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Road to fandom knows no end

Road to fandom knows no end

Wynn Alexander can trace his love of Tribe baseball back to the 1950s.

"When I was 13 years old, I cut school to watch the Indians play the Giants in the [1954] World Series," said Alexander, now 66. "They lost in four straight. But their No. 2 pitcher behind Bob Lemon was Early Wynn -- W-y-n-n.

"I saw him pitch his heart out."

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Wynn's performance cinched it for Alexander. He officially fell in love with the Indians that day, and he made Early Wynn his hero.

How much did Alexander revere Wynn?

Put it this way. Alexander changed his first name from Winfield to Wynn, a salute to a pitcher whose work he admired.

"My CPA certificate and everything is W-y-n-n," he said.

But Alexander, president of DeSoto Land. Co. in Lucedale, Miss., has shown his love for Indians baseball in more than his name. He's sprinkled that love for the Tribe throughout southeastern Mississippi.

Take a ride through subdivisions in George and Harrison counties, and you'll run into reminders of Indians baseball everywhere. Alexander has street after street named for players who've worn the Indians' uniform.

All the players on the '54 team, including Early Wynn, have streets named for them in Harrison County.

"That's right," Alexander said. "I don't think I missed a one of 'em."

His latest project is to plaster the names of current Indians on a subdivision he and his company are developing in George County, a region in the southeast corner of Mississippi and not far from the Gulf of Mexico.

He'll be naming a street for Grady Sizemore, Ryan Garko, Travis Hafner and others on the '08 Indians. The current players will join the roster of other former and retired Indians whose names are peppered on street signs in the Deep South.

Alexander's effort to honor his favorite Major League team didn't get an ounce of resistance from county supervisors in the region. Most of them, Alexander said, don't have a clue whom Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia and Early Wynn are.

A few years ago, he said, one of his surveyors called and told him that a subdivision the company was developing was ready, but the surveyor needed a name for the subdivision and for nine streets.

He told Alexander that if they didn't get that information to the county within the day, they'd have to wait another month.

"No problem," Alexander said he told the surveyor. Alexander offered Indian Hills as a subdivsion name, then "I went right down the batting order. That was the '97 Indians, and I started off with [Kenny] Lofton and went right on through 'em."

Alexander, a retired certified public accountant, said he hasn't just named streets for Indians players. He's got streets in subdivisions he has developed named for tennis stars Jimmy Connors and Stefan Edberg and for NASCAR icons Rusty Wallace, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon among others.

"But I always keep coming back to the Cleveland Indians," he said.

He can't distance himself, even if he were to try (and he won't), from the memories that he's clung to from his adolescence. He loved the Indians in '54, and his love for them hasn't waned over the years, though the decades of bad baseball in the 1960s, '70s and '80s might have tested that love affair.

Alexander has shared with his grandchildren his love of all things Cleveland Indians. They can be seen around the area in Sizemore jerseys.

"My heart is into developing land," said Alexander, who co-owns a timber company with a friend who is a Red Sox fan. "We keep on doing it, and I just keep on naming streets and building streets. I try to make 'em so the Indians would be proud of 'em, you know."

Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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