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Issue Date: April 2012


Erick Trickey

A Wagner opera echoed through the cavernous, nearly empty Municipal Stadium. The Cleveland Summer Orchestra, the stripped-down, hot-weather version of the Cleveland Orchestra, was playing the first of 12 concerts in its 1953 home. The 70 musicians had relocated from Public Auditorium, closed that summer to install new air conditioning. About 2,000 fans were listening to them at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night, June 2, before the Indians' 8:30 game against Boston.

Six Indians, including pitchers Al Aber, Dick Weik and Steve Gromek, paused at the center field fence during batting practice to listen. Perhaps one of them was the reliever whom a reporter spotted doing an "adagio-like dance" while chasing a fly ball in center field.

The orchestra played 10 numbers that night, including a Tchaikovsky waltz and polonaise, "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and, inevitably, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." The Indians beat the Red Sox 7-3, thanks to Mike "The Bear" Garcia's six-strikeout complete game and Al Rosen's four RBIs, including a three-run home run. "Sweet Music," read The Plain Dealer's box-score headline the next day. But that June was a swan song for Aber, Weik and Gromek. All three were traded 13 days later to last-place Detroit.

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