A long time coming

Cortland native scores tickets to four Series games

Tribune Chronicle / Guy Vogrin Patrick Finan of Cortland, the former director of the Niles McKinley Library, stands next to his "Tribe Shrine" in his Cortland home. Finan has been a fan of the Cleveland ball team since the late 1958s, missed a chance to see the World Series in the 1990s but now had tickets to all four home World Series games in 2016.

CORTLAND — Patrick Finan has been a Cleveland Indians fan since 1958, but like the team itself, he said his best experiences at the ballpark have been in the past year.

“This year, I bought a 20-game package. It is costing me a lot of money, but it has been worth it,” said Finan, the former director of the Niles McKinley Public Library.

Finan and his son Paul were in attendance Tuesday night at Progressive Field for Game 6 of the World Series. For Finan, this is his second World Series game in a week after attending Game 2 with wife Ellen. Because of his 20-game package, Finan had the chance to get all the home games during the Indians long playoff run. But because of vacation, he said they had to miss Game 1 of the Series on Oct. 25 and gave their tickets away.

Finan had been going to Indians games since the late 1950s when his dad and his two brothers made the drive from their home in Stow to the old lakefront stadium.

“My dad wasn’t that big of a fan. He kind of did his duty taking us boys to the games once a year,” Finan said.

Finan said his lifelong love affair with the Tribe sparked in 1959 when he was over his grandparents’ house and watched on an old black-and-white set as Rocky Colavito struck four homers in a game in Baltimore.

“Also in that 1959 year, I remember Terry Francona’s dad Tito just missing the batting title because he didn’t have enough plate appearances,” Finan said.

By high school, Finan said he started going to  Indians games with a friend’s large family who used to attend the old Sunday doubleheaders.

“We used to leave at 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning and not get back until late,” Finan recalled those two-for-one deals that also included some sort of giveaway like a bat or baseball.

It was during those Sunday twinbills that he witnessed Yankee slugger Mickey Mantle’s last visit to the lakefront.

Most times, the Indians played bad baseball and the huge 80,000-seat stadium was almost empty, but Finan said he didn’t care.

“It was always special to go,” he said.

Finan left northeastern Ohio after his college days, getting his first job in the southeastern Ohio community of Logan. There he lost contact with his favorite team.

“People around there were always talking about the Cincinnati Reds and that Pete Rose. I hated it,” he laughed.

It was during Game 2 of the World Series that Finan passed the Fox Sports broadcast tent in center field. His wife Ellen said she tried to persuade her husband to stick around and watch the announcers, but Finan wanted no part of it because Rose was there with the Fox team.

“I also don’t like A-Rod (Fox broadcaster and former Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez) very well,” Finan said.

Ellen Finan said her husband made her an Indians fan even before they were married in 1981.

“We used to go to Columbus Clipper games, which was the Indians minor league team,” she said.

Ellen Finan said she would rather not go to Game 6.

“It would be too nerve-wracking and besides, I almost froze during Game 2,” she said.

Finan said they have been making spring training trips to Goodyear, Ariz., the last several years.

“Ellen has family in the Phoenix area, so that makes it convenient for a visit,” Finan said.

Finan said he learned the best time to get autographs during spring training is during the morning workouts. This past spring, he managed to fill two balls with signatures.

“One of the balls has the names of Terry Francona, Carlos Santana and Roberto Perez,” Finan said about the potential relic if the Tribe wins it all.

Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis were the  toughest autographs to obtain, while Finan said, “(Francisco) Lindor signs for everybody.”

Santana and Perez both blazed key home runs during the Series, while Francona would have taken his third title with a second team. Francona won the World Series with Boston in 2004 and 2007, the year Boston defeated Cleveland in the American League Championship Series.

That was also the year that Finan attended his first Tribe playoff game in person.

“Yes, that was the midge game,” he said in referring to the storm of bugs at Progressive Field that attacked and distracted then-Yankee reliever Joba Chamberlain. “We were in the stands and didn’t see a thing.”

Finan, who attended the last three games at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1993, remembers his first experiences with the new ballpark, in which a ticket was always tough to get in the 1990s.

“We would usually end up in Row X, which is the top row of the upper deck, and we had to usually go in April, May or September and freeze up there,” he said.

For this past week’s World Series games, the Finans were sitting in Section 113 in right field.

“We were right near the bar, but it is a long way from Row X,” Finan said.