Thursday, April 8, 2010

League Park, Cleveland, Ohio

I don't know anything about baseball, but that doesn't mean I don't like it. In fact, I like it a lot. I just like it for the wrong reasons. I love the sounds and the smells. I like the cheering of fans and the shouting of the vendors, and the old-fashioned organ music. I enjoy the food smells and the taste of a hot dog with all of the stuff on it, even though I don't normally eat hot dogs. (They taste different at a ball game.)  I am fascinated by those perfect mowed-grass patterns on the field. I can enjoy a baseball game without caring who wins. My investment, when I buy a ticket, is simply in breathing in deeply (if somewhat obliviously) of the wonderful American tradition.

Once I was invited to watch a baseball game from a luxury suite. I was very excited about it, but it turned out to be a huge letdown. It had the effect of removing everything I love from the game, which is to say, the ambiance. This game in Cleveland seems to have ambiance and hats to spare. I wish I could have been there.

League Park in Cleveland was built in 1891 and provided seating for 9,000. In 1910, the stadium was completely rebuilt in steel and concrete, with seating for more than twice as many fans (that's what you see here.) This was the home of the Cleveland Indians for over 50 years. The park was renamed Dunn Field in 1916, after the new owner, but went back to being called League Park in 1927. League Park always had a slightly strange shape, because the neighboring property owner was unwilling to sell any property, so the right field fence was short. The Cleveland Indians moved to Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1932, but they continued to play at League Park on the weekends until 1947.  In 1951, League Park was demolished.

Here's what it looks like now. Kind of sad.

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The League Park Society is a non-profit dedicated to bringing baseball back to League Park. As they say on their website: On a spring day a visitor can still walk into this place and see the green grass. They can gaze down the old first base line and just imagine what Babe Ruth felt on August 11, 1929 when he hit his 500th home run over the wall onto Lexington Avenue or stand where Addie Joss throw his perfect game. You can close your eyes and just for a moment or two go back in time. Yes, the brick and mortar may largely be gone but the soul of League Park is still very much alive.


  1. Not only do hot dogs taste different at ball parks, they also COST different! You are right though, if you aren't up close to the action and participating in the energy of the crowd, you might as well be in your family room watching the game on TV.... How about that exciting mowing pattern at the old League Park site today? wow, nice...

  2. For some reason all those hats just really made me laugh. Neat card. :)



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