Recent talks about the state of League Park inspired me to take the drive down to E. 66th and Lexington to get a taste for what we're talking about. I'll try to keep my comments brief and let the pictures do most of the work.
It doesn't take long heading along Superior Ave for the neighborhood to get rough. I took this shot from my car. Once you hit E. 66th off Superior, you see an old yellow bar sign that says "League Park Bar." Like an old ticket stub that fell to the ground after the game.
I travelled just a few blocks down E 66th before running into Lexington Ave. Here it is, League Park.
I'd like to mention that I'm not satisfied with the pictures I took because I was legitimately afraid being at this place alone. This neighborhood could not be worse. Along E. 66th, around a hundred feet from the park, there was a house with 15-20 guys sitting in the front yard. If they had wanted to mess with me, they would've had an easy time with it.
Right across the street from League Park is a dilapidated church.
Kitty-corner to it, however, is a new community center and day care - the softest breeze of hope in a wrecked land. I parked my car here.
And here she is. The back of the ticket booth. Aside from the first-base line grand stand fascade and the foul polls, this is all you get.
I'm standing in left field right now. How many great ballplayers used to roam this ground? I wonder if any big plays ever happened at this exact spot.
This is my most disappointing shot. I was skittish, so I shot quickly and didn't get the context of what this picture shows. This is the tunnel connecting the club house to the first base dugout. Cy Young used to ascend these stairs on his way to the mound.
League Park was built in 1891 and expanded in 1909 by an upstart Cleveland firm called Osborn Engineering - the same firm that went on to build Fenway, Yankee Stadium, Old Municipal - and even did the structural work for Progressive Field. Recently, Osborn has done special-consulting and repairs for Wrigley Field. Funny thing about Osborn: I work for them right now. Motivated by LGT talks, I sent an email to our company's President, pitching the idea of Osborn getting on board with the renovation of League Park. Think about it: one company designs, builds, observes the decommissioning, demolition, ruination, and subsequent rejuvenation of a structure and a neighborhood more than 100 years later.
But why care about this place? Hard to say. An Indians fan might appreciate the first place that housed Tribesmen. Others might see League Park as a possible symbol for urban reform, or inspiration for black American youth to take back the game. Some might look at League Park as Cleveland and American history, something that has intrinsic worth and should be preserved as such. Or you might just see an old building, begging to be put out of its misery. It all depends on how the light hits the brick, or where you're standing when you look at it.
Time to go home now, League Park. I'll be back later.
Back sooner than I thought. Osborn sold most of its original drawings in the early 90s (whoops) but I made a copy of an elevation and street view. That, and Osborn plans to be involved in a renovation of League Park should it ever get off the ground. Possibly more to come...