June 12, 1995 – The Sellout Streak Begins
While the excitement around the team had built through 1994 with the nucleus of the team coming together in a new ballpark, the 1995 team was an absolute juggernaut.
John Harts home-grown talent was finally bearing real fruit. The team featured All-Stars at nearly every position. Solid hitters who would have populated the heart of the order on lesser teams Paul Sorrento and a young Manny Ramirez were often listed 7th or 8th behind mashers like Albert Belle and Jim Thome.
On a Monday night in June 1995, Jacobs Field sold out. In most cities, baseball attendance picks up when school is out for the summer and when folks begin to take vacations. So this was not altogether surprising. What followed was exceptional.
The Indians would go on to win six straight division titles and treat the fans to 44 walkoff wins over the next six years. And the sellouts would continue–455 consecutive regular season home games. Until Game 2 of the 2001 season, a ticket was not available at first pitch.
Throughout the streak, seats were consistently added to Jacobs Field, bringing it to a peak capacity of 45,569. Some readers may remember the “Auxiliary Bleachers” that sprouted beyond the former picnic patio in center field for a few years. Subsequent renovations have dialed back capacity significantly, with current seating listed at 34,788.
From 1996 to 2001 Tribe attendance was over 3 Million each season. Currently, there are eight major league teams that have never drawn 3 million fans in the course of a season.
So, what happened on June 12, 1995 to kick it all off? Chuck Nagy pitched a solid seven innings, giving up three runs, only one of which was earned. Omar Vizquel drove home Wayne Kirby with a sacrifice hit in the bottom of the third, and the Trbe pulled away in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI double by Eddie Murray, an RBI single by Wayne Kirby, and a walk by Omar Vizquel with the bases loaded to force in a run. Paul Assenmacher and Jose Mesa both pitched 1-2-3 innings in the eighth and ninth to close out the contest. In short, it was the type of game that happened nearly every night for the 1995 squad.
In 2001, Jim Thome commented on the end of the streak, “We appreciate what our fans did to achieve that streak. There were lots of nights when they could have stayed home and watched the game on television, but they came out to the ballpark.”