CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians are honoring Rocky Colavito, the Tribe slugger beloved by generations of baseball fans who will always leave us wondering "What if?", with his own statue.
On Tuesday, a groundbreaking ceremony took place at Tony Brush Park in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood, the place where the statue dedicated to Colavito, who is a member of the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame, will stand.
Colavito was a six-time All-Star who hit 374 home runs, which was the 15th-most-ever at the time of his retirement.
He played with the Indians from 1956 to 1959, and again from 1965 to 1968. In a massively unpopular move, the Indians traded Colavito to Detroit in his prime. The "curse" of Rocky Colavito, as it became known, became a Terry Pluto book of the same name about the 30-year-slump that followed.
Members of the Rocky Colavito Statue Committee, including Bob DiBiasio, the Cleveland Indians’ Senior Vice President of public affairs, put shovels in the ground to ceremonially begin construction that is expected to last three weeks.
"We all put the bat behind our shoulders like Rocky did. We all knelt on one knee in the batter's box or in the on-deck circle. He meant so much to the community of Cleveland," DiBiasio said.
“This project is going to bring added recognition to a well-deserved ballplayer whose impact on Cleveland went far beyond the playing field,” said Matt Gambatese, the committee’s chairman.
Celebrated sports sculptor David Deming created a clay statue and sent it to a foundry in Cleveland in May for completion.
Deming's work includes Indians legends Larry Doby, Lou Boudreau and Frank Robinson, as well as Browns stars Jim Brown and Otto Graham.
Colavito plans to be in attendance when the statue is dedicated on his 88th birthday on Aug. 10.
Watch the ceremony in the media player above.
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