Tag Archives: Cleveland

Classic Park – Eastlake, Ohio

— Matt Nelson

Classic Park in Eastlake, Ohio, home of the Lake County Captains, is where it belongs. In the Midwest League.

Prior to 2010 the Captains played in the South Atlantic League and considering Classic Park is about two miles from Lake Erie, it’s good that this instance of “Ballpark Geography Inaccuracy” has been resolved. Now if we can just figure out a better league name for the AAA teams in Memphis, Nashville, Des Moines, Omaha and Round Rock. “Pacific Coast” they most certainly are not.

Classic Park opened when the franchise moved from Columbus, Georgia, to Eastlake in 2003 and seats more than 7,000 fans. Interestingly enough, the other new Midwest League team, Bowling Green, also relocated to its present city from Columbus, Georgia (in 2009).

Although it is a suburban ballpark surrounded by the usual parking lots, it’s not “new” suburbia, which is what one might expect. The area it is in is older than the ballpark itself.

Speaking of those parking lots, one thing that isn’t found at other Midwest League ballparks is a pedestrian bridge to get fans from surrounding parking lots, over a busy highway, and into the ballpark safely. There’s also a bus stop built into the ballpark and the Lake County Tourism Office. The name, Classic Park, comes from the naming rights deal with a local group of car dealers, Classic Automotive Group.

Inside the ballpark the lighthouse in Center Field stands out…like a lighthouse is supposed to! Captain Tony greets fans to the park, and then stations himself on guard to sound sirens and light the lamp for Captains home runs.

The Captains are an Indians affiliate, as evidenced by the t-shirts available in the gift shop, the Cargo Hold, of course. While some teams in the Midwest League are many miles from their parent club (Cedar Rapids is 1,800 miles from Anaheim), the Captains play just 18 miles from where they hope to play in a few years, Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland.

On the night I visited Classic Park, the fans were busy worrying about a Cleveland superstar in a different sport, LeBron James. July 1, 2010, was the opening of NBA Free Agency and the Captains got into the pitch to keep LeBron with the Cavaliers.

“Please Stay LeBron Night” included the Captains renaming themselves the LeLake LeCounty LeCaptains, taking the field under a cloud of baby powder (like LeBron does), a slam dunk contest on a Nerf hoop, full page ads from a local newspaper being displayed to state their plea, the team employees wearing James-esque headbands, and many more unique efforts. In the end, it didn’t work and LeBron left for Miami, but it did make for a fantastic promotion that the crowd really got involved with.

Classic Park is a pleasant place to watch a baseball game in a major metropolitan area. It offers fans the chance to watch future players for their favorite big league team a few years before they arrive in “The Show.”

Be sure to check out the video coverage of Classic Park and Progressive Field!

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Filed under Midwest League Ballparks, Uncategorized

The Other Two

 

President McKinley Site - Canton, Ohio

— Matt Nelson

Regrettably, when I travel to ballparks not all of my time is spent at ballparks. There are many, many, hours on the road, and in those hours I often try to find some unique (and cheap) places to visit.

I’m a fan of United States history, and I’m a fan of Presidential history. I claim no true expertise.

President McKinley

Presidential gravesites are interesting places to visit. The local communities where the presidents grew up are always very proud of their native sons. The thing is, other than a select few, most people don’t know a whole heck of a lot about many of the 44 presidents in this country’s history. They may have school buildings and street signs that bear their names, but visiting a presidential gravesite always prompts me to learn a bit more about them.

Garfield Site

Ohio is a hotbed for presidential history. On a trip out east in 2009 I stopped in Fremont to check out the gravesite of #19, Rutherford B. Hayes. I recently traveled to Ohio to visit the Midwest League ballparks in Dayton and Eastlake (those stories come to KCRG-TV9 and KCRG.com in August).

President Garfield Site - Cleveland, Ohio

This time around I saw the gravesites of two presidents who unfortunately, share a common bond. It’s probably safe to say most Americans know that Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were assassinated, but until you read the photo captions on this page, could you name the two other assassinated Presidents? They are #20, James A. Garfield, and #25 William McKinley.

President Garfield

Garfield was shot in a Washington D.C. train station and was President of the United States for just 200 days. He rests in Lakeview Cemetery just east of downtown Cleveland a few miles. His resting place is tough to miss. It’s a large building on top of a hill, providing a view of downtown Cleveland.

View from the McKinley Site

McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo, New York. He was in his second term as president. McKinley’s resting place is also in a large building on top of a hill, but in Canton, Ohio, about one mile from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hayes, Garfield and McKinley. Just three of the eight presidents born in Ohio, “The Cradle of Presidents.” The Buckeye State is in a bit of a drought though, #29, Harding (who also died in office, but of natural causes), was the last president produced by Ohio.

Garfield's Resting Place

“The Other Two.” Abe, JFK, Garfield, and McKinley. Might help with a trivia question some day, you never know!

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Filed under Miscellaneous, Project Updates

The Lost Ballparks of Cleveland

  

The Ballparksmobile sits in foul territory down the right field line at a Lost Ballpark

 

— Matt Nelson  

Many cities have “Lost (Major League) Ballpark” sites. Believe it or not Keokuk, Iowa, is one of those places. In 1875 the highest level of professional baseball was played there by the Keokuk Westerns of the National Association.  

Most cities don’t have a list of Lost Ballpark sites as long as Cleveland, Ohio though. “Green Cathedrals” by Philip J. Lowry lists more than ten in Cleveland and the surrounding area.  

Cleveland Browns Stadium today, old Cleveland Stadium site from 1932-1993.

 

On the north side of downtown Cleveland is Cleveland Browns Stadium. This is the site where Cleveland Stadium was from 1932-1993 (the Indians played at Cleveland Stadium full time starting in 1947).  

For ballpark nerds that site is nice, but there’s a real Lost Ballpark site a couple of miles east of downtown Cleveland that is easily one of the best anywhere in the country.  

League Park III (1891-1909) and more notably League Park IV (1910-1950) were located at Linwood Avenue and East 66th Street.  

Even though most of League Park IV was demolished in 1951 parts of it still stand! The ticket booth at the corner of East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue is in very rough shape today, but is a great piece of ballpark history.  

Ticket Booth In Past Years.

Ticket Booth Today.

Also still standing is part of the exterior brick wall on the first base side which runs right along East 66th Street.  

 

In both right field and left field are foul poles that mark the spots where those were located.  

 

Best of all, there is a non-profit effort now by the League Park Society to restore the parts of Cleveland’s League Park that do still exist, while improving the entire block and giving the area a place to hold baseball games at the site where many Major League games were played through the years. You can check out their efforts here.  

 

 

 

 

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