A few months ago, I did a #ThrowbackThursday post on Instagram dedicated to Cleveland’s baseball roots and the Tribe’s first home, League Park. I figured it’d be the perfect time to copy and paste an excerpt from that post.
In 1887, a professional baseball team was organized here and that team built a new park on 39th & Payne.. In 1890, the park was struck by lightening and much of it was destroyed by fire. The Cleveland Spiders finished out their season in the partially destroyed park and built a new, improved park at 66th & Lexington, it’s known to some baseball historians as League Park I. It was a wooden structure with seating for 9,000. Frank Robison (owner) and his brother had financial interests in the local traction company so they built their park where their street car lines intersected. In 1899, the Robisons took their talents (and most of the Spiders’ talents) to St. Louis and the Cleveland team was eliminated from the National League. In 1901, however, they joined their current home, the American League and 10 years later, League Park was destroyed and rebuilt with accommodations for 21,000. League Park was home to the Spiders, Cleveland Naps, Cleveland Buckeyes (Negro League), Cleveland Indians and a practice field for the Cleveland Browns at one point. It was purchased by the city in 1950 with intent to turn it into a recreational area. The park is on the National Register of Historic Places
and is NOW undergoing a $6 Million renovation.
Today, the Park became the first professional baseball field to be converted in to community use, as the field will host the city’s recreational league games, as well as home games for Rhodes and Lincoln West’s high school baseball teams.
The field also will be available for rent for private groups at a rate of $1,000 for six hours.
The refurbished park includes a new artificial turf baseball field designed to League Park’s original dimensions, including a 460-foot span from home plate to the center field wall, and a 45-foot-high right field fence. The park also features a museum, a walking track, a community room and the historic ticket house has been refurbished.
Pictures of the aforementioned, as well as highlights from today’s appearance by the Cleveland Blues vintage baseball team and an unveiling of a sculpture of late Cleveland City Councilwoman Fannie M. Lewis, who 20 years ago began the effort to rehab the historic baseball park, can be found below.