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League Park - Facts and History

Dunn Field 1910

League Park* 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.

1898 Spiders

Above - 1898 Spiders

League Park opened on May 1, 1891, and sat 9,000 on wooden seats at the time. The Cleveland 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.

James Dunn

Above - Cleveland Indians president, James C. Dunn (Library of Congress)

The stadium was rebuilt for the 1910 season, with concrete and steel grandstands, now seating 21,414. In 1916 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 Stadium 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.

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 290 feet down the right field line—though batters still had to surmount a 60-foot fence to hit a home run (by comparison, the Green Monster at Fenway Park is only 37 feet high). The fence in left field was only five feet tall, but batters had to hit the ball 375 feet down the line to hit a home run, and it was fully 460 feet 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 Bowl'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.

* Article from Wikipedia®



Quick facts about League Park

  • Tenant: Cleveland Indians
  • Architect: Osborn Engineering
  • Location: At the intersection of East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue. The address is 6601 Lexington Avenue.
  • League Park is designated as a National Historic Site
  • Capacity: 9,000 (original) 21,400 (final)
  • Surface: Grass
  • Cost: Unknown
  • Opened: May 1, 1891, April 21, 1910
  • Last Game: September 21, 1946 - Tigers 5, Indians 3.
  • Demolished: 1951
  • Dimensions: 385-L, 460-C, 290-R (original) 375-L, 420-C, 290-R (final)
  • Backstop: 76 (1910), 60 (1942).
  • Elevation: 660 feet
  • Fences:
    Left field: 5 ft (concrete)
    Left-center: 10 ft (7 screen above 3 concrete)
    Center field scoreboard: 35 ft
    Right-center clock: 20 ft (left and right sides), 22 (center of clock)
    Right-center field, parts not covered by chicken wire screen: 45 ft (20 concrete topped by 25 steel chicken wire screen supports, 1920)
    Right field, parts covered by chicken wire screen: 45 (20 concrete topped by 25 chicken wire screen, 1920).

  • National Register of Historic Places: Listed 1979, Building #79001808
    State of Ohio Register of Historic Sites: A State of Ohio Historical Marker is located near the intersection of East 66th and Lexington.

   

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