Portage Tribe fans predict series victory

By Julie Pavelich Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The Indians lost to the Florida Marlins, 7-4, during the first game at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Fla. Game 2 starts at 8 tonight.

Early in the evening crowds of people packed Damon's on S.R. 59 in Kent to root on the Tribe on one of the restaurant's four big screen televisions.

At 8:30 p.m., when the number of diners normally starts to clear on a Saturday night, 22 parties were waiting for a seat to catch a glimpse of the Indians, said Damon's general manager Patrick Bauer.

"We expected there to be a big crowd but not as big as we got," he said during the first inning. "We usually have only five or six groups waiting at this time."

Those fans fortunate enough to have a seat in the restaurant's club house, where the 4-by-8-feet screens are, were happy with the Indians' early lead and were looking forward to a World Series title.

"I came here tonight to be with a bunch of friends and watch the game," said Tom Thomas of Ravenna, who was seated right in front of one of the screens with his wife and others. "I think the Indians will win tonight and will win the series in five games.

"Both teams are real good, and Florida has nice hitting and a really nice pitching (staff), even though they are young, but Cleveland does too," he said.

Stow resident Alicia Rowe said she also was optimistic about a series title but believed it would be more of a challenge.

"I think it will come down to the last game," she said.

Melissa Boyd was with her family rooting for the Indians and celebrating her father-in-law's birthday.

"This will be a great birthday present for him, if they win," said Boyd, a fan for about seven years, and especially since 1995 when the Indians last were in the World Series. "I think they've got the best team this year, have made good trades and are playing with their heart this time."

"It's different this year," said Mike Canfield of Parma, who was at Damon's with his wife and two friends. "This time it wasn't quite as expected, and now they are here and we really want them to win."

Chris Jones of Kent, a New York Yankee fan, was still upset about the division series two weeks ago and was rooting for the Marlins.

"I hate the Indians with a passion," he said. "I'm a Yankee fan so I will go for anybody who will beat the Indians."

He was one of only a handful not rooting for the Tribe. In fact, Damon's employees said all but two parties of customers who came in Saturday night to watch the game were tribe fans.

Down the road in Ravenna at East Park Restaurant, the crowds were smaller but Indians fans there were still optimistic despite a 5-to-1 Marlins lead during the fourth inning.

"It's only Game 1. More than likely, (the Indians) will win the series," said Jim Uglow of Rootstown. "The way they are playing this year is a real team effort, as everyone has stepped up at one time or other when they needed to. That's why they are here now."

Uglow and his friend, Pam Miller, were dining at East Park for Sweetest Day.

"We had to pick a place where we could eat out for Sweetest Day and where he could watch the game," Miller said.

"They picked a bad day to have Sweetest Day," Uglow quipped.

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