In a society where many men are reluctant to show emotion, bonding activities between fathers and sons can be few. One place to find common ground is baseball. Cleveland sportswriter Terry Pluto and his father Tom shared a love of the Cleveland Indians, which became increasingly important in the last few years after the elder Pluto suffered a stroke, as detailed in Our Tribe.
To say the Cleveland Indians are a star-crossed franchise is a vast understatement. In 1954, the Indians won 111 games (an American-league record that stood until last year), but the Indians would not play another playoff game until 1995. Inept management, lopsided trades, injury, and just plain bad luck conspired to keep the Tribe in or near the basement of the American league for more than four decades. Pluto highlights some of the more painfully entertaining seasons in Cleveland's history, and his anecdotes make the reader root for the Indians no matter who their favorite team is. Baseball fans learn much about the franchise, including its original association with a player currently banned for life from baseball, its steps to become the first American League team to sign an African American, and its decision to let a 24-year-old star shortstop manage the team.
These stories make the book fun to read for any baseball fan who wants to know more about the Indians, but the book is much more than a baseball guide. The relationship between Tom and Terry Pluto is highlighted, as Terry intertwines stories of the Indians' rise and fall with the day-to-day of his father's life. Readers come to identify with the trials the Indians suffer, and also with the struggles of the Plutos as they deal with Tom Pluto's stroke.
Dean Miller is a reviewer in Carmel, Indiana.