Posts Tagged ‘Progressive Field’

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 article about League Park

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