Saturday, July 10, 2021

We once took a (failed) excursion through the woods to meet Cleveland Indians second basemen Duane Kuiper

I recently had coffee with my buddy Ann Marie. She was the one who forwarded the initial email that led to me interviewing for and accepting my new position at Goodyear. I start there in two short days and will be forever grateful to her for sending me the opportunity (the coffee I bought her doesn't even begin to repay her adequately).

Ann Marie lives in the Big Turtle condominium complex in Willoughby. When many of those condos were being built in the late 70s, my friends and I used to play in and around the semi-constructed buildings all the time.

As I related to Ann Marie, the most famous Big Turtle resident back then was a man by the name of Duane Kuiper, who played second base for my beloved Cleveland Indians. For decades, most pro athletes in Cleveland have lived on the west side of town, so it was exciting that at least one of them chose to live out in our area.

Kuiper played for the Tribe through the 1981 season, so I'm guessing it was probably 1979 or 1980 when my friends and I got it in our heads that we were going to walk to the Big Turtle condos and meet him.

To get there, you had to go through Douglas Woods, a several-acre plot of trees and trails where we hung out quite a bit, and which sadly no longer exists. At some point when you walked through the woods, you crossed the border from Wickliffe into Willoughby.

I remember emerging from the woods on the Willoughby side next to the western-most Big Turtle condos, and only then did it occur to us that:

(a) We had no idea exactly where Duane Kuiper lived. There were/are two large Big Turtle complexes, and we lacked even the first clue where his condo was located.

(b) We also had no idea what we were going to do once we got there. Knock on the door? Throw stones at his window until he came out? And would he even be home?

We simply hadn't considered any of this in our feeble 10-year-old minds until we actually got to our destination.

Our solution was simply to give up, play in the woods, and throw rocks at each other, which we used to do all the time.

We never did meet Duane Kuiper, but I'm guessing we had more fun in the woods that day anyway.


  1. 1. My favorite player from that era.
    2. I honestly had a reoccuring dream where I became his foster son.
    3. I have heard rumors since though that people have met him in supermarkets and such and he is, apparently, less than gracious on those occasions.

    1. That is a strange recurring dream, but an amusing one! As far as people who have met him, I've heard mostly positive things. But really, good or bad, I never judge celebrities by singular interactions with them, only because they're people, too, and none of us are 100% gracious and on top of our politeness game 24/7.

  2. Just told him this story and he got a kick out of it!
    -Kuip's son

    1. Cole: I'm so sorry I never saw this comment! That's outstanding! Your dad was (and is) a legend around here and always will be. I hope he's doing well.