Joe Charboneau

Induction Year: 2006 Sport: Baseball

Just as Camelot provided the inhabitants of King Arthur’s court with “one brief shining moment,” Charboneau would do the same for long-suffering Cleveland Indians fans some 14 centuries later. The carefree native of Belvidere, IL, burst upon an unsuspecting major league scene in 1980, two years after being traded to the Indians by the Philadelphia Phillies in a minor league deal. With spring training injuries opening the door, he found himself in the Tribe’s starting lineup on April 11 and proceeded to hit-and hit-and hit. By season’s end he had built a .289 batting average with 23 home runs and 87 runs batted in and found he had been named the American League’s “Rookie of the Year.” But there were other sides to the irrepressible rookie’s talents which kept the town buzzing, the turnstiles humming and inspired the inexplicably popular song hit “Go Joe Charboneau” which soared to #3 on the local charts. Such as his penchant for dying his hair grotesquely unnatural colors, opening beer bottles with his eye socket and drinking the beer through his nose with a straw, doing his own dental work and reportedly resetting a broken nose with a pair of pliers. It was enough to terrorize every mother of an impressionable youngster, but somehow to know him was to love him. It all came to a crashing end (literally) the following spring when he hurt his back in a headfirst slide during an exhibition game. He was never the same. He underwent two back surgeries, played in 60 more major league games and was released in 1983. But the mutual love affair with Cleveland prompted him to continue making his home in the area while staying active in various baseball-related activities and he now makes his home in North Ridgeville.