironically in ’95 I was attending Georgia Southern when the Indians were playing the Braves, so I was in enemy territory,” Reich said. “In ’97, I was the lone guy in New Jersey wearing a Chief Wahoo hat begging the bartender to put the game on.

“But I’m close enough to take part this year.”

Cortland native and Youngstown State graduate Sam Ameen won’t be attending until Game 2 tonight. His wife was one of just a few who were able to snag tickets the moment they went on sale online. Game 1 was spent on the couch in very specific positions and wardrobes.

“We’ve got a sectional sofa, and I sit on the far left and she sits on the far right,” Ameen said. “We’re very superstitious. I’ve got my gray Indians hoodie and she’ll wear a navy-blue Indians hoodie.”

Zachary Morgason, who spent part of his childhood in Youngstown, where his father grew up, had a bit of a choice to make after the Cubs and Indians advanced to the World Series. He grew up cheering for both teams.

“After Youngstown, we moved out to Illinois where everyone I knew was a Cubs fan. So they kind of became my National League team since they didn’t play the Indians very often and we could both hate the White Sox,” Morgason said.

Morgason has the same feeling many Indians fans are experiencing this October. It’s hard to believe that the Indians aren’t necessarily who neutral fans want to win.

“The Cubs are the only team with a longer World Series drought than the Indians,” Morgason said. “I’m also a Steelers fan, so I kind of know what it’s like to be in that villain role. But it almost doesn’t make sense with the Indians.”

But if those “villains” can win, in addition to the Cavaliers’ winning an NBA title last June, Cleveland sports could be thought about in a light very different from what they were for decades.

“The media puts a bad rap on Cleveland,” Ameen said. “If the Indians pull it out then instead of being the ‘Mistake by the Lake,’ they’ll reconsider and call it the city of champions. We can be respected as a city when it comes to sports.”

That Cavaliers’ championship – at the very least – has calmed the nerves, now that Cleveland is no longer on a title drought spanning decades.

“It’s different after the Cavs won,” Reich said. “Before, we were always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I kept thinking what we would be calling Trevor Bauer’s finger if they hadn’t won. Would we be calling it ‘The Finger?’”

No matter the final outcome, many happy memories will be made before either team wins a fourth and decisive game. Ameen’s dream will come true tonight during Game 2.

“I was 6 and 8 years old the last two times the Indians were in the World Series,” Ameen said. “I remember watching them on television and thinking, ‘It’d be really cool to be at one of those games.’ Nineteen years later, I was sitting here thinking, ‘When’s this ever going to happen again?’”