Cleveland, OH

From BR Bullpen

Cleveland is located in northeastern Ohio, on the south shore of Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. It is the second largest city in the state, after Columbus, OH, but its metropolitan area has the highest population. The headquarters of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) were located here until moving to Arizona in 2011. The Baseball Heritage Museum is located here.

Cleveland Baseball History[edit]

Baseball in Cleveland dates back to 1857, but the first record of baseball teams can be found in 1866. Two of the clubs, the Railroad Unions and the Forest Citys joined the amateur league the National Association of Base Ball Players in December of 1867. When the league allowed teams to go professional for the 1869 season, the Forest Citys were one of the 12 teams to do so. The Forest Citys would go on to join the first major league National Association, but only lasted two seasons in the league before folding in mid-1872. Cleveland continued to field only amateur teams for next six seasons.

Professional baseball returned to Cleveland on December 4, 1878. That was when a second Forest Citys club joined the National League for the 1879 season. This second team, also known as the Cleveland Blues, lasted longer in the major leagues than its predecessors, but dropped out following the 1884 season. While many of the players ended up on the Brooklyn Atlantics or on the St. Louis Maroons for the 1885 season, the Forest City club may have played in the minor leagues that year. A third or fourth Forest Citys franchise joined the American Association for the 1887 season. This Forest Citys club remained in the American Association for two seasons before jumping to the National League for the 1889 season. Owner Frank Robison once remarked on how tall and spidery his players were, prompting the team to be nicknamed the Cleveland Spiders. The following year, saw a second major league team in the Cleveland Infants. The Infants were a member of the Players League. Both teams finished the 1890 season with sub-.500 records, with the Infants finishing ahead of the Spiders with a 55-75-1 record, while the Spiders had a 44-88-4 record.

After the season, the Spiders and Infants merged together into one Spiders team. The Spiders challenged for the National League pennant during the 1890s, winning an early World Series championship over the Boston Beaneaters in 1892 and making back-to-back appearances in the Temple Cup in 1895 and 1896, winning the Cup in 1895. Following the 1898 season, the Robison brothers purchased the St. Louis Brown Stockings, and began sending many of the best players from the Spiders to the Brown Stockings, now called the St. Louis Perfectos. As a result the Spiders produced the worst record in major league baseball a 20-134 record, in 1899.

During the off-season, the National League decided to scale back its number of teams from 12 to 8 through a process of contraction. On March 8, 1900, the Spiders were one of the four teams dropped from the league. American League President Ban Johnson decided to place a team in Cleveland. Initially he approached former Spiders' secretary Davis Hawley about running the team, but Hawley declined and instead pointed Johnson to Jack Kilfoyl and Charles Somers. Both men accepted Johnson's invitation to join the AL. They purchased the Grand Rapids Furniture Makers and moved them to Cleveland. The team started out as the Cleveland Blues or Bluebirds and after several name changes, settled on the name Cleveland Indians.

In 1913, the Naps (as the team was then known) were challenged by the Cleveland Green Sox, members of the outlaw Federal League (which had not yet declared itself a major league). The Sox lasted only for a season, after which Naps' owner Charles Somers moved the minor league Toledo Mud Hens to Cleveland to prevent the Federal League from maintaining a toehold in the city. This arrangement lasted until the end of the 1915 season, after which the team returned to Toledo. Since then, no other major league team has called Cleveland home, aside from about a 30-year period in which several Negro Leagues teams played ball in the city.

Teams that have played here[edit]

People who were born here[edit]

People who died here[edit]

Educational institutions located here[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • James M. Egan, Jr.: Base Ball on the Western Reserve: The Early Game in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, Year by Year and Town by Town 1865-1900, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2007.
  • Vince Guerrieri: Weird Moments in Cleveland Sports: Bottlegate, Bedbugs, and Burying the Pennant, Gray & Company, Cleveland, OH, 2022. ISBN 9781598511239
  • Stephanie M. Liscio: Integrating Cleveland Baseball: Media Activism, the Integration of the Indians and the Demise of the Negro League Buckeyes, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2010.
  • Eugene C. Murdock: Ban Johnson: Czar of Baseball, Contributions to the Study of Popular Culture, Annotated Edition, Praeger, Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, CT, 1982. ISBN 978-0313234590
  • Russell Schneider : The Cleveland Indians Encyclopedia, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA, 1996. ISBN 978-1-56639-405-5