Paul Newman with Cleveland Indians players Leon Wagner, Chuck Hinton, and Rocky Colavito, spring training, 1966

The photo above is one of my favorite images from the Cleveland Press Collection of the Michael Schwartz Library at Cleveland State University (my employer). It’s a great photo. Newman, a native Clevelander, dominates the scene, thanks to his placement in the center and his handsome features. Of course, you’d expect an actor to be comfortable in front of a camera, and Newman clearly is. Wagner, to Newman’s right, looks as though he’s trying not to laugh, while Colavito, whose own good looks didn’t go unnoticed by female Indians fans, looks awkward and star-struck. Besides Newman, only Hinton looks comfortable and relaxed.

I just learned today that Hinton died last Sunday at the age of 78. Hinton began his major league career with the Washington Senators in 1961. He played for the Indians from 1965 to 1967, and again from 1969 to 1971. Hinton wasn’t a great player, not by a long shot, but he was a versatile one. In 1965, he played six different positions in the field for the Indians: first, second, and third base, and all three outfield positions. In 1970, he also also played six different positions in the field: first, second, third, left, right, and catcher.

Hinton had some speed, especially in the beginning of his career. In 1965, he stole 17 bases for the Indians while being caught stealing only three times; that .850 success rate was the best in the American League that season.

The Indians released Hinton in January of 1972. He then became the head baseball coach at Howard University in Washington, D.C., a position he held for 28 years. Hinton was the founder of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.

Of the men in the photo, only Colavito survives today. Newman died in 2008. Wagner, whom I will profile in an upcoming installment of “Forgotten Indians,” died in 2004.

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