I wore my old-time “skimmer” — just like the “cranks” who followed baseball early in the 20th century — to the refurbished League Park in Cleveland. The infield can be seen to the right beyond the fence.
June was a good baseball month for me: Not only did I get to take in my first game at Pittsburgh, but on a trip back to my hometown of Cleveland I visited the old location of League Park.
The park was the full-time or part-time home of Cleveland professional baseball [go ahead, insert your stinging Cleveland joke here] from 1891 through 1950. Four years later, most of the park was demolished. In all my years growing up in Cleveland, I never visited, and until arriving a few weekends ago I didn’t expect to find much there.
How wrong I was. On site is a beautiful new ball field in the same funky dimensions as the old League Park, where so many great players of the past rounded the bases. Even more surprising, a summer college game was being played between teams from Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
The ballpark is alive again, thanks to the City of Cleveland investing in a rebuilding project completed in 2014.
There’s no grandstand, and only a few fans were parked along the sidelines in lawn chairs with umbrellas shielding them from the sun. But a game was underway, and that made me very, very happy.
We arrived too late in the day to tour the small Baseball Heritage Museum in the park’s old ticket house. It’s a good reason for me to go back, only this time I won’t wait 60 years.
Not much is left of the old park save for the old ticket house and a portion of the wall along Lexington Avenue. This is shot from inside the old park. The illustrations feature former players from major and Negro leagues, including (from left) Quincy Trouppe, Bill “Wamby” Wambsganns Bob Feller and mural artist Jerome White.
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It’s the middle of the winter, roughly midway from the World Series to the opening of spring training, and I need some baseball inspiration.
I found it in this photo of Bob Feller and Satchel Paige, from Oct. 15, 1946.
Feller led an All-Star team of American and National league players in a pair of exhibition games against Negro Leagues All-Stars in Kansas City, Mo. Paige, who soon would pitch with Feller on the Cleveland Indians, was with the Kansas City Monarchs then.
All of which reminds me: I need to post about the one cap I got as a Christmas gift, a Monarchs beauty. I’m saving that post for another day.