Archive for the ‘Ohio ballparks’ Category

Mud Hens Former Roost – Ned Skeldon Stadium/Lucas County Stadium

May 10th, 2015

Ned Skeldon Stadium is located at 2901 Key Street in Maumee, Ohio. The ballpark was the home of the International League Toledo Mud Hens from 1965 to 2001.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The ballpark is located in the Lucas County Recreation Center and originally was part of the Lucas County Fairgrounds.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 1955, when the Toledo Mud Hens departed Swayne Field and moved to Wichita, Kansas, Toledo was left without a minor league team. Ned Skeldon, who served as Toledo Vice Mayor and four terms as a Lucas County Commissioner, led the drive to bring minor league baseball back to area and to convert a former racetrack (Fort Miami Park) and football field on the Lucas County Fair Grounds into a minor league facility. The racetrack turned ballpark opened in 1965 as Lucas County Stadium.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The former International League Richmond Virginians moved to Maumee in 1965, thanks in large part to the efforts of Skeldon, and in 1988 Lucas County Stadium was renamed in his honor, just three months prior to his death.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Several Major League franchises were affiliated with the Mud Hens during the team’s years in Maumee. Primarily, the Mud Hens were an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, for 22 seasons from 1967 to 1973 and from 1987 to 2001. Other Major League teams affiliated with the Mud Hens during the team’s years at Skeldon Field include the New York Yankees from 1965 to 1966, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1974 to 1975 (with future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning as manager), the Cleveland Indians from 1976 to 1977, and the Minnesota Twins from 1978 to 1986.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium’s grandstand is uniquely configured because of its past as a racetrack for harness racing.

Front Entrance to Former Fort Miami Park, Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Front Entrance to Former Fort Miami Park, Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Fort Miami Park opened in 1917. It’s grandstand is located along the third base foul line and dates back to at least the 1920’s. In the late 1920’s, Fort Miami Park became the first harness racetrack in the country to feature night racing under electric lights.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

When the ballpark was enclosed for baseball in the mid 1960’s Lucas County added a grandstand behind home plate that wrapped around to the first base.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The break in the grandstand between home plate and third base is somewhat reminiscent of the third base grandstand at Washington’s Griffith Stadium.

Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand at Ned Skeldon Stadium, Maumee, Ohio

Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand at Ned Skeldon Stadium, Maumee, Ohio

Concourse Underneath Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand, Now Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Concourse Underneath Former Fort Miami Park Grandstand, Now Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 2002, the Mud Hens moved eight miles northeast to brand new Fifth Third Field, located at 406 Washington Street in Toledo, Ohio.  In case you were wondering, the name Fifth Third Field is a reference to Fifth Third Bank and the early 1900’s merger of two Cincinnati Banks, Third National Bank and Fifth National Bank.

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

After the Mud Hens departed Ned Skeldon Stadium, the ballpark, as part of the Lucas County Recreation Center complex, has continued to host amateur baseball, as well special events such as Fourth of July Fireworks. Private companies such as Line Drive Sportz have leased the facility and helped provide funds for its upkeep.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium hosted Minor league baseball for 37 seasons. Prior to that, as Fort Miami Park, facility hosted harness racing for 40 years. The good news is Ned Skeldon Stadium does not appear to be in danger any time soon of becoming another lost ballpark.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

If you are a baseball fan in Toledo, be sure to visit not only Ned Skeldon Stadium but also the site of Swayne Field, where the Mud Hens played from 1909 to 1955. The site is now the Swayne Field Shopping Center. Behind the shopping center is one of the oldest ballpark relics still standing in its original spot – a concrete wall that was once the left field wall at Swayne Field. The wall was built in 1909, the year Swayne Field opened, and is located just 10 miles northeast of Ned Skeldon Stadium at the intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street. Swayne Field also is located just two miles northwest of Fifth Third Field.

Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field’s Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Toledo, Ohio

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Toledo’s Swayne Field And Its Century-Old Outfield Wall

May 8th, 2015

Swayne Field was located at the intersection of Monroe Street and Detroit Avenue in Toledo, Ohio. The ballpark opened on July 3, 1909, as the home of the American Association Toledo Mud Hens. The ballpark was named after Noah Swayne, Jr., who purchased the land for the ballpark and leased it to the team.

Postcard “Toledo Ball Park, Toledo, Ohio” (Published by Harry N. Hamm, Toledo, Ohio)

Toledo’s American Association franchise played at Swayne Field through the 1955 season, with the exception of 1914 and 1915 when the team relocated to Cleveland and played at League Park to keep the Federal League from establishing a team in that city. As a replacement for the city baseball fans, the Southern Michigan League Mud Hens played at Swayne Field in 1914.

Toledo’s team was known primarily as the Mud Hens, although the team changed names twice, beginning with the Toledo Iron Men from 1916 to 1918 and the Toledo Sox from 1952 to 1955. Many great ballplayers passed through  future Hall of Famer Casey Stengel who managed the team from 1926 to 1931.

Swayne Field Postcard (Publisher not stated)

Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio, Showing 12,000 Interested Baseball Fans (No Postcard Publisher Stated)

Negro League baseball was played at Swayne Field, including the Negro National League Toledo Tigers in 1923, the Negro American League Toledo Crawfords in 1939 (featuring future Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston), and the United States League Toledo Cubs in 1945 (featuring future Hall of Famer Norman “Turkey” Stearnes). Swayne Field also was the site of many Negro League exhibition games over the years.

Professional Football also was played at Swayne Field. The Ohio League Toledo Maroons played at Swayne Field from 1909 to 1921 and the National Football League Toledo Maroons played there in 1923.

"Wayne Field Base Ball Park Toledo Ohio" Postcard With Error in Name (Published by Boutelle, Toledo, Ohio)

“Wayne Field Base Ball Park Toledo Ohio” Postcard With Error in Name (Published by Boutelle, Toledo, Ohio)

The ballpark was demolished in 1956 to make way for Swayne Field Shopping Center and what was then the largest Kroger store store in the country.

Location of FIrst Base Grandstand, Infield, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Save-A-Lot Grocery Store, Former Koger Store and Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

A McDonald’s Restaurant sits in the former site of right field, just as a different McDonald’s sits in the former site of left field at Baltimore’s old American League Park. St. Ann’s Catholic Church is visible behind Swayne Field’s former right field corner, just as a different St. Ann’s Catholic Church is visible a few blocks from Baltimore’s old American League Park.

Former Site of Right Field, Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Former Site of Right Field, Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The building that comprises the Swayne Field Shopping Center is located in what was once left and center field.

Location of Left Field Grandstand, Left Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Location of Left and Center, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Home plate and the grandstand behind home plate was located mid block on Monroe Street between Detroit Street and former Toledo Terminal Railroad tracks. A Sherwin-Williams store now marks the spot.

Location of Infield Looking Toward Home Plate, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Location of Infield Looking Toward Home Plate, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

First base ran parallel to Monroe Street. Some of the buildings dating to the time of Swayne Field remain near the site on Monroe Street.

Center Field Looking Toward First Base Foul Line, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Center Field Looking Toward First Base Foul Line, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Most remarkable, however, is that a portion of Swayne Field’s original concrete wall remains at the site.

Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner From Detroit Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The concrete wall once enclosed the the ballpark along Detroit Street (the first base foul line) around to Council Street (left and center field).

Swayne Field Opening Day 1909 (Bryan Postcard Company, Bryan, Ohio)

Swayne Field Opening Day 1909 (Bryan Postcard Company, Bryan, Ohio)

The portion of the wall that remains today was once part of the left center field wall, and is located behind the shopping center, parallel to Council Street.

Original Outfield Wall, Center Field, Intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Outfield Wall at Intersection of Detroit Street and Council Street, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

The structure is over one hundred years old and in desperate need of repair.

Hole In Original Left Field Wall (Looking Toward Council Street) Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Hole In Original Left Field Wall (Looking Toward Council Street) Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

How historically significant is the Swayne Field wall? As an actual ballpark relic, the Swayne Field wall is one year older than both Rickwood Field, the oldest former professional ballpark still standing, which opened in August 1910, and the 1910 renovation of League Park in Cleveland (League Park’s ticket house may date to 1909). The wall is three years older than Fenway Park, the oldest Major League ballpark still standing, which opened in 1912. The wall is five years older than the somewhat famous Washington Park Wall, a relic of Brooklyn’s Federal League Tip Tops ballpark, which was constructed in 1914, and Wrigley Field, which opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park, home for the Federal League Chicago Whales. The wall is six years older both Bosse Field, the third oldest professional ballpark still in continuous use, built in 1915, and the remnants of Braves Field, which opened in 1915. Athough Forbes Field was constructed in 1909, the same year as Swayne Field, the outfield wall that remains at the Forbes Field site was built in 1946.

Brooklyn's Washington Park Wall, A Relic of the Federal League Brooklyn Tip Tops, Built in 1914

Brooklyn’s Washington Park Wall, A Relic of the Federal League Brooklyn Tip Tops, Built in 1914 (photo circa 2006, note: a portion of the wall has since been demolished)

All that is left of the Swayne Field wall closest to the left field corner are some of the concrete pillars.

Concrete Pillars From Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Center Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Concrete Pillars From Original Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Center Field, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Pillars of Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Original Concrete Pillars of Outfield Wall, Looking Toward Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Out beyond what was once the left field corner is a brick building that dates back to the time of Swayne Field and is now Burkett Restaurant Supply.

Industrial Building (Currently Burkett Restaurant Supply), Beyond Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

Industrial Building (Currently Burkett Restaurant Supply), Beyond Left Field Corner, Former Site of Swayne Field, Toledo, Ohio

After Swayne Field was demolished, Toledo was without a minor league affiliate from 1956 to 1964. In 1965, the Mud Hens returned to the area, playing in what was then called Lucas County Stadium, a converted race track at the Lucas County Fairgrounds, ten miles southwest of Swayne Field in Maumee, Ohio. Lucas County Stadium was subsequently renamed Ned Skeldon Stadium after the person  who helped bring minor  league baseball back to the Toledo area.

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

Ned Skeldon Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

In 2003 the Toledo Mud Hens left Ned Skeldon Stadium and returned to downtown Toledo, playing in brand new Fifth Third Field located just two miles southeast of the Swayne Field site.

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio, Home Of The Toledo Mud Hens

Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio, Home Of The Toledo Mud Hens

On the Fifth Third Field club level is a display dedicated to the memory of Swayne Field.

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Included in the display is a piece of the original Swayne Field Wall.

Swayne Field Display, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

Swayne Field Display With Piece of Original , Outfield Wall, Fifth Third Field,Toledo, Ohio

If you are a fan of the game and the history of baseball, a stop at Swayne Field Shopping Center is a must, if for no other reason than to see a ballpark relic that is over one hundred years old. There are not many professional baseball stadium structures in the United States older than the Swayne Field wall. The portion that remains is located at the corner of Detroit Street and Council Street.

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Cleveland’s League Park Reborn – If You Renovate It They Will Come

August 26th, 2014

There is good news in Cleveland. The former site of League Park – once home to the National League Cleveland Spiders, the American League Indians, the National Football League Cleveland Rams, and the Negro American League Cleveland Buckeyes – has been preserved and the historical portions of the ballpark that remain have been restored or renovated.

League Park Renovation of Main Ticket Booth 2014

League Park Renovation of Main Ticket Booth 2014

In an earlier post about League Park I reported about what remained at the site as of 2009.

League Park Center Circa 2009

League Park Center Circa 2009

In August 2014, the City of Cleveland completed a renovation process, several years in the making.

Panoramic View of League Park Along Lexington Avenue

Panoramic View of League Park Along Lexington Avenue

The former ticket booth and team administrative offices located at the corner of 66th and Lexington has been restored to its turn of the century beauty.

Detail of Second Floor Window and Brick Renovation, League Park, Cleveland

Detail of Second Floor Window and Brick Work Renovation, League Park, Cleveland

In addition, along Lexington Avenue, the city has installed a forty foot high fence similar to the one that once stood along the back of right field at the time Shoeless Joe Jackson played for the Indians.

Recreation of Right Field Fence League Park Center, From Days When Joeless Joe Jackson Played Right Field

Recreated Right Field Fence League Park Center, From Days When Joeless Joe Jackson Played Right Field

The interior of the former ticket booth and administrative offices also has been renovated.

First Floor Renovation of League Park Main Ticket Booth and Offices

First Floor Renovation of League Park Main Ticket Booth and Offices

Inside the ballpark site is a plaza along the first base side of League Park that helps celebrate the history of the site.

Renovation of First Base Side Plaza

Panoramic Shot of First Base Side Plaza

On the wall where once sat the first base grandstand, the City has placed pictures of notable ballplayers who once played at League Park.

League Park First Base Grand Stand With Pictures of Notable Ballplayers

League Park First Base Grand Stand With Pictures of Notable Ballplayers

The plaza also includes a sidewalk with notable dates in the history of League Park.

League Park First Base Plaza Includes Notable Years in Ballpark's History

League Park First Base Plaza Includes Notable Years in Ballpark’s History

The Ohio Historical Marker that since 1979 sat along Lexington Avenue next to the former ticket booth and administrative offices has been renovated and relocated near the right field corner.

Renovated League Park Historical Marker

Renovated League Park Historical Marker

Located in place of the first base grandstands (a portion of which actually remained at the site until about 2002) is a new one story building.

New Building on Site of Former First Base Grandstand, Indian's Club House, and Dugout

New Building on Site of League Park’s Former First Base Grandstand, Indian’s Club House, and Dugout

The building, and plaza in front of it, mark the site of Cleveland’s dugout and a tunnel that once provided player access to the club house.

Circa 2003 Photo of First Base Grand Stand and Tunnel From Dugout to Club House

Circa 2003 Photo of League Park First Base Grand Stand and Tunnel From Dugout to Club House

The above photo from 2003 shows the location of the dugout steps and clubhouse tunnel.  The photograph below shows the clubhouse tunnel as it existed in 2009.

League Park Tunnel from Home Team Dugout to Club House

League Park Tunnel from Home Team Dugout to Club House

A metal railing now outlines the location of the clubhouse tunnel inside the building constructed on top of the first base grand stand.

Inside View of Building Constructed Atop Dugout and Club House Tunnel

Inside View of Building Constructed Atop Dugout and Club House Tunnel

The window at the center of the building, just to the left of the infield backstop in the picture below, marks the location of the clubhouse tunnel.

Former Location of First Base Grandstand as Seen From Field

Former Location of First Base Grandstand as Seen From Infield

The original infield, which by 2009 had been removed and replaced with just grass, is back in the form of turf.

League Park Infield Circa 2003

League Park Infield Circa 2003

Home plate sits in the same location as it once sat during the time of League Park.

Panoramic of League Park Turf Field

Panoramic of League Park Turf Field

Metal bleachers surround the infield backstop.

Bleachers and Backstop, League Park Field

Bleachers and Backstop, League Park Field

The entrance to League Park along 66th Street includes an iron gate placed in the same spot where countless fans once entered the ballpark during its heyday.

Entrance to League Park on 66th Street

Entrance to League Park on 66th Street

The City of Cleveland has done a wonderful job restoring the first base grandstand outer wall as well.

Renovated Wall Along First Base Side of League Park on 66th Street

Renovated Wall Along First Base Side of League Park on 66th Street

The brickwork of League Park’s outer wall is quite exquisite and was worth saving even apart from the historic nature of League Park.

Detail of League Park Brick Work, First Base Grandstand Outer Wall, 66th Street

Detail of League Park Brick Work, First Base Grandstand Outer Wall, 66th Street

Baseball once again will be played at the corner of Lexington and 66th. The City of Cleveland and the many baseball enthusiasts who helped encouraged League Park’s renovation have done a wonderful service not only for Cleveland fans, but also for fans of the game around the country. I always have felt that League Park was a historic site that any baseball fan traveling to Cleveland should see. Hopefully now with the park’s renovation,  fans from around the country will stop by the corner of Lexington and 66th to see the wonderful gem that is League Park. With apologies to W.P. Kinsella, “if you renovate it, they will come.”

And speaking of Shoeless Joe Jackson, on your visit to League Park, be sure to make a stop at the vacant lot just two blocks East of League Park at 7209 Lexington Avenue.

Vacant Lot at 7209 Lexington Avenue, Site of Shoeless Joe Jackson's Cleveland Home

Vacant Lot at 7209 Lexington Avenue, Site of Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Cleveland Home

On that spot once sat the home of Mr. Jackson, the place where he lived during his time with the Cleveland Indians. If only he had never left Cleveland . . .

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The Coop Has Flown – Cooper Stadium in Columbus, Ohio

May 15th, 2014

Cooper Stadium (“the Coop”) was a minor league baseball ballpark located at 1155 West Mound Street, in Columbus, Ohio.

Night View, Red Bird Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Postcard C.T.Art Colortone, Curt Teeich & Co, W.E. Ayres, Columbus, Ohio

Christened Red Bird Stadium when it was opened on June 3, 1932, the ballpark originally was home to the American Association Columbus Red Birds. The Red Birds were the top minor league affiliate of Branch Rickey’s St. Louis Cardinals. 

Red Bird Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Home of Columbus Base Ball Team, Postcard C.T.Art Colortone, Curt Teeich & Co, W.E. Ayres, Columbus, Ohio

Notable St. Louis Cardinal farm hands who played at Red Bird Stadium include Paul “Daffy” Dean, Joe Garagiola, Harvey Haddix, Max Lanier, Enos Slaughter, Harry Walker, and Sammy Baugh (Football Hall of Fame quarterback for the Washington Redskins).

Exterior, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

When the Red Birds departed Columbus after the 1954 season, local businessman and former Red Bird clubhouse boy Harold Cooper brought an International League franchise to Columbus in 1955. 

Ticket Windows, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

The new team was named the Columbus Jets and the ballpark was renamed Jets Stadium in honor of its new tenant. For the first two seasons, the Jets were an affiliate of the Kansas City Athletics. From 1957 to 1970 they were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Cooper Stadium Dedication Plaques

The name “Jets” was a nod to the city’s notable connections with aviation history, including the Wright Brothers and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Stadium Break Between First Base Grandstand and Souvenir Shop, Cooper Stadium

Professional baseball was not played in Columbus from 1971 to 1976. In 1977, Mr. Cooper, then a Franklin County Commissioner,  brought baseball back to Columbus and a newly-renovated Franklin County Stadium, which opened as the home of the Columbus Clippers. 

1930s Era Concession Stand, Cooper Stadium

The Clippers were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first two seasons at Franklin County Stadium and, from 1979 to 2006, were the AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees. In 2007 and 2008, the Clippers were an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. 

Entrance From Concourse to Sections 107-109, Cooper Stadium

Renovations to the stadium included the addition of sky boxes and a new press box above the grandstand roof.

Mesh Screening Behind Home Plate, With View of Sky Boxes Above Grandstand Roof, Cooper Stadium

The 1930s metal bracing for original grandstand roof was left intact and incorporated into the renovations.

1930's Metal Roof Crossbars, Cooper Stadium

The concourse behind the first and third base sides remained largely in tact as well.

Concourse, Cooper Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

The original wooden grandstand seats were replace with yellow-painted steel and aluminum seats.

Seats Behind Home Plate, Cooper Stadium

In 1984, the ballpark was renamed Cooper Stadium, in honor of Mr. Cooper, who also served as President of the International League from 1978 to 1990.

View of Infield, Cooper Stadium, From Behind Home Plate

The dugouts at Cooper Stadium were true dugouts, placing the players on the dugout bench at eye level with the playing surface.

Cooper Stadiums Truly Dug Out Dugout

Fans sitting in the box seats along the first and third base sides of the stadium were likewise close to the action.

Columbus Clipper Frank Menechino in the On Deck Circle, Cooper Stadium

Cooper Stadium was located along I-70 and I-71, sandwiched between a residential neighborhood to the north, and Greenlawn Cemetery to the south.

Columbus Clipper Will Nieves Lights Up the Scoreboard at Cooper Stadium

Once inside the stadium, however, the view was almost bucolic, with trees surrounding the outfield fence

Columbus Clippers Take On The Louisville Bats at Cooper Stadium

The final game at Cooper Stadium was played on September 1, 2008.

Cooper Stadium Post Game

The Columbus Clippers moved to a new ballpark located three miles northeast, closer to downtown Columbus.

View of Columbus Skyline Beyond Left Field, Cooper Stadium

The new ballpark, Huntington Park, opened on April 18, 2009.

Banner At Cooper Stadium Advertising Huntington Park Ballpark Opening 2008

After the Clippers departed, Cooper Stadium sat vacant for several years while a local development company negotiated with the city of Columbus to purchase the ballpark site. Arshot Investment Corporation currently is in the process of converting the Cooper Stadium site into a multi-use Sports Pavilion and Automotive Research Complex (SPARC). In April 2014, demolition of Cooper Stadium began, with the removal of the first base grandstand.

First Base Grand Stand, Cooper Stadium, Now Demolished

However, the third base grandstand of Cooper Stadium is being preserved and incorporated into a portion of the paved half-mile race track. Thus, Cooper Stadium will follow in the footsteps of Westport Stadium in Baltimore, the former home of the Baltimore Elite Giants, which in the 1950s was converted into Baltimore’s first NASCAR-sanctioned racetrack.

Westport Stadium (Bob Williams photo from the Larry Jendras Jr. Collection)

SPARC will also include a technology center, lodging, conference and exhibition space, and restaurants.

Cooper Stadium at Night

Although Cooper Stadium is now a lost ballpark, like Braves Field in Boston a portion of it remains, repurposed, allowing future generations the opportunity to experience at least a portion of what made Cooper Stadium a great place to watch a ballgame. Thanks to Arshot for having the vision to keep a part of Cooper Stadium, and baseball history, alive in Columbus, Ohio.

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Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium On The Banks of Lake Erie

January 2nd, 2014

Municipal Stadium was located at 1085 West Third Street in Cleveland, Ohio. Also known as Lakefront Stadium, the ballpark was situated on the banks Lake Erie just north of downtown.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (Postcard Curteichcolor, Distributed by Wilbur Evans)

Built in 1931 and designed by the same engineering firm (Osborn Engineering) that designed such ballparks as Fenway Park, Tiger Stadium, Forbes Field, and old Yankee Stadium, Municipal Stadium was the first publicly financed Major League ballpark in the country.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (Postcard Pub. by Ohio Natural Color Card Co., Plastichrome by Colourpicture Publishers, Inc.)

The stadium was known in Cleveland as the “Mistake by the Lake,” in part because of the uncertain weather patterns at the stadium caused by its proximity to Lake Erie.

Bird’s-Eye View of Cleveland Municipal Stadium and Downtown Cleveland (Photo by Butler Airphotos, Inc., Postard Distriubuted by George Klein News Co., Genuine Curteich-Chicago)

Although some believe that the name is a reference to Cleveland’s failed attempts to bring the 1932 Olympics to the City, in actuality the City of Los Angeles had been awarded those Olympics over a decade earlier.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (Postcard Curteichcolor, Distributed by George Klein News Co.)

Municipal Stadium was the first multipurpose, Major League stadium in the country. Beginning in July 1932, it was the home of the American League Cleveland Indians. Prior to that time, the Indians had called League Park their home. The Indians brought the World Series to Municipal Stadium in 1948 and 1954.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium , Huorticultural Gardens and Boat Docks (Postcard Tichnor Quality Views, Tichnor Bros., Braun Art Publishing)

By 1934, the Indians had begun the practice of playing weekday games at League Park and weekend and night games at Municipal Stadium (League Park had no lights). Playing in the smaller confines of League Park (located just four miles east of Municipal Stadium) made economic sense during the Great Depression, given the cost of opening and running Municipal Stadium versus the cost of holding games in the smaller venue. Several Cleveland professional football teams called Municipal Stadium home, including the American Football League and National Football league Cleveland Rams periodically from 1936 to 1945, and the All-American Football and National Football League Cleveland Browns from 1946 to 1995.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (Postcard Tichnor Quality Views, Tichnor Bros., Braun Art Publishing)

In 1993, the Indians played their final home game at Municipal Stadium, and the following season moved one mile south to their new home, Jacobs Field (named after the team’s owner). The new ballpark also was designed by Osborn Engineering. In 2009, the ballpark’s name was changed to Progressive Field.

Jacobs Field (Now Progressive Field), Home of the Cleveland Indians, Circa 2003

In 1996 the Cleveland Browns departed the city to become the Baltimore Ravens and demolition of the Mistake by the Lake commenced soon thereafter. In 1997, the city began construction of a new football stadium, also designed by Osborn Engineering.

Main Entrance to Cleveland Browns Stadium Circa 2003 – Facing Alfred Lerner Way

Cleveland Browns Stadium opened in 1999. It is constructed on the footprint of Municipal Stadium. The main entrance to the stadium facing, Alfred Lerner way, is the former location of Municipal Stadium’s first base grandstand.

Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (Postcard Pub. by Nelson Jones Co.)

Now known as FirstEnergy Stadium, the entrance along Erieside Avenue (facing northwest) is located near where Municipal Stadium’s left field once sat.

Entrance to FirstEnergy Field Near Former Location of Municipal Stadium's Left Field

Entrance to FirstEnergy Field Near Former Location of Municipal Stadium’s Left Field

Municipal Stadium’s home plate was located on western most end of the football stadium near W. 3rd Street.

Browns Stadium Circa 2003 – West End, Former Location of Municipal Stadium’s Home Plate

Significant changes to the exterior and interior of the FirstEnergy Stadium were made in 2014.

Panoramic Photo of FirstEnergy Field West End

Panoramic Photo of FirstEnergy Stadium West End

Municipal Stadium’s center field was located just beyond the eastern most entrance to FirstEnergy Stadium.

FirstEnergy Field Eastern Most Entrance

East Side Exterior of FirstEnergy Field

FirstEnergy Stadium, like Municipal Stadium, is surrounded on three sides by the Port of Cleveland.

Port of Cleveland

Entrance to the Port of Cleveland Across from FirstEnergy Field

Two plaques located at the stadium’s main entrance on Alfred Lerner Way commemorate the new Brown’s Stadium (now known as FirstEnergy Stadium) and the politicians who helped make it possible.

Cleveland Browns Stadium Dedication Plaque, Located At Main Entrance on Alfred Lerner Way

Cleveland Browns Stadium – Plaque Honoring Opening Day August 21, 1999, Located At Main Entrance on Alfred Lerner Way

Although Municipal Stadium is now a lost ballpark, some solace can be taken from the fact that the field where the game once was played is still used for professional football. If anyone know of any plaques or displays at the stadium that commemorate Municipal Stadium or recognize the stadium’s former history, please let me know so I can add that information to this website.

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Cleveland’s League Park – The Oldest Former MLB Park Still Standing (Somewhat)

July 20th, 2012

Located at the corner of Lexington and East 66th Street,  just three miles east of the Cleveland Indian’s current home, Progressive Field, is a historical baseball structure unmatched anywhere else in the United States.

League Park Center

For at that corner stands League Park, or what’s left of it. Once home to both Cleveland’s National League and American League teams, League Park remains a ball field, with portions of the original structure still standing (Editors Note: for an update on League Park’s Renovation CLICK HERE).

League Park postcard

The site is anchored by a two-and-a-half story, gabled, stucco and brick building which once held the team’s administrative offices.  A sign above the entrance identifies the building as “League Park Center, 6401 Lexington Ave.” A wall of glazed yellow bricks topped with four rows of four inch square glass windows cordons off the old ticket windows and the standing area immediately in front.

Side View Of League Park Center, Facing 66th Street

Inaugurated on May 1, 1891, League Park was home to the National League Cleveland Spiders until 1899, when the city lost its National League franchise. Baseball returned to League Park in 1901 when Cleveland joined the newly-formed American League along with Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.

League Park Image From City of Cleveland  Collection

The first floor of building was once partitioned by four concrete, octagonal columns. Long ago, ticket windows were located between the columns.

League Park Image From City of Cleveland  Collection

On the right side of League Park Center are several weathered doors, all of which once opened into the now-demolished right field grandstand. With that structure long gone, the single oak door on the second floor and the double oak doors on the third floor beneath the gable’s peak are, literally, doors to nowhere.

Side View Of League Park Center, Facing East 70th Street

In the later part of the 20th century, League Park Center was used by the city of  Cleveland as a youth center.

View Inside League Park Center

Located behind League Park Center is the first base side of the ballpark.

Former Location Of League Park’s First Base Grandstand

Connected to the back side of the building paralleling East 66th Street is a red brick fence with two archways that once provided entrance to the park between the ticket office and the first base grandstand. As a preservation measure, the archways has been enclosed with additional brick.

League Park’s First Base Grandstand Wall

The brick archways are stabilized by steel bracing.

Steel Bracing Preserves League Park’s First Base Grandstand Wall

Next to the brick archways, further north on East 66th toward Linwood, where the lower grandstand once stood, is  a portion of the dugout stairs.

League Park’s Former Dugout Steps – Now Steps To Nowhere

The dugout steps were connected to a walkway leading to the now-demolished clubhouse.

League Park Tunnel Leading From Dugout To Clubhouse

Home plate was located near the corner of Linwood Avenue and East 66th Street. Up until a  few  years ago, a dirt infield with  home plate and metal backstop sat in the approximate location of the original infield.

League Park Looking North From Right Field  Toward TheFormer Location Of  Home Plate

Right Field, where Shoeless Joe Jackson once roamed the outfield, was located  parallel to Lexington Avenue.

Right Field, League Park, Looking Toward Center Field

An Ohio historical marker located to the east of League Park Center notes the significance of the site:

League Park opened on May 1, 1891, with the legendary Cy Young pitching for the Cleveland Spiders in their win over the Cincinnati Red Legs. The park remained the home of Cleveland’s professional baseball and football teams until 1946. In 1920 the Cleveland Indians’ Elmer Smith hit the first grand slam home run, and Bill Wamby executed the only unassisted triple play in World Series history. Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run over the park’s short right field wall in 1929. With the park as home field, the Cleveland Buckeyes won the Negro World Series in 1945.

While much of League Park is now gone, enough remains to make it one of baseball’s best historical sites. For the true fan of the game, the park is a must-see when visiting Cleveland. An effort is underway by the  City of Cleveland and private interests to restore League Park to a certain level of its earlier glory.  For information on that effort, see LeaguePark.Org. For an article from the New York Times about the restoration, see nytimes.com article about League Park

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Crosley Field and the Corner of Findlay and Western

May 9th, 2010

The corner of Findlay Street and Western Avenue hosted professional baseball from 1884 until June 1970.  Home of the Cincinnati Reds, the earliest ballpark incarnation at that corner, League Park, lasted until 1900, when the grandstand was destroyed by fire.  Portions of League Park undamaged by the fire, mainly seating in right field (the former League Park grandstand before the field was repositioned), were incorporated into a second ballpark, known as the Palace of the Fans, which lasted until 1911.   The following three photographs show the demolition of the Palace of the Fans in preparation for construction of a new ballpark.

Wrecking the Palace of the Fans (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

In this second photograph, the building in the background is the Oliver Schlemmer Co. Plumbing, Heating & Power Work building.  The concrete pillars in the foreground are what is left of the old League Park grandstand, which was also used as Palace of the Fan’s right field pavilion.

Palace of the Fans Grandstand Comes Down (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

If only you could go back in time and grab some pieces of the old ballpark before they were discarded.

Palace of the Fans Demolition (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

The third ballpark constructed at the corner of Findlay and Western was Redland Field, later known as Crosley Field, in honor of the Reds’ owner Powel Crosley, Jr.

Crosley Field "Home of the Cincinnati Reds" (J. Louis Motz News Co.)

The right field bleachers and grandstand of Crosley Field were located at the corner of Findlay and Western.

Crosley Field First Base Grandstand and right field bleachers (Fasfoto, Inc.)

Western Avenue ran parallel to left and center field while Findlay Street ran along the first base line.  Only a few of the buildings shown in this aerial view of Crosley Field remain now at the former site.

Aerial View of Crosley Field (Bell Block News & Novelty Co.)

The buildings fronting Western Avenue are now long gone, having been demolished for construction of I-75.  The same is true for much of the buildings surrounding the grandstand.  They were demolished to make room for parking at Crosley Field.  One notable exception, however, is the building shown at the bottom left corner of the postcard.

Building Located Just Behind Third Base/Left Field Grandstand

The building, with its distinctive tall, brick smoke stack, is located just behind what was the third base/left field grandstand and remains from the time of Crosely Field.

Front of Building Facing York Street

A brick wall that ran from the front of the building east along York Street toward the corner of the left field grandstand remains as well.

Brick Wall that Attached to Grandstand

Dalton Avenue now intersects the site, running from left/center field, through right field, to the former first base grandstand.  Several buildings constructed on the site pay homage to Crosley Field.  Phillips Supply Company, located on Findlay Street, has an address of One Crosley Field Lane.

Phillips Supply Company- One Crosley Field Lane

In front of the building used to be six red-painted wooden seats which have since been replaced by plastic seats from Riverfront Stadium.

Crosley Field Seats in Front of Phillips Supply

Also on the former site is Hills Floral Products, located at 1130 Findlay, near where that street intersects with Western.

Hills Floral Supply Co. with Crosley Field Plaque

In front of the building, where the right field grandstand once stood, is a plaque honoring Crosley Field.  Inside the front lobby of the building are pictures and artifacts discussing Crosley’s history at the site.

Crosley Field Plaque

If you take the time to visit the Crosley Field site, be sure to stop at the playground located where the left field grandstand once stood.  They may not play professional baseball there anymore, but at least you can sit on a park bench (or ride a swing) in the same location where fans of the Cincinnati Reds once sat to watch the game of baseball being played.

Park Benches Where Grandstand Once Stood

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The Cinergy of Riverfront Stadium

May 8th, 2010

Riverfront Stadium was home to the Cincinnati Reds from June 1970, through the end of the 2002 season.

Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati Ohio (Fas Foto, Inc.)

The stadium literally fronted the Ohio River, hence the name.

Riverfront Stadium Along the Ohio River as Seen from Kentucky (R.C. Holmes)

Riverfront Stadium was renamed Cinergy Field in 1996, thus replacing a terrific, classic stadium name with a terrifically awful stadium name.

Cinergy Field Sporting a Vinyl Banner

The Electric Glow of Cinergy Field

While Cinergy Field may have been a “cookie-cutter,” multi-use stadium, it still housed major league baseball, making it a special place.  The ground was still hallowed, even if it was neon-green.

The Green Plastic Grass of Cinergy Field

The stadium, although generic, still could seem majestic as the lights came up and the sun went down.

Cinergy Field With Scripps Building Looming Over Stadium

In 2001, a large portion of the stadium structure and seating bowl behind center field was removed to allow construction of what would become Great American Ballpark.

The Left Field Corner Before Making Room for Progress

The Center Field Wall and Stadium Structure Behind it Was the First to Go

As can be seen in the following photographs, the new ballpark rising behind center field dominated the landscape.

Left Field Corner with Stadium and Seating Removed

The same was true for right center field.

Great American Ballpark Under Construction Behind Cinergy Field

Construction of the new ballpark required that the outfield fence be moved in several feet.

Cinergy Field's Version of the Big Green Monster

Outside the ballpark, the old stadium seemed almost to merge with the new one under construction.

The Old and the New

Other aspects of the ballpark, however, remained as they had been for 30-plus years.

Well-Worn Seats

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The Blue, Green, and Red Seats of Cinergy Field

The Last Rainout

Ironically, Great American Ballpark, built next to and atop Cinergy Field’s former site, pays tribute not to that stadium, but to Crosley Field.  “Crosley Terrace,” in front of the entrance to the new ballpark, includes statutes of former players.

Crosley Terrace at Great American Ballpark

The plaza also includes a recreation of Crosley Field’s famous left field berm (that later was extended to include center and right field as well), which ran over top city sewer lines that straddled the left field wall.

Crosley Field Berm Looking Toward What Was Deep Center Field

The Red’s Hall of Fame and Museum sits in the location of the former outfield.

Reds Hall of Fame and Museum Located on Hallowed Ground

Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field is now just another lost ballpark.  But for those who attended games there, it certainly is not forgotten, even if there is no plaque marking its former location .

Gone But Not Forgotten

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Cy Young Lived Here

March 28th, 2010

An Amish Market

While baseball may never have been played here, Cy Young, one of the all time great players, lived and died in this farm house in Peoli, Ohio. A permanent guest of family friends the Bendums, Young moved into the house after his wife Roba died in 1933.

The house is owned by Amish now and serves as a general store. In front of the building, next to the road, is a white, hand painted sign in simple black lettering, offering “Brown Eggs For Sale, Not Over a Week Old, No Sunday Sale, 1.25 a dozen.”  Baseball fans are fortunate that this house still stands, even if just barely.  Like League Park, there is enough left of the building’s former glory to appreciate how it might have looked when Young was alive.  It is yet another portal to baseball’s past.

Sign of the Times

For additional information about Cy Young, be sure to check out Cy Young and the Temperance Tavern Museum. The museum is located just a few miles from Young’s former home.

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Steps To The Past

March 26th, 2010

A Journey to the Past

They lead nowhere now, but these steps at League Park once took Cleveland players from the dugout, underneath the first base grandstands, to clubhouse, and back again.

And it is here, at League Park, that I will begin recounting the steps I have taken over the years to find the past hidden within this country’s many lost ballparks.

Lawrence Ritter did all baseball fans a great service, not just for his groundbreaking work “The Glory of Their Times,” but also with the publication almost 20 years ago of his book “Lost Ballparks.”  Over the years it has served as an inspiration and a travel guide for my many visits to this country’s long-lost major league ballparks.

There is much to tell about the trips I have taken, tracking down these former ballpark sites.  Some still retain a piece or two of the old ballpark – League Park, Forbes Field,  Braves Field, Sportsman Park.  Others have perhaps an outline, or markings where the field once stood – Fulton County Stadium, old Comiskey Park, Shea Stadium.  But most lost ballparks have nothing, just the memories of the men who played there and those who attended the games.  Pictures of those old ballparks, and understanding of what has been built in their place, and the memories of those fortunate to have seen the vanished ballparks, will aid in my attempt to bring these ballparks back again.

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