Mike Napoli spent only one season with the Cleveland Indians, yet the impact he left on the city and the team’s fan was truly felt Monday night.
The Indians presented Napoli with his American League championship ring after he helped lead the franchise to their first World Series since 2007 and within a game of their first world title since 1948.
The fans showed him some love during an on-field presentation before Napoli and the Texas Rangers opened a four-game series at Progressive Field. He could have done without the pomp and circumstance, and his 2016 season meant far more than just a trip to the Fall Classic.
“Just being able to build relationships with people,” Napoli said. “It was a great year for me, but everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve met people who are going to be with me the rest of my life.
“Everyone looks at the baseball side, but there’s more that goes into it.”
Napoli swatted a 34 home runs and drove in 101 runs, both career-highs, as the Indians rolled to the AL Central championship. He struggled in the postseason, but the Chicago Cubs needed seven games to oust the Indians in the World Series.