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Alomar's heroics, All-Star Game's success help Cleveland bury `curse'

Published: July 10, 1997 12:00 AM

Associated PressCLEVELAND _ No rivers caught fire, there were no riots in the stands andthe weather was just fine.Cleveland's own Sandy Alomar was even the star of the game, hitting thefirst All-Star homer by an Indians player since Rocky Colavito.Does this mean the Cleveland Curse is buried for good?It sure seemed that way when Alomar's shot took its dramatic flight intobedlam and baseball history in the AL's 3-1 victory Tuesday night.``When a guy hits a home run in the All-Star game at his own ballpark, it'smagic,'' said teammate Jim Thome.Magic, as opposed to the voodoo, bad luck and miserable destiny that besiegedthis city and sports franchise for decades.``This is another stake in the heart of bad things of Cleveland's past,''said Terry Pluto, author of the 1994 book, ``The Curse of Rocky Colavito.''``As an Indian fan you would expect Sandy Alomar to hit the home run andpull a muscle going around second base,'' said Pluto, a columnist for theAkron Beacon-Journal. ``I mean, that's the kind of thing that always happenedto this team.''The litany of misfortune that all seemed tied to the trade of Colavito fromCleveland to Detroit for Harvey Kuenn on April 17, 1960.From 1948-59, the Indians finished first, second or third nine times, wontwo pennants and might have won more if not for the New York Yankees. From1960-93, they had four 100-loss seasons and finished as high as third onlyonce.For years, the whole town was America's favorite joke, starting with theflames that rose from the Cuyahoga River one night in the mid '70s.As for the franchise, there was more than just plain losing. There werethe dime beer night riots at Cleveland Stadium in 1974 and the delay ofthe 1981 All-Star game in Cleveland because of a players' strike.In 1993, a boating accident in spring training claimed the lives of pitchersSteve Olin and Tim Crews. A year later, the Indians moved to Jacobs Fieldand were in second place with a 66-47 record _ when another strike endedthe season. There was no World Series, for Cleveland or anybody else.The curse even struck in the 1970 All-Star game when catcher Ray Fosse wasclobbered by Pete Rose in a collision at home plate. Fosse was never thesame player after that.Then Alomar, an Indians' catcher, stepped to the plate in the All-Star gamein Cleveland and made people remember Fosse and all those years of heartache.A voice proclaimed that it was the first homer by an Indians player in theAll-Star game since Colavito in 1959.``I was laughing so hard going around the bases,'' Alomar said. ``I couldn'tbelieve it was happening.''Some would argue that the curse was actually lifted in 1995, when the Indianswon their first AL pennant in 41 years and lost to Atlanta in the WorldSeries.During the 16 months that followed, the cornerstone of that team disappeared.The popular Carlos Baerga and Eddie Murray were traded; career home runleader Albert Belle was lost to free agency; Kenny Lofton was traded toAtlanta.John Hart, the daring general manager, was all smiles in the AL clubhouseafter Alomar's feat. The Indians are in first place again, and Alomar carriesa 30-game hitting streak into the second half of the season. With a hiton Thursday at Minnesota, Alomar can tie Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie for thelongest streak in club history.``This is a franchise on a rise,'' Alomar said. ``We have everything here.We have the fans, we have a contending team, we have a great city. Whatmore can I have?''

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