A few months ago, I did a #ThrowbackThursday post on Instagram dedicated toCleveland’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.
The Indians had previously held such promotions without incident, beginning with Nickel Beer Day in 1971. However, a bench-clearing brawl in the teams’ last meeting one week earlier at Arlington Stadium in Texas left some Indians fans harboring a grudge against the Rangers.
In Texas, the trouble had started in the bottom of the fourth inning with a walk to the Rangers’ Tom Grieve, followed by a Lenny Randle single. The next batter hit a double play ball to Indians third baseman John Lowenstein; he stepped on the third base bag to retire Grieve and threw the ball to second base, but Randle disrupted the play with a hard slide into second baseman Jack Brohamer.
The Indians retaliated in the bottom of the eighth when pitcher Milt Wilcox threw behind Randle’s legs. Randle eventually laid down a bunt. When Wilcox attempted to field it and tag Randle out (which he did successfully), Randle hit him with his forearm. Indians first baseman John Ellis responded by punching Randle, and both benches emptied for a brawl. After the brawl was broken up, as Indians players and coaches returned to the dugout, they were struck by food and beer hurled by Rangers fans; catcher Dave Duncan had to be restrained from going into the stands to brawl with fans.
The game was not suspended or forfeited, no players from either team were ejected, and the Rangers won 3-0.
After the game, a Cleveland reporter asked Rangers manager Billy Martin “Are you going to take your armor to Cleveland?” to which Martin replied “Naw, they won’t have enough fans there to worry about.” During the week leading up to the teams’ next meeting in Cleveland, sports radio talk show host Pete Franklin and Indians radio announcer Joe Tait made comments that fueled the fans’ animosity toward the Rangers. In addition,The Plain Dealer printed a cartoon the day of the game showing Chief Wahoo holding a pair of boxing gloves with the caption “Be ready for anything.”
Six days after the brawl in Texas, Cleveland’s Ten Cent Beer Night promotion drew 25,134 fans to Cleveland Stadium for the Indians/Rangers game, twice the number expected.
The Rangers quickly took a 5-1 lead. Meanwhile, throughout the game, the inebriated crowd grew more and more unruly. Early in the game, Cleveland’s Leron Lee hit a line drive into the stomach of Rangers pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, after which Jenkins dropped to the ground. Fans in the upper deck of the stadium cheered, then chanted “Hit ’em again! Hit ’em again! Harder! Harder!” A woman ran out to the Indians’ on-deck circle and flashed her breasts, and a naked man sprinted to second base as Grieve hit his second home run of the game. One inning later, a father and son pair ran onto the outfield and mooned the fans in the bleachers.
As the game progressed, more fans ran onto the field and caused problems. Ranger Mike Hargrove, who would later manage the Indians and lead them to the World Series twice in 1995 and 1997, was pelted with hot dogs and spit,and at one point was nearly struck with an empty gallon jug of Thunderbird.
The Rangers later argued a call in which Lee was called safe in a close play at third base, spiking Jenkins with his cleats in the process and forcing him to leave the game. The Rangers’ angry response to this call enraged Cleveland fans, who again began throwing objects onto the field. Someone tossed lit firecrackers into the Rangers’ bullpen.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Indians managed to rally, tying the game 5-5, and had Rusty Torres on second base representing the potential winning run. However, with a crowd that had been consuming as much beer as it couldfor nine innings, the situation finally came to a head.
After the Indians had managed to tie the game, a fan ran onto the field and attempted to steal Texas outfielder Jeff Burroughs’ cap. Confronting the fan, Burroughs tripped. Thinking that Burroughs had been attacked, Texas manager Billy Martin charged onto the field with his players right behind, some wielding bats. A large number of intoxicated fans – some armed with knives, chains, and portions of stadium seats that they had torn apart – surged onto the field, and others hurled bottles from the stands. Hundreds of fans surrounded the outnumbered Rangers.
Realizing that the Rangers’ lives might be in danger, Indians’ manager Ken Aspromonte ordered his players to grab bats and help the Rangers, attacking the team’s own fans in the process.Rioters began throwing steel folding chairs, and Cleveland relief pitcher Tom Hilgendorf was hit in the head by one of them. Hargrove, involved in a fistfight with a rioter, had to fight another on his way back to the Texas dugout. The two teams retreated off the field through the dugouts in groups, with players protecting each other.
The bases were pulled up and stolen and many rioters threw a vast array of objects including cups, rocks, bottles, batteries from radios, hot dogs, popcorn containers, and folding chairs. As a result, umpire crew chief Nestor Chylak, realizing that order would not be restored in a timely fashion, forfeited the game to Texas. He too was a victim of the rioters, as one struck and cut his head with part of a stadium seat and his hand was cut by a thrown rock. He later called the fans “uncontrollable beasts” and stated that he’d never seen anything like what had happened, “except in a zoo”.
As Joe Tait and Herb Score called the riot live on radio, Score mentioned the security guards’ inability to handle the crowd. He said, “Aw, this is absolute tragedy.” The Cleveland Police Department finally arrived to restore order.
Later, Cleveland General Manager Phil Seghi blamed the umpires for losing control of the game. The Sporting News’ wrote that “Seghi’s perspective might have been different had he been in Chylak’s shoes, in the midst of knife-wielding, bottle-throwing, chair-tossing, fist swinging drunks.”
The next Beer Night promotion on July 18 attracted 41,848 fans with beer again selling for 10 cents per cup but with a limit of two cups per purchase. American League president Lee MacPhail commented, “There was no question that beer played a part in the riot.”
June 4, 1974night game
5 – 5
Cleveland StadiumAttendance: 25,134Umpires: HP: Larry McCoy1B: Joe Brinkman2B: Nick Bremigan3B: Nestor Chylak (cc)
We all remember Charles Ramsey speaking to media near the home where missing women Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight were rescued in Cleveland. Ramsey lived next door to where Ariel Castro kept the women in his makeshift prison until that fateful Monday afternoon, when Ramsey happened to be home and heard Amanda Berry’s scream.
Since then, the lives for all involved in this story has changed, Michelle Knight is moving forward and reportedly changing her name. Gina and Amanda offered the public a brief glimpse in to their present state-of-mind as they released statements
I would like to thank all the people who have helped and supported my family and me. You have changed our lives in ways you’ll never know.
On this day, we decided that the right place for us to be was with other families who have gone through what our family has gone through. I want these families to know they will always have a special place in our hearts.
So much has happened this past year. I have grown. I am strong. And I have so much to live for, to look forward to. The future is bright.
I want to thank everyone who donated to the Courage Fund and sent gifts to me. You have made such a difference in my life.
This past year has been amazing, full of healing and hope. I am spending time with my family and working with Amanda on a book that we are really excited about.
I have also been enjoying new experiences, such as learning how to use new technology and how to drive. Thanks for continuing to respect my privacy and that of my family.
Charles Ramsey, who emerged as the hero of the day, has since written a book about the night of May 6, 2013, and his life before and after. It’s called Dead Giveaway (Gray & Co.).
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
The community around Seymour Avenue was tight-knit and self-sufficient. Almost everything you might need could be found within walking distance. Everyone there knew each other’s business. There weren’t very many secrets. This is why I speculate — not accuse, but speculate — that somebody on that street had to know that something was going on in Ariel Castro’s house.
Ariel obviously was a genius monster, but to carry out the so-far crime of the century for 12 goddamn years without anyone knowing just stretches the limits of believability.
But I’m not saying it’s impossible.
Ariel was, at least on the outside, the ideal neighbor. He went to work every day, cut his grass, brought his garbage cans in, fixed his cars, painted his porch, and kept to himself.
One of the guys in the neighborhood, Juan Perez, told ABC News, “Everyone thought he was a great guy.”
I can look back with 20/20 hindsight and realize there were several clues that something really odd was going on.
When we had those barbeques, Ariel would always do his cooking and bring it over to the neighbors’ houses. Neighbors never came onto his property.
I had noticed that Ariel’s windows were boarded up or covered up with plastic. There were no air conditioning units, so you can only imagine how stifling that place would be in the summer. When I asked some of the neighbors why Ariel’s house was boarded up in the summer with no air conditioning, they told me that’s just a Puerto Rican thing, that he liked everything muy caliente. Well, I’ve got plenty of African DNA in me but I would at least want some ventilation in my house. No one ever said, “Hmm, that is odd.”
In the winter, my roomie Shultzie and I once noticed that one of the windows was constantly iced over while others weren’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if that bastard was heating the rooms he was using and freezing the rooms where the girls were kept.
I remember Ariel’s daughter Angie coming over to the house several times. She was one fine-lookin’ babe. I kept my distance since she was Ariel’s daughter and the man code made her ineligible for me. But when Angie would come by, Ariel would take forever to answer the front door. He would then give her some sort of hand signal to go around the back.
Many times Ariel would see me outside and call me over. “Hey, I’ve got this leftover food here — you want it?” he would ask. It looked good to me, so I gladly accepted, appreciative of his generosity. But it turns out he wasn’t being generous — he was using me as a guinea pig. He would sometimes have the girls cook for him, and fearing they might be trying to poison him, he figured he’d better try it out on the nigga next door.
There were dots there, just never connected.
Ariel wasn’t the only secret madman of Seymour Avenue.
After the rescue, the authorities checked out all the neighbors up and down the street. They discovered Elias Acevedo Sr., a registered sex offender who had failed to report his whereabouts to authorities.
Turns out he had raped and murdered his 30-year-old neighbor, Pamela Pemberton, in 1994, and then killed Christina Adkins, a pregnant 18-year-old who disappeared near Seymour in 1995, and stuffed her into a manhole.
While he was in jail, DNA evidence linked him to a rape that had occurred near where Pam’s body was found. He then confessed to the rape and murder of both women, and was sentenced to 445 years in prison without the possibility of parole. That means this rescue has resulted in the solving of five kidnappings and two murders. Not bad for a toothless dishwasher. For my next act, I think I’ll go find Jimmy Hoffa.