Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 29: League Park in Cleveland

On June 17, 2009, we got to Cleveland a little early, so we took the time to drive a few miles out of the way to see League Park. The parked opened in 1891 as the home of the National League Cleveland Spiders. It served as their home from 1891 through 1899 when the team was dissolved following a 20-134 record losing season. In 1901 the American League Cleveland Indians were formed and used League Park from 1901 through 1946. They played night and weekend games at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium from 1934 through 1946 before making the switch to all games at that stadium, which was shared with the football team.

Not much remains of League Park, but it was a worthy baseball historical place to visit. The ticket office building and the wall for the first base grandstand is all that is left of League Park. The interesting thing, though, is that the field is still a public park, so while the structure of the park is gone the field aspect can still easily be imagined. The grassy park area is not in that great of condition, but it is better than there just being a home plate plaque for a gone park that has a mall (Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis) or parking lot (Comiskey Park in Chicago) on top of the site now. The way it remains a grassy park makes it retain its spirit of being a ballpark despite its deteriorating state.

Most interesting about the Park is the Ohio Historical Marker plaque that tells about some of the highlight things that occurred at the park. The historical aspect of the park began with the first game in 1891 with Cy Young pitching for the Cleveland Spiders win over the Cincinnati Redlegs. In 1908 Addie Joss threw a perfect game at League Park. In 1915 the Washington Senators stole a record 8 bases in one inning at League Park. In 1920 League Park was where Bill Wambsganss executed the first and only unassisted triple play in Word Series history. Also, in that World Series game Elmer Smith hit the first World Series grand slam and Kim Bagby was the first pitcher to hit a homer in a World Series. League Park was also the site of Babe Ruth’s 500th home run in 1929 when he hit it over the right field wall. There is several more historic moments from this park on the League Park Society’s website here.

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