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League Park was a baseball stadium located in Cleveland, Ohiomarker. It was home to the National League Cleveland Spiders, the American League Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro American League. It was located at the northeast corner of Lexington Avenue and E. 66th Street.

League Park was opened on May 1, 1891, and sat 9,000 on wooden seats at the time. The Spiders played there until going out of business after a disastrous 20–134 season in 1899 due to having their best players stripped from their roster by an unscrupulous owner. They were replaced the very next year by an entry in the new American League, which was initially a minor league and became a major league a year later. The stadium was rebuilt for the 1910 season, with concrete and steel grandstands, now seating 21,414. The owner renamed the park after himself, so for a while it was called "Dunn Field". After ownership changed hands, the name reverted to the more prosaic "League Park" (there were a number of professional teams' parks called by the generic "League Park" at one time, but in this case the name stuck). The Indians began playing night, holiday and weekend games at the far larger Cleveland Stadiummarker in 1932, although in some years following they played exclusively at League Park. They split games between the two stadiums off and on until the end of the 1946 season. Lights were never installed at League Park, and thus night games were not regularly played there. However, at least one night game was played on July 27th, 1931, between the Homestead Grays and the House of David -- who borrowed the portable lighting system used by the Kansas City Monarchs. For 1947, under the ownership of Bill Veeck, the Indians moved to Cleveland Stadium full-time. League Park became the last stadium used in Major League Baseball never to install permanent lights.

League Park from the air
Because of a need to squeeze the ballfield into the Cleveland street grid, the stadium was rather oddly shaped by modern standards. It was only down the right field line—though batters still had to surmount a fence to hit a home run (by comparison, the Green Monster at Fenway Parkmarker is only high). The fence in left field was only five feet tall, but batters had to hit the ball down the line to hit a home run, and it was fully to the scoreboard in the deepest part of center field. The diamond, situated in the northwest corner of the block, was slightly tilted counterclockwise, making right field not quite as easy a target as Baker Bowlmarker's right field, for example.

After the demise of the Negro American League Cleveland Buckeyes following the 1950 season, League Park was no longer in use as a regular sports venue. Most of the structure was demolished the next year. The Cleveland Browns football team would continue to use the aging facility as a practice field until the late 1960s.

League Park today

Today the site is a public park. A small section of the exterior brick facade (along the first-base side) still stands, as well as the old ticket office behind what was the right field corner. The last remnant of the grandstand, crumbling and presumably unsafe, was taken down ca. 2002 as part of a renovation process to the decaying playground.

The park is currently slated for a massive renovation/rebuild that will restore it to its original state.

A vintage baseball club, the Cleveland Buckeyes, was supposed to begin play at League Park in 2009 but has been stopped as they wait for the money to pay for the new field.

Notable events

Some historic events that took place at League Park include the major league debut of pitching sensation Alta Weiss on October 2, 1907, the Cleveland Indians winning the 1920 World Series, the Cleveland Buckeyes winning the Negro World Series in 1945, and perhaps most famously, it was where baseball legend Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run on August 11, 1929. Cy Young made the first pitch in this stadium in 1891. The first grand slam in a world series, first home run by a pitcher in a world series, the only unassisted triple play (Billy Wambsganss) in a world series to date occurred here, in game five of the 1920 World Series. On July 16, 1941, the final game of Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak occurred here. The streak would be snapped the following night, at Cleveland Stadiummarker.[73453]

Notes

  1. Cleveland Blues Base Ball Club - [1]


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