The Best They Could Be


The Best They Could Be

How the Cleveland Indians became the Kings of Baseball, 1916-1920

Scott H. Longert

270 pages


April 2013


$32.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2013


$32.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Since the founding of professional baseball, few teams have risen above years of mediocrity only to see their fortunes interrupted by war and tragedy. Fewer still have then rallied to win the World Series. In the early twentieth century, the Cleveland Indians brought the world championship to their city of passionate fans in a spectacular style that has yet to be replicated. The Best They Could Be recaps the compelling story of the ballplayers and team owner who resurrected this proud but struggling franchise. Although the Cleveland ball club had been an active part of professional baseball from the late 1860s and a charter member of the American League, by 1915 the team was on the brink of collapse. Into this dejected atmosphere came new owner James C. Dunn, who, lacking baseball experience, nonetheless had the business savvy to bring his club to the forefront, acquiring superstar center fielder Tris Speaker, Larry Gardner, and other great players. But during the rise of the franchise, the outbreak of World War I interrupted baseball. Then, in 1920, as the Indians were leading the pennant race, shortstop Ray Chapman died after a pitch fractured his skull. The outpouring of sorrow from teammates and fans alike made the Indians more determined than ever to fight their way to the top. Scott H. Longert’s entertaining and poignant narrative traces the rise, fall, and rebirth of one of America’s most beloved baseball teams.

Author Bio

SCOTT H. LONGERT is the author of Addie Joss: King of the Pitchers and has written numerous articles on baseball history for the Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday MagazineTimeLineThe Baseball Research Journal, and The National Pastime. He lives in Beachwood, Ohio, with his wife, Vicki, and golden retriever, Blair.


"It’s World Series time. And for fans of the Cleveland Indians, that means lots of football, leaf raking and pining for days gone by. . . . Longert’s 280-page missive on the ’20 Indians is for the serious Tribe fan who wants to be either reminded or taught about how the Indians went from bottom-feeder to contender in the late 1910s."—Phil Trexler, Akron Beacon Journal

"The Best They Could Be is a congenial page-turner, a fluidly-written and thoroughly researched account of an under-appreciated championship club."—Bill Lamb, Inside Game

“Scott Longert’s well-researched story of the making of the 1920 Cleveland Indians is one of the true underdog tales in baseball history. The Best They Could Be is a welcome addition to the baseball library.”—Mike Sowell, author of The Pitch That Killed and One Pitch Away

“In The Best They Could Be, author Scott Longert brings to life the triumph and tragedy of an unforgettable season in Indians history. A must read not just for every serious Cleveland sports fan, but for all baseball fans.”—Bud Shaw, Cleveland Plain Dealer sports columnist

“Scott Longert takes the reader back to a time when Cleveland was one of America’s mightiest industrial cities and baseball was the king of sports. His detailed account of how the Cleveland franchise rebounded from financial peril to win the World Series five years later is a tale worth being remembered and celebrated.”—Matt Underwood, Cleveland Indians announcer

“Scott Longert blends a strong sense of history, solid research, and fine writing. This isn’t just for Cleveland Indians fans; it’s for anyone who wants to experience baseball during the era of the First World War, when players climbed out of the coal mines, onto the diamonds, and into fans’ hearts.”—Marc Bona, Cleveland Plain Dealer editor