Mr. Ocker:

A few weeks ago, 60 Minutes did a story on the guy who served decades in prison for setting fire to the Pioneer Hotel (in Tucson).

I am a Johnny-come-lately Indians fan; jumped on the bandwagon in 1992. What’s the scoop on the hotel and the Indians’ connection to it? It looks like it might have been a pretty seedy joint.

Tom Sacco

Des Moines, Iowa

Dear Tom:

Seedy, indeed. The Pioneer Hotel in downtown Tucson was THE place to be from its opening in 1929 into the 1960s. The 11-story hotel had the largest ballroom in the country (according to the now-defunct Tucson Citizen).

The Indians began their long spring-training tenure in Tucson in 1947 (through 1992) and stayed at the Pioneer for many years, and in the latter years of the hotel’s existence, the Tribe’s minor-leaguers were housed there.

In 1970, a fire in the hotel took 29 lives (deadliest ever in Arizona, according to Wikipedia), and a 16-year-old “delinquent,” as Louis Cuen Taylor was described, was convicted of arson and murder and sentenced to life in prison.

He was housed at Lewis State prison in Buckeye, adjacent to the city of Goodyear, where the Tribe currently conducts training camp.

The hotel closed in 1974 and was renovated as an office building in 1977, its current use. It also is alleged to be haunted.

Taylor never stopped proclaiming his innocence, and there were many who took up his cause. Evidence was slim, and there was even doubt that arson caused the fire.

Finally late last month, a deal was struck: Taylor would plead no contest, and his sentence would be limited to time served. He walked out of prison April 1 at age 59.

Sheldon Ocker


Let’s see two games 2 wins, ONE BLOWN SAVE (already)!

You predicted 80-some wins. I hope you figured in blown saves by Chris Perez, because every time he pitches there are base runners EVERYWHERE!

Tom McCallum

Cuyahoga Falls

Dear Tom:

Yes, there are runners everywhere except crossing home plate.

Perez blew his first save in 2012 but finished with 39 in 43 chances. He’s converted 90 percent since 2010. If you think the Indians can get someone better, it’s your duty to contact Chris Antonetti immediately and give him a name. Then call the hall of fame.