Severe arthritis ... a bum hip ... It’ll take more than that to slow down Harvey Arnold’s band. With an average age of 83 years old, the Jacobs Field Band — pardon, the Progressive Field Band — is back for a 14th season of serenading Tribe fans with Dixieland standards.
“When I pick up the horn, I forget every pain that I have,” says Arnold, 85, who has been playing the trumpet since he was 7 years old. He started playing in bands as a teen growing up in bustling, big-city Cleveland.
Now the Richmond Heights resident leads a group of hardy musicians that includes Andy Veres, 90, on clarinet (he had a hip replaced, but it’s on the mend) and Jim Reboudo, 76, and Ed Kriz, 80, alternating on accordion duties.
“The beautiful part about music is you don’t forget how to play it,” says Arnold. “With music, you can go back 50, 60, 70 years.”
The current group was founded after former Indians owner Dick Jacobs saw a similar band at another ballpark. But Arnold’s association with the Tribe goes back to the Municipal Stadium days. He and the late Trevor Betsy, a tuba player, would play near the right field bullpen between innings during the 1950s.
These days, the trio rolls along the ballpark’s corridors in red-and-white striped jackets, Chief Wahoo caps and sunglasses. For about 50 games each season, they honor all requests, and regale fans with favorites such as “When the Saints Go Marching In” and, of course, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
“Music keeps us very youthful,” Arnold says. “This kind of music never dies. It’s a happy music. You can’t help but like it."