June 22, 1980 – Joe Charboneau HR – Goes on to Win Rookie of the Year
Soon after his call-up after Andre Thornton went down with a knee injury at the end of spring training Terry Pluto gave Joe Charboneau the moniker “Super Joe.” After crushing a home run against the Angels on Opening Day, Cleveland was captivated with the rookie slugger.
By mid-June, he was slugging homers and tall tales were growing among the fanbase. He broke rocks against his chest. He opened beer bottles with his eye socket. He was a bareknuckle boxer before taking up baseball. He fixed a broken nose with plenty of whiskey and a pair of pliers. Joe never confirmed or denied most of the legends.
On June 22nd, the Indians were in Minneapolis to face the Twins. Bo Diaz and Miguel Dilone got the Tribe out to an early 2-0 lead. The Twins tied it up in the bottom of the second with a two-run single by Dave Edwards.
In the top of the third, Super Joe singled to center to load the bases. After a flyball out by Toby Harrah, Jack Brohamer pushed Orta and Hargrove across with a two-run double. Rick Manning then drove in Charboneau to give the Tribe a 5-2 lead.
In the top of the 4th, Charboneau singled to left in an inning that saw the Tribe score one run on three hits but strand two runners on base.
In the top of the 6th, Tom Veryzer led off with a double to left field. Dilone singled to move him over to third. Dilone then stole second to move into scoring position. Dell Alston knocked a triple into the left field corner, scoring Veryzer and Dilone. Mike Hargrove then drove in Alston with and RBI single. After a pitching change, Charboneau sent Fernando Arroyo’s pitch into the stands for a two-run home run.
The Twins would scatter a few more runs, but Super Joe’s Home Run turned out to be the icing on the cake.
A week later on June 28th, Charboneau would become one of only three players to ever hit a home run into the third deck of Yankee Stadium. However, the Indians would go on to lose 11-10.
Super Joe finished the 1980 campaign with 23 home runs, and 87 RBIs. He became Cleveland’s third AL rookie of the year. A local punk band had recorded Go Joe Charboneau and reached No. 3 on the local charts.
The sophomore slump hits many major leaguers, but none fell off as dramatically as Super Joe. After hitting poorly in the early part of 1981, Charboneau injured his back sliding into head-first into second base while playing for the AAA Charleston Charlies. He played only 70 more major-league games and has the fewest MLB appearances for any Rookie of the Year winner.