Things I did not know: Cleveland’s League Park, in which Cy Young pitched for the Cleveland Spiders in 1891 and which was home to the Cleveland Indians until 1946, still stands. At least partially. And the city of Cleveland has somehow found some money to help renovate it:
City Architecture is wrapping up plans that include restoring the ticket house and a bleacher wall and creating a Major League-size diamond in the same place as the original. Home plate will go in the exact spot where it rested the day that Babe Ruth whacked his 500th career home run in 1929.
Plans also call for a community building with a museum, a youth baseball diamond and a field for football and soccer. If bids are low enough, the city could add a pavilion and splash park.
As the article makes clear, there’s oodles of history associated with that yard. And while its days as a baseball stadium were over before my mother was born, it’s great that enough of the structure remains that it can anchor what sounds like will a useful and vibrant facility in the future. One that recalls history while still serving a present need.
And of course all I can think of is how sad it was that no one could pull that off with Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Despite the fact that it sat vacant for nearly 60 years less than League Park did.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.