It's the secret code of the Cleveland sports fan.
Our most hurtful bumps and bruises take on ominous names as if they're secret government weapons rojects: "The Drive," "The Fumble," "Red Right 88."
Sure, there have been good times, too. Remember Kenny Lofton tearing across home plate at Seattle's Kingdome in October 1995 or Len Barker's perfect game in 1981? We just don't have catchy names for those parts of our history.
Beacon Journal writer Bob Dyer has painstakingly re-created what he deems the city's 20 most memorable sports moments in a new book titled "Cleveland Sports Legends: The 20 Most Glorious and Gut-Wrenching Moments of All Time" (Gray and Co., $24.95). We talked to Dyer about the list, his research and why our most heartbreaking sports memories still haunt us.
How did you decide on these 20 moments?
"I tried to rank them. The first dozen are easy. Then, it gets tricky. I got up to 25 and I showed them to people who were avid sports fans kind of trotted the list around and got feedback. For example, Lenny Barker's perfect game no-hitters outnumbe- perfect games 20 to 1. When you think about it, the perfect game is incredible. So I tracked down Lenny and re-created that day in much more detail than I'd ever seen it."
What sort of research did it demand?
"The first thing I did was read everything I could get my hands on even stuff I'd read as a kid that I had on my shelf. I also had a surprising amount of this on videotape. I had 'The Shot,' 'The Drive,' 'The Fumble,' so I popped them in the VCR and took notes. I also interviewed people. One of the most valuable resources was [Cavaliers and former Indians announcer] Joe Tait. He actually has reel-to-reel recordings of some of this stuff and a machine that still half works."
The book mentions that Fox Sports Television's Chris Rose once remarked, "Cleveland sports fans are 90 percent scar tissue." Why do you think the heartbreak lingers?
"There are so many bummers. But when you go back, even the heartbreaking ones, there was so much emotion and the city came together so much. I spent time in San Diego and sports are nothing there. They'd rather go ride their bikes or surf or skateboard. But in Cleveland, sports is part of the fabric of life."
One of the most surreal moments in the book is Municipal Stadium's "10-cent beer night" debacle. Why did it make the list?
"It's sort of become national lore. It's a defining moment. I thought it was so bizarre. I just wanted to go back and see how it was promoted and try to recapture the era that it was, which was so different than today."
What were the important criteria for making this list?
"Emotional impact was the bottom line. Of course, I couldn't do that with things that happened in 1920. There, it was a combination of personal emotional impact and what impact it seemed to have on our city. The air race used to draw 100,000 people a day, while the early Browns championship games were only drawing 30,000 people."
Which of the 20 moments reverberates the strongest for you?
"One of the ones that hit me the hardest was the 1981 Brian Sipe interception ['Red Right 88']. That probably still has the most emotional impact on me, followed close by the 1997 World Series. And I still remember 'The Miracle at Richfield.' They may have had the most frenzied fans ever at the Coliseum that night. When people are chanting in the stands a half hour before the game starts, you know something big is going on."