Muscle Sport Magazine

Super Joe Charboneau Wins AL ROY Award – TDI Baseball 1980

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They call it the ‘Sophomore Jinx,’ and it bit a budding star right in the backside and eventually resulted in a model case of ‘what if?’ But before that unfortunate order of events took place, “Super” Joe Charboneau won the American League Rookie of the Year Award on this day in baseball back in 1980.

The Cleveland Indians were a moribund franchise playing in the cavernous Municipal Stadium, better known as the “Mistake By the Lake.” They wallowed in the ‘second division’ in the ultra-competitive American League East at that time and were in desperate need of a spark. Enter a young outfielder who tore up the AA level the prior summer and found himself promoted to the big leagues a year early due to an injury to slugger Andre Thornton.

The left fielder/designated hitter was an immediate hit with the fans, dying his hair and drinking beer through his nostrils. Even a song named “Go Joe Charboneau” was released locally and landed on the charts. The Illinois native finished with a .289 batting average with 23 home runs and 87 RBI. Although the Tribe finished two games under .500 and in sixth place, Charboneau took home the AL ROY Award and appeared to be on his way to a successful career.

Things began to go wrong for him the following spring when he sustained a back injury during spring training in 1981. Charboneau toughed it out, but his performance suffered greatly. The players ended up going on strike and when they returned in August, Charboneau and his .208 average was sent to AAA to try and get him straightened out. He didn’t hit well in Charleston, but was recalled after a few weeks, anyway, and had a paltry .201/4/18 for the season.

Offseason back surgery did not seem to help, as Charboneau struggled again to start the 1982 campaign and was shipped back to AAA and even AA, but could not break out of his ongoing slump. He underwent a second back surgery that winter and was eventually released from the Indians’ AAA roster during the 1983 season. He toiled in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization a year later but was unable to have any success above the AA level, resulting in Charboneau retiring at the young age of 29.

Since then, he tried his hand at acting, playing one of the New York Knights in “The Natural,” sports management, radio host and coaching and managing at the collegiate level and in the professional Independent League circuit.

In 2020, Charboneau suffered a stroke, but was reported to have recovered.


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