CLEVELAND - When the public address announcer at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, announces the lineup for the hometown team, the names echo off the concrete and steel of the ballpark and wash over the thousands of fans who have settled in for a game of baseball.
Among those fans taking in the sounds and sights of Major League baseball is a Cleveland Indian who has been with the team longer than most of the players have been breathing. For 56 years, Bob DiBiasio has worn the insignia of the Cleveland Indians. The popular senior vice president in charge of public affairs for the Indians organization is a popular figure, not only in baseball but around Cleveland.
He was the kid who grew up in suburban Lakewood who played baseball through high school and later in college. During those college years, when he studied journalism, DiBiasio knew he wanted to be in Major League baseball. "All my buddies in the fraternity house during my freshman year will tell you that as we talked about what we wanted to do in life, I wanted to be the P.R. man for the Cleveland Indians," said DiBiasio.
He offered his thoughts on what is nicknamed the homerun porch of the Indians' Progressive Field. While the team was on the field, DiBiasio beamed. During the interview, fans who recognized him pushed through the crowd to shake his hand. "How ya doin?," DiBiasio would ask as he chatted in friendly manner to anyone who extended a hand.
Thirty-five years with the Indians. Really 36 in the Majors. There was that one year with the Atlanta Braves when he worked in that team's public relations area. DiBiasio usually covers that year quickly in his interviews because it was Cleveland which always held his heart.
So much so, as a youngster, he was a vendor in the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. "I always vended peanuts because I just sat behind the dugout to get a good seat to watch the game," he laughed. "I wasn't very entrepreneurial."
Had he had the ability to hit baseballs at the Major League levels, he would have been a ballplayer. But ballplayers have relatively short careers. Very few see 36 years in the Majors and 35 of them with one team. For Bob DiBiasio, he is a power hitter in every way.