CLEVELAND - After years of neglect, the first home of the Cleveland Indians, is making a comeback, confident it is good for many more seasons of baseball.
League Park, built at Lexington Avenue and East 66th Street in 1891, is where the Cleveland Indians began the team's long history. The Indians played in League Park until the team moved all of its home games to Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1947. That stadium is now gone as the team plays its games in Progressive Field.
The old Cleveland Buckeyes, of the now-gone Negro League, also played home games in League Park. When the Negro Leagues folded, the ballpark in the Hough neighborhood of Cleveland was almost abandoned. There were some sandlot games which were played there, but the days of professional ball were long gone.
The city of Cleveland has long held League Park, wanting for a plan to be developed which would find a good use for the land.
Pushed by the late member of the city council, Fannie Lewis, League Park was kept on the conscious of city government. When she died several years ago, the push for the park continued. It was also a tribute to her hard work in that neighborhood.
"We are restoring an original Major League ballfield and Cleveland kids are going to get to play on the ball field," said Ken Silliman, chief of staff for Mayor Frank Jackson. Sporting a necktie bearing pictures of old baseball parks, Silliman noted New York Yankees great Babe Ruth hit his 500th homerun in League Park.
The plans call for a grandstand to be built against the one remaining wall of the park. The former offices of the baseball club are being refurbished and a new concession stand will be built along the third-base line.
The park will be available for sandlot and high school baseball. Other events are also planned for the park, which will be a gathering spot for the Hough neighborhood.