Patti and I lived in the Cleveland, Ohio suburbs for 15 years. Before we moved there, we were living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. When I was considering a job change that would require a move to Cleveland, we had folks (who never lived there) say, “Are you kidding? The mistake on the lake? Ohio? Really?”

They had this image of Cleveland back when the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. A river … catching on fire, how can that happen?

On the other hand, we knew people who had lived in Cleveland. This was their response: “Go quickly and never look back. Great place to raise a family. Great place to live. Yeah, it gets cold in the winter, but it’s just a wonderful place for family.”

The job opportunity was a good one and we moved to Cleveland. Except for the dominant grey skies in winter, it was truly one of the best place to live that Patti and I have ever experienced. We met lifelong friends there. We had experiences we treasure with friends and family there.

And one of the greatest experiences I had when we were living there was to watch the rise of the Cleveland Indians. When we first got there in 1990, the Tribe played in Memorial Stadium, which was right down on the banks of Lake Erie. Great old stadium, but lots, maybe loads, of empty seats back in the very early ’90s.

Then they moved to a sparkling brand-new stadium called Jacobs Field, just at the south end of downtown. And a miracle happened. They began to win … and win heartily and convincingly.

Our son, JD, was born in 1990, so as he began to grow and show interested in athletics, baseball was king. He wanted to be a baseball player. Patti claims that when he was 3 he followed a complete 9-inning game on the TV. Seems a bit far-fetched, but, hey, he’s our son and I guess we have a right to boast. I was happy he had an interest in baseball because that was my sport, too. I played baseball all through school and loved it. Growing up in Houston, I followed the Colt .45s, which became the Astros. Got baseball cards, the whole thing.

Anyway, part of our spring, summer, fall entertainment was for the family to take trips to the Jake for a Tribe game. As my son’s interest in baseball blossomed and grew into an obsession, we became ardent fans of the Tribe. Now, mind you, that was easy during those years when the players were Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Sandy Alomar, Roberto Alomar, Charles Nagy and loads of other notable and exceptional players. Got to go to World Series games in 1995 and 1997.

I know that many years ago it appeared that if you were a fan of a team, you tended to be a fan of your home team — the team that was closest to where you lived. But now, fans follow teams across the globe, so I don’t feel bad a moment because I am a fan of the Cleveland Indians, even though I live in the shadow of the Texas Rangers.

It’s an aura, it’s a feeling you get when you walk through the turnstile and take your seat. When I was in college at Michigan State, a fellow student and I went to a Tigers game in Detroit. All through the game, he kept mentioning “the ghost of Ty Cobb hovering over 2nd base.” I’ve never forgotten that. At the Jake, it was the stadium mustard, Great Lakes Brewing company beer, occasional fireworks, Slider the mascot, and mostly time with family and friends. And, it was Bob Feller, the past Hall of Fame fast-baller that everyone loved, the players, whether they were the powerhouses, the up-and-comers, the has-beens, I loved the entire atmosphere of the Tribe and Jacobs Field.

Today, while my son and I don’t have MLB Extra Innings on cable to watch ALL the Tribe games, we take delight when we can. Like last night. After an hour rain delay, the Tribe took on the Bosox and beat them in the late innings. This reminded JD and me of the ’95 season when the Indians won a hearty portion of their games in the later innings. What excitement, what joy!

I am truly glad the Tribe is off to such a good … and completely unexpected … start this season. I hope they continue to enjoy the fruits of hard labor. Go Tribe!