CLEVELAND, Ohio – One had scouts looking at him in his native Puerto Rico when he was 14. One threw a perfect game. One played his entire career with Cleveland. And another played on multiple postseason teams with the Indians: Carlos Baerga, Len Barker, Vern Fuller and Kenny Lofton all attended the Cleveland Indians’ annual Tribe Fest at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland on Saturday.
Baerga, Barker, Fuller and Lofton recalled a few on-field memories from their careers:
Baerga hit .291 over 14 Major League seasons. He played for six teams and was a three-time All Star with Cleveland. He hit .321 in 1993 for the Tribe. Time with Indians: 1990-1996, 1999. Career stats here.
Toughest pitcher faced: “Roger Clemens.” Clemens finished a 24-year career with a 354-184 record, ninth all time.
Good player you had success against: “Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Nolan Ryan. I’m the only player with over 15 at-bats against Nolan Ryan and never struck out. The first at-bat I hit a home run against him.”
Memorable moment in Cleveland: Baerga mentioned two moments – the Indians going to the World Series and hitting two home runs in the same inning on April 8, 1993. (With fewer than 14,000 fans in the stadium Baerga sent a 3-2 pitch against the Yankees’ Steve Howe to left-center. Next time up he smacked a home run that just cleared the right-center field wall off Steve Farr. Here is video of the two home runs.)
Today: Works with the Indians, including minor-league and Dominican players. Lives in Atlanta and Puerto Rico.
Barker is one of two Cleveland pitchers, along with Addie Joss, to throw perfect game. He was an All Star in 1981. Time with Indians: 1979-1983. Career stats here.
Toughest batter faced: “Rod Carew. He hit me and everything I threw at him.”
Good player you had success against: “George Brett. We as a staff did pretty well against Kansas City,” even though Brett was hovering near .400 at the time, he said. Barker said for one series Brett was hitting over .400, but by the time the series ended he was down to about .385.
Memorable moment in Cleveland: Putting aside the obvious answer of Barker’s perfect game on May 15, 1981, in Cleveland Stadium against Toronto, the 6-foot-5 righthander said “Pitching in the All Star game; 75,000 people were there. … We had a pretty good team. We couldn’t hit too well but played great defense.”
Today: In his ninth year as baseball coach at Notre Dame College in South Euclid.
Fuller wasn’t part of the alumni signing autographs but rather spent the day volunteering at the Baseball Heritage Museum booth. He is a longtime supporter of the museum, which is on the grounds of League Park. Time with Indians: 1964, 1966-70 – his entire career. Career stats here.
Toughest pitcher faced: “Jim Palmer, ’cause his fastball rose.” (Fuller made a rising-dipping motion with his hand.)
Good player you had success against: “Dean Chance. I hit him like strumming a guitar. He finally got traded to us. He said ‘I don’t have to face you anymore.’ ” (Chance, a Wooster native, played for the Indians in 1970.)
Memorable moment in Cleveland: “I hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth against Dick Hall. Slider, sinker, slider, sinker. He threw me a slider. It was in front of 55,000 people. They were there for bat day.”
Today: Retired from the hotel business, “volunteering here and there. My wife keeps me busy, my grandkids keep me busy.”
A six-time All Star, Lofton hit .299 over 17 Major League seasons with 11 teams. He played on six Indians teams that went to the postseason. Time with Indians: 1992-1996, 1998-2001, 2007. Career stats here.
Toughest pitcher faced: “Al Leiter.” Leiter played from 1987 to 2005 and finished with a 162-132 record.
Good player you had success against: “Pedro Martinez.” Lofton said in interviews Martinez has mentioned Lofton as a tough out.
Memorable moment in Cleveland: Lofton and Baerga joked with each other throughout autograph sessions, with Lofton saying “The most memorable moment was being around Carlos.” For on-the-field moments Lofton said “Going from no World Series since 1954 to knowing our next game was going to be in a World Series.” (In 1995, the Indians defeated Seattle in the American League Championship Series before losing to the Atlanta Braves in six games.)
Today: Runs a movie-production studio in California. His company produced the 2016 movie “My First Miracle.” (Here is a story about Lofton’s involvement with the movie.) On Monday, Feb. 18, his movie “Chokeholder,” which he describes as a women’s empowerment movie about mixed-martial arts, is due in Cleveland.