Indians' season of giving continues at holiday

Club hosts Thanksgiving feast at Progressive Field for those less fortunate

Indians' season of giving continues at holiday

CLEVELAND -- As winter threatened and some snowflakes floated down towards the outfield grass, a section of dormant Progressive Field was warm with activity Sunday afternoon. Children chased mascots and families sat down to share a meal, while overlooking the Indians' home field.

It has been a season of giving for the Indians, who captured an American League Central title and AL pennant in a memorable year for the franchise. With the holiday season here, the team also wanted to continue giving back to its community with a Thanksgiving feast at the ballpark.

The Tribe hosted several local organizations for the annual event.

"I just think it's great. We've brought different groups here each year," said Richard Frank, the CEO of OhioGuidestone. "These are people who never had jobs before who are really trying to better themselves, and I'm quite certain they've never seen anything like this."

The Indians had nearly 350 people from OhioGuidestone, Our Lady of the Wayside, Shoes and Clothes for Kids, City Mission and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland on hand for the Thanksgiving dinner. Team president Chris Antonetti and other members of the front office -- including general manager Mike Chernoff -- joined in with their families to help host and serve the groups in attendance.

Tribe pitcher Josh Tomlin and his wife, Carlie, were also behind the buffet line to help serve the guests.

"This community's given a lot to me over the course of my years here in Cleveland," Tomlin said. "For me to be able to kind of give back and help them in a time of need, it's kind of a no-brainer for me. You always want to get involved in some sort of charities or some kind of foundations to kind of help people out, and I'm fortunate enough to do that today. It's nice to be able to give back."

Tomlin was quick to mention the Larry Doby Youth Fund that was created by manager Terry Francona, the players and staff this year. The coaches, players and others throughout the organization combined to generate a $1 million donation to help jump-start the fund, which will assist underserved youth in the city of Cleveland. The team announced the project during its postseason run.

"This year as a whole has been pretty special for everybody," Tomlin said. "Not just what we were able to do on the field, but what we did off the field."

The dinner included a mix of traditional Thanksgiving staples.

The Tomlin family manned the stuffing and sliced ham. There was turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, veggies and an assortment of desserts. The Tribe's mascot, Slider, made the rounds, along with the team's three Hot Dog mascots. During the afternoon, a group of children picked up instruments and put on a brief show for the families.

The Terrace Club at Progressive Field was transformed into a Thanksgiving dining room with a view.

"It's something that we've done for a number of years," Antonetti said. "This event is one of many that we try to do to support and give back to the community. We recognize how fortunate we are to be in the Cleveland community and to have that opportunity to give back and celebrate Thanksgiving with a number of different groups of people, and create that environment here at Progressive Field, is pretty cool.

"Hopefully, we were able to provide them with a special Thanksgiving moment here at the ballpark and create some memories that they can look back on."

It made for another memorable day in a year filled with them for the Indians.

"It's so terrific," Frank said. "I just can't wait for next year now."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.