We’re celebrating our 40th year. Did you know ball players didn’t always have numbers? I didn’t either.

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Top left and center: Eddie Gaedel, the shortest player ever to take an at-bat in the majors sporting his number ⅛. Bottom left:An early portrait of Babe Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1914, 1012 photo of popular Cleveland catcher Paddy Livingston. Far right: 1995 Jim Thome #25 Game-Worn Road Jersey that sold at auction for $600.

We’re so pleased to be celebrating our 40th year with you, we thought we’d give you some summertime baseball and Tribe “number trivia” to celebrate:

  • The first time a Major League baseball team to wear numbers was on this day, June 26, 1916 by our very own Cleveland Indians. Inspired by football and hockey’s use of numbers, the Tribe trotted on their home field wearing large numbers on their left sleeves. This “experiment” was tried for a few weeks, again the next season, and then abandoned.
  • 1923, the St. Louis Cardinals adopted uniform numbers on their sleeves. However, as then-manager Branch Rickey recalled, the Cardinals’ players were “subjected to field criticism from the stands and especially from opposing players,” – so the numbers were removed.
  • In 1929, the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians were planning to start the season with uniform numbers on the back of their jerseys. The Yankees were rained out on opening day, while the Indians played, making Cleveland the first MLB franchise to wear numbers on their back. (The Yankees debuted their numbered jerseys the following day.)
  • The first MLB game to feature both teams wearing numbers on their jerseys was the game between the Indians and the Yankees on May 13, 1929.
  • By the mid-1930s, all MLB teams wore numbers; in 1937 the Philadelphia Athletics finally began wearing numbers on both home and away jerseys, making numbers a universal trait in the MLB.
  • The original baseball numbers were based on the lineup. The starting players would be numbered 1-8, based on their spot in the order. The backup catcher would be number 9, and the pitchers would wear 10-14 (but not 13, as that is superstitious). Notable examples of this system are teammates Babe Ruth (he was number 3 and batted third for the Yankees) and Lou Gehrig (number 4, batted fourth).
  • In the late 1930s, the 1938 and 1939 Pittsburgh Pirates tried standardizing number assignments by position. Under the Bucs’ experiment, pitchers were assigned numbers in the forties and fifties; catchers, coaches and managers in the thirties; infielders in the twenties; and outfielders in the teens.
  • Numbers 1-14 are usually only worn by position players, while numbers 50 and above are more likely to be worn by pitchers.
  • Numbers 60 and above are rarely worn in the regular season. During spring training, such high numbers are often given to players who are unlikely to make the regular-season team. It is generally thought that the higher the number, the less chance of making the team.
  • Many players grow emotionally attached to a number. When a player switches teams, his number is often already in use. Since the MLB allows number changes at any time, bribes occur for numbers. Among the most outrageous was when Brian Jordan joined the Atlanta Braves and gave then-third base coach Fredi González a $40,000 motorcycle for #33
  • When Rickey Henderson joined the Toronto Blue Jays he paid Turner Ward $25,000 for Henderson’s long-time career #24.
  • Not every player pays top dollar for his number; when Mitch Williams joined the Philadelphia Phillies, he bought #28 from John Kruk for $10 and two cases of beer.
  • In 1951, independent ball player Johnny Neves wore the number 7 backwards because “Neves” spelled backwards is “seven”
  • Eddie Gaedel, the dwarf who made one plate appearance for the St. Louis Browns, wore the number ⅛.
  • Joe Girardi, in his managerial role with the Yankees, wore #27 to signify his desire to lead the team to their 27th championship. After winning the 2009 World Series, he subsequently switched to #28.
  • In 1997, Major League Baseball, for the first time ever, made a Major League-wide retirement of a number. Number 42 cannot be issued to any new players, having been retired in honor of Jackie Robinson.

And here’s a couple trivia question for you – what number did I wear playing sports (hint – it’s between 7 and 9) and what number do MLB “power hitters” wear – and why? If you know, give me a call and I’ll send you one of our KHT jerseys.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the history trivia!



Dad, Church and Our Sunday Morning Breakfast Table

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Honoring All Dads on Father’s Day

For me, Father’s Day is a special day, not only was I lucky enough to work alongside my Dad and learn the ins and outs of the business, I also got to experience a very special tradition growing up, Sunday Morning Breakfast. In our house, Sundays were all about family time. We rose early, all went to church (a topic for another post…18 in our family), and then returned home for a big breakfast. Dad would run the stove and cook all our favorites: eggs, bacon, pancakes, sausage gravy, pierogis, crepes, and my personal favorite, ground meat on toast. Breakfast seemed like it lasted for hours, as my brothers and sisters and I could eat and eat! We laughed, poked and joked together, telling our tales and events of the week, as my Dad held court watching over us. I remember how proud he would be watching us all spend time together just being one big crazy family and I have been blessed to be able to carry on this tradition with my daughters as well.

This Father’s Day, enjoy time with your family, and if the kids are around, cook ‘em breakfast and let the magic of being Dad, and family, happen in your house.



KHT Heat Style Slow Cooked Ribs

A job worth doing is worth doing well. Especially if it’s a PIA (Pain in the @%$) Job!

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At Kowalski Heat Treating, there’s two things we love –  thermal processing and great food.  And for me there’s simply nothing as tasty two step char-grilled ribs.  The secret, like many of the jobs we have here, is slow cookin’.  Here’s a recipe we love.  It’s a bit of work – what you may consider a PIA (Pain in the @%$) Job – but believe me, well worth it.  Serve with potato salad and a cold beverage like lemonade or your favorite Cleveland-based Great Lakes beer.

Give ’em a try, and then send me a note or call me on Monday and let me know how they turned out. And if you have a favorite barbecue sauce, please pass it along.


Servings: 8

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 pounds baby back pork ribs (8 racks) or St. Louis-style spareribs (4 racks)
  • Low-salt chicken broth (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade barbecue sauce (try ketchup, few tablespoons of honey, Franks Hot Sauce and a good splash of Italian Salad Dressing


Prep: 20 min total: 2½ – 3½ hrs

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Place each rack of ribs on a double layer of foil; generously sprinkle rub all over ribs. Wrap each racks individually and place on baking sheets – ok to use more than one sheet.
  • Bake the ribs until very tender but not falling apart, about 2 hours for baby backs and 3 hours for spareribs. Carefully unwrap ribs; pour any juices from foil into a 4-cup heatproof measuring cup; reserve juices. Let ribs cool completely. DO AHEAD: Ribs can be baked up to 3 days ahead (the flavor will be more developed, and the cold ribs will hold together better on the grill as they heat through). Cover and chill juices. Rewrap ribs in foil and chill.
  • Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Add broth or water to rib juices, if needed, to measure 1 1/2 cups. Whisk in barbecue sauce to blend.
  • Grill ribs, basting with barbecue sauce mixture and turning frequently, until lacquered and charred in places and heated through, 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board; cut between ribs to separate. Transfer to a platter and serve with additional barbecue sauce.



What Is Your Quest?

Sharing Our 40th Year Anniversary with Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Forty years ago, dad had a simple vision. Seizing on his belief that a small group of hard working men and women could provide a new level of heat treating innovation, science and service to northeast Ohio manufacturers, he set out on a new quest, something “completely different”, launching his own company focused on solving customer problems. Today, Kowalski Heat Treating continues this tradition by continuing to provide innovation and problem solving for our customers PIA (Pain in the @$%) Jobs!

Also in 1975, a small team of British comedians decided to “try something different” by launching their second feature length movie, based on their surreal BBC comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus, written and performed by its members Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. The movie was called, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and launched the zany comedy troupe in the US. Loosely structured around King Arthur’s court, but with a silly approach, it pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in comedy and movies.

How many of you remember the scenes – Knight’s riding on imaginary horses, throwing a cow over the castle wall, the Knight’s of Ni, the airspeed velocity of a ….. (you know!), the Holy Hand Grenade and the forever famous Black Knight. Monty Python went on to write and produce numerous ground breaking shows, movies and comedy sketches.

For fun, leave me a voice message at 216-631-4411 and tell me your favorite Monty Python character/skit/movie line or scene – I’ll listen to all of them, and award a few winners a brand new KHT “Holy Grail” Coffee Mug.