If there's one word that gets a Northeast Ohioan through long winters, it's "optimism"...optimism that the cold will soon break and give way to spring, and optimism that the beloved Cleveland Indians will win after the cry of "play ball" breaks out.
With both warmer weather and baseball winning in mind, over 2500 Indians fans packed into Summit Mall on Saturday, for the second stop on the team's annual Winter Press Tour. The tour stop was sponsored by Akron's home of Indians baseball on the radio, 1590 WAKR. (Both 1590 WAKR and this website, AkronNewsNow.com, are locally owned and operated by Rubber City Radio Group.)
Thousands lined up for meet and greet sessions, and autograph signing, with current Tribe favorities like Jason Kipnis.
"He's a great player," a knowledgeable young woman brought to Summit Mall by her father tells AkronNewsNow.com. "He's my favorite position player. I think my favorite pitcher is maybe Justin Masterson."
The optimism for the Indians season ahead was shared by young and old...who also wore matching Indians gear while waiting to meet the players.
"I've got an Indians hat, and an Indians sweatshirt," one father said, describing his own wardrobe. "and my son has a Thome Indians shirt on."
And who were some of the young people's other favorite Indians?
"Grady Sizemore...Shelly Duncan," a pre-teen started listing for us. "Manny Acta's probably a good manager...and Fausto Carmona."
We didn't get into the name controversy with the veteran Indians pitcher.
Speaking of veteran Indians pitchers, one legendary former Tribe hurler was keeping those waiting in line happy. Len Barker, forever in Indians lore for throwing a "perfect game" in 1981, was signing autographs and greeting fans.
Travel agents, you could be getting a call from one Akron couple...who says they're trying to head for Arizona again this year.
"Me and my wife, we're trying to go out to Spring Training, to the Indians' Goodyear facilities," a man told us while waiting to meet some of his favorite Tribe players. "It'd be our third year going."
That's how it goes in a late winter of baseball optimism in Northeast Ohio...first Goodyear for many, as winter slowly gives way to spring, then Progressive Field.