Friday, April 07, 2006

Opening Day - The "Official" Start of Summer

Ah, the beginning of the baseball season in Cleveland. The weather has been warm enough to push the tulips through the mulch. The smell of baseball glove leather, overcooked hotdogs, stale beer and freshly manicured grass permiates every ballpark from San Diego to Cleveland to Boston.

Opening day in Cleveland has history unlike most other major league cities in that professional baseball has existed since a few years after the Civil War. So, to celebrate Opening Day, everyone here at "Evening with Sabs" decided that a historical retrospective with some stats would be a great way to illustrate Cleveland professional baseball history. Don't worry. Its pretty straight forward.

Cleveland professional baseball started in 1869 with the first professional game played near the present day E. 38th street in between Scoville and Central Avenues. The team was named the Cleveland Forest Citys after the Forest City Coffee Company. They lost 25-6 to the first professional baseball team the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

Since that year, professional baseball in Cleveland faded in and out of existance as it did in other cities back then. In 1871 and 1872, a Cleveland team also names the Forest Citys was formed but disbanded. Then from 1879 to 1884, the Cleveland Blues played their games at the Kennard Street Park. During that stretch, they won 4 of the 6 opening days. In 1885 and 1886, no professional baseball was played in Cleveland. But in 1887, Cleveland baseball returned again. Named the Spiders, they won 10 of the next 13 opening days through the 1899 season.

In 1900, no Cleveland baseball existed because of the ineptitude of the 1899 Cleveland team which had a record of 20-132, still the worst record of any baseball franchise in baseball history. The team subsequently folded.

Starting in 1901, the new American Leagued was formed and Cleveland baseball was born again. Since then, Cleveland baseball which has been played in 3 stadiums (League Park, Cleveland Stadium and now Jacobs' Field) has won 54 of the 105 opening day games. They score an average of 4 runs in each opening day game. The most scored: 15 in 1997.

The sight of the former League Park. Nothing much is left except the front ticket area which later became a community center. The remaining frontage is in much worse condition than is indicated in this picture (circa 1970s or 80s) Plans are in the works to refurbish the grounds. This was the sight of Babe Ruth's 500th homerun as well as Cy Young's 500th win.

A picture from the last season at Cleveland Stadium from 1993. The new Cleveland Browns Stadium occupies the site as of 1999.

1 comment:

Alicia Bennett said...

Hi there, I was surfing the internet and I found your blog. I like the way how you have put it all together. I'll be coming back again.


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