Rocky Colavito (born August 10, 1933 in New York, NY) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder (primarily playing right field, but also at the other outfield positions, as well as a small number of games as a pitcher and first baseman) and right-handed batter who played for the Cleveland Indians (1955-59, 1965-67), Detroit Tigers (1960-63), Kansas City Athletics (1964), Chicago White Sox (1967), Los Angeles Dodgers (1968) and New York Yankees (1968).
Colavito made himself a complete player, slamming 30-plus homers in seven seasons as a high run-producing slugger and a superb rightfielder with a strong arm.
In 1958 Colavito batted .303 with 41 home runs and 113 runs batted in. One year later he became the first Indian to have two 40-HR seasons; his 42 tied him with Harmon Killebrew for the American League lead. The same season he smashed four homers in consecutive at-bats in a single game. In 1965 he played in 162 consecutive errorless games (274 total chances) for a perfect 1.000, a MLB season record. In 1968, Colavito, while playing for the New York Yankees, became the last person with more than 350 career homers to be credited as the winning pitcher in a game.
In his 1,841-game career, Colavito batted .266, with 374 HRs, 1,159 RBI, 971 runs scored, 1,730 hits, 283 doubles and 21 triples. As a rightfielder, he posted numbers of 3223 putouts, 123 assists, 26 double plays, committed only 70 errors in 3516 total chances for a .980 of fielding percent average.
Just before the 1960 season, Indians general manager Frank Lane traded Colavito, the defending American League home run champion, to the Detroit Tigers for Harvey Kuenn, who had won the previous season's batting average title. The trade proved to be a good one for the Tigers but a terrible one for the Indians, whose fans lost their most popular player and best hitter. In 1965, with Gabe Paul running the team, Colavito, now with the Chicago White Sox, was brought back. But to obtain the slugger, Paul had to send the White Sox pitcher Tommy John, who would play until 1989 and win 286 games after the trade, and Tommie Agee, who won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1966 with the White Sox, then became the New York Mets' top hitter in 1969 as they won their first pennant. During Game 3 of the 1969 World Series, Agee made two sensational catches to spark the team to a stunning upset of the highly favored Baltimore Orioles.
In 1994, Terry Pluto, who covered the Indians for the Cleveland Plain Dealer in the 1980s and become the top sports columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal, published The Curse of Rocky Colavito, a book that tried to explain why the Indians had not so much as come within 11 games of first place since 1959. His explanation was that the trade of Colavito in 1960 sent the team on a path to mediocrity that lasted more than three decades, also suggesting that the trade to bring Colavito back was as bad as the one that sent him away.
When the Indians won the pennant in 1995, Pluto wrote a sequel, Burying the Curse. The Indians also won the pennant in 1997, but lost the World Series both times, the second time after needing just two more outs in Game 7 to win. Pluto wrote Our Tribe, a history of the team, published in 1999, insisting that the curse was still on. Through the 2005 season, the Indians have not won another pennant, and have not won the World Series sine 1948.