Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Brief Reign of "Super Joe" Charboneau

Joe Charboneau's road to the majors was wrought with peril. While waiting for the Indians' team bus outside a Mexico City hotel during spring training of 1980, he was stabbed by a crazed autograph seeker with a BIC pen. The implement sank deep enough to strike a rib. Teammates restrained the assailant until police arrived and the dazed rookie was taken to a Mexico City Hospital. Charboneau later described the conditions there as "awful" and commented: "The closest I ever want to get to that country again is a Mexican restaurant." His attacker was fined a meager fifty pesos for his actions and released.

Back in the states, Charboneau endeared himself to Cleveland fans with a fine debut performance, hitting .289 with 23 homers and 87 RBI's. He captured Rookie of the Year honors on the strength of those numbers. Charboneau had some highly unusual talents off the diamond as he was known to open beer bottles with his eye sockets then drink the contents with a straw through his nose. He was also fond of dyeing his hair garish colors. Always good for a quote, he remarked of the incident in Mexico City: "I'm going to get a commercial with the BIC people. I can go on TV and say 'BIC pens are best. (They'll) even write under blood.'"

 It ended all too soon for "Super Joe."During spring training of '81, he hurt his back executing a headfirst slide. His numbers suffered immensely and he was demoted to Charleston. He fought his way back to the big club the following year, but managed an anemic .214 average in 22 games. He underwent two back surgeries during his brief career. "Baseball is full of peaks and valleys," he told one writer. "When you're hurt, it's even valley-er."

Charboneau had a non-speaking part in the 1984 Barry Levinson film, The Natural. This was fitting, since he knew plenty about being a short-lived phenom. Despite only having appeared in 201 games, he landed among the Top 100 Cleveland Indians when the club compiled an all-time all-star list in 2001.

No comments:

Post a Comment