Alomar's heroics, All-Star Game's success help Cleveland bury `curse'

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Associated Press CLEVELAND _ No rivers caught fire, there were no riots in the stands and the weather was just fine. Cleveland's own Sandy Alomar was even the star of the game, hitting the first All-Star homer by an Indians player since Rocky Colavito. Does this mean the Cleveland Curse is buried for good? It sure seemed that way when Alomar's shot took its dramatic flight into bedlam and baseball history in the AL's 3-1 victory Tuesday night. ``When a guy hits a home run in the All-Star game at his own ballpark, it's magic,'' said teammate Jim Thome. Magic, as opposed to the voodoo, bad luck and miserable destiny that besieged this city and sports franchise for decades. ``This is another stake in the heart of bad things of Cleveland's past,'' said Terry Pluto, author of the 1994 book, ``The Curse of Rocky Colavito.'' ``As an Indian fan you would expect Sandy Alomar to hit the home run and pull a muscle going around second base,'' said Pluto, a columnist for the Akron Beacon-Journal. ``I mean, that's the kind of thing that always happened to this team.'' The litany of misfortune that all seemed tied to the trade of Colavito from Cleveland to Detroit for Harvey Kuenn on April 17, 1960. From 1948-59, the Indians finished first, second or third nine times, won two pennants and might have won more if not for the New York Yankees. From 1960-93, they had four 100-loss seasons and finished as high as third only once. For years, the whole town was America's favorite joke, starting with the flames that rose from the Cuyahoga River one night in the mid '70s. As for the franchise, there was more than just plain losing. There were the dime beer night riots at Cleveland Stadium in 1974 and the delay of the 1981 All-Star game in Cleveland because of a players' strike. In 1993, a boating accident in spring training claimed the lives of pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews. A year later, the Indians moved to Jacobs Field and were in second place with a 66-47 record _ when another strike ended the season. There was no World Series, for Cleveland or anybody else. The curse even struck in the 1970 All-Star game when catcher Ray Fosse was clobbered by Pete Rose in a collision at home plate. Fosse was never the same player after that. Then Alomar, an Indians' catcher, stepped to the plate in the All-Star game in Cleveland and made people remember Fosse and all those years of heartache. A voice proclaimed that it was the first homer by an Indians player in the All-Star game since Colavito in 1959. ``I was laughing so hard going around the bases,'' Alomar said. ``I couldn't believe it was happening.'' Some would argue that the curse was actually lifted in 1995, when the Indians won their first AL pennant in 41 years and lost to Atlanta in the World Series. During the 16 months that followed, the cornerstone of that team disappeared. The popular Carlos Baerga and Eddie Murray were traded; career home run leader Albert Belle was lost to free agency; Kenny Lofton was traded to Atlanta. John Hart, the daring general manager, was all smiles in the AL clubhouse after Alomar's feat. The Indians are in first place again, and Alomar carries a 30-game hitting streak into the second half of the season. With a hit on Thursday at Minnesota, Alomar can tie Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie for the longest streak in club history. ``This is a franchise on a rise,'' Alomar said. ``We have everything here. We have the fans, we have a contending team, we have a great city. What more can I have?''

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