Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cleveland Baseball History , Part I

"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time." I have always loved that quote from the "The Field of Dreams". And no one could have presented it better then James Earl Jones.
There are many stories and ideas as where baseball actually originated but in this series of posts I'm only concerned about major league baseball in Cleveland , Ohio. Cincinnati can claim the first professional team , professional meaning the players got paid strictly for playing ball , in 1896. But there was no league . They just barnstormed , easily defeating every team they came up against. Well , this opened the eyes of many people and two years later in 1871 , on St. Patrick's Day , the first professional major league was born , The National Association of Base Ball Players. The Boston Red Stockings and the Washington Olympics were thought to be two of the potentially best teams so were scheduled for the first game. However , rain caused that game to be canceled so on May 4 , 1871 , in Ft.Wayne , In. the Ft. Wayne Kekiongas played the Cleveland Forest Citys. I guess , being in Ft. Wayne , it was only fitting that they won 2-0 , but it was a very good game. White , the first batter for Cleveland doubled but was caught too far off 2b when Kimball lined out.Ft. Wayne scored one run in the 2nd on a base hit and one more in the 5th after two passed balls (which were not considered errors ).While rain threatened the game all afternoon , it held off until moments after the 3rd out in the bottom of the 9th. ( the home team took their last at bat even if they were ahead ) Cleveland finished 7th out of 9 teams that first year , 1 win ahead of Ft. Wayne. One notable name was Al Spalding , later to be associated with sporting goods, who pitched for Boston and led the league with 19 victories. Al Pratt of Cleveland was the league leader with 17....... losses ! The first was a tough year for the league as it hadn't really caught on yet and Boston proved to be very dominate for the first few years which caused some lack of interest. ( except for Red Stocking fans , of course ).Most teams lost money. The second year was worse for Cleveland as they went bankrupt by August 19 and only played 22 games compared to Boston's 48. Cleveland had 13 players on their roster in 1871 and 12 in 1872 with only 6 of the same returning .Then the baseball drought hit. There was not another professional team in Cleveland until 1879.


  1. This is great stuff!! I cannot wait to read more! Amazingly, I know very little about the history of Cleveland baseball. You would think I would be one to know a bunch given my devotion to the 'mistake by the lake....'

  2. Just wanted to chime in real quick - after reading this, i just HAD to watch FoD again. My wife watched it with me, and it was the first time she ever saw it. It was great watching it again with someone who had never seen it. Thanks for the inspiration and for creating an experience I would have otherwise missed out on!

  3. Good Valentine flick.I love that movie too! I'm also glad you like my story so far.I'm preparing for the next segment.