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Cleveland Stadium

By Wikipedia

Cleveland Stadium (also known as Municipal Stadium, Lakefront Stadium, Cleveland Municipal Stadium) was a baseball and football stadium located in Cleveland, Ohio. While Cleveland Public Municipal Stadium was derisively nicknamed "The Mistake by the Lake," die-hard Browns fans in the end zones named their area of the stadium the "Dawg Pound" during the Awesome80s.

At a glance...
Facility statistics
Location Cleveland, Ohio
Broke ground 1930
Opened July 1, 1931
Closed December 17, 1995
Demolished November 1996
Owner City of Cleveland
Replaced League Park
Replaced by Jacob's Field (Indians, 1993)
Browns Stadium (Browns, 2000)
Surface Bluegrass
$3M +
$5M ('67 renovation),
$3.6M ('74 renovation)
Architect F.R. Walker of Walker & Weeks
Cleveland Indians (MLB, 1931-1995)
Cleveland Browns (AAFC, NFL, -1995)
Seating capacity
78,000 (1931)
76,713 (1976)
74,483 (1989)
(largest crowd: 86,563 9/12/54 vs. Yankees)
Left Field - 322 ft
Left-Center - 435 ft
Center Field - 470 ft
Right-Center - 435 ft
Right Field - 322 ft

Left Field - 321 ft
Left-Center - 385 ft
Center Field - 400 ft
Right-Center - 385 ft
Right Field - 321 ft

Left Field - 320 ft
Left-Center - 395 ft
Center Field - 415 ft
Right-Center - 395 ft
Right Field - 320 ft
Backstop - 60 ft

The stadium sat 78,000 for both football and baseball - though as many as 86,000 crowded in for some games. Built under the watch of city managers William R. Hopkins and Daniel E. Morgan, it was designed by the architecture firm of Walker and Weeks and Osborn Engineering, and featured an early use of structural aluminum. The Donald Gray Gardens were installed on the stadium's north side in 1936 as part of the Great Lakes Exposition.

The stadium was opened on July 1, 1931, and hosted a heavyweight boxing match between Max Schmeling and Young Stribling two days later. Local lore - and completely incorrect - states that the stadium was built in a failed bid to attract the 1932 Summer Olympics, which went to Los Angeles (as did the NFL franchise - the Cleveland Rams - in 1945). A January 4, 1931 New York Times article clearly states that the bond measure for $2.5M for a 40,000-50,000 seat stadium that passed in 1929 was to attract big events, like boxing and football, and for the Cleveland Indians. In fact, the games were awarded to Los Angeles two years before the Cleveland bond measure was even voted on.

The Indians played night and weekend games at the stadium from 1932 until 1947 - still playing weekday games at League Park, which lacked lights - and then all of their games from then until the beginning of the 1994 season, when the team moved to Jacobs Field.

The stadium was so cavernous due to the dual setup for baseball and football that an inner fence was constructed in 1947 to cut down the size of the field. No player ever hit a home run into the center field bleachers, nearly 480 feet away. According to his own autobiography, Veeck - As in Wreck, Indians' owner Bill Veeck would move the fence in or out, varying by as much as 15 feet, depending on how it would favor the Indians, a practice that ended when the American League specifically legislated against moving fences during the course of a given season.

The facility, located just across the street from Lake Erie, was known for the biting cold winds that would blow into the stadium in winter and, for that matter, during much of the spring and fall. Hot summer nights would compensate by attracting swarms of midges and mayflies. In its later years it was known as the "Mistake On The Lake," and came in for its fair share of lampoonings in an age when the entire city of Cleveland was ridiculed. The facility, however, had its glorious and humorous moments. In 1948, the Indians won the American League pennant and World Series behind pitcher Bob Feller and shortstop/playing manager Lou Boudreau. In 1949, after the Indians lost the pennant to the New York Yankees, they buried their 1948 flag in the outfield. In 1954 the Indians again won the American League pennant, winning a then-record 111 games, under manager Al Lopez and behind an outstanding pitching staff led by Bob Lemon. They were swept, however, by the New York Giants in the World Series.

Cleveland Stadium!

The construction as seen on April 6, 1931.

Photo by LOC

07/31/1932 Athletics 1, Indians 0
Umpires Bill Guthrie, Red Orsmby
  Harry Geisel, Tommy Connolly
Managers Roger Peckinpaugh, Indians
  Connie Mack, Athletics
Starting Pitchers Mel Harder, Indians
  Lefty Grove, Philadelphia
Ceremonial Pitch Ohio Governor George White
Attendance 76,979
Batter Max Bishop (single)
Hit Max Bishop (single)
Run Max Bishop
RBI Mickey Cochrane
Single Max Bishop
Double Jimmie Foxx
Triple Joe Vosmik (08/04/1932)
Home Run Johnny Burnett (08/07/1932)
Grand Slam Willie Kamm (09/18/1932)
IPHR Johnny Burnett (09/14/1932)
Stolen Base Dick Porter (08/01/1932)
Sacrifice Hit Willie Kamm
Sacrifice Fly (unknown)
Cycle Leon Culberson (07/03/1943)
Win Lefty Grove
Loss Mel Harder
Shutout Lefty Grove
Save N/A
Hit by Pitch Ivy Andrews hit Earl Averill
Wild Pitch Wes Ferrell (08/01/1932)
Balk (unknown)
No-Hitter Don Black (07/10/1947)
Perfect Game Len Barker (05/15/1981)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet

On four separate occasions, it hosted the 1935, 1954, 1963 and 1981 All-Star Games. On its last day as home of the Indians on October 3, 1993, the team's fans, led by comedian Bob Hope (who grew up an Indians fan and was once a part-owner), who sang a version of his theme song, "Thanks For The Memories", with special lyrics for the occasion (as he was wont to do on many of his television shows), bade farewell to the old stadium.

The NFL's Cleveland Browns began playing at the facility in 1946, and played there until 1995. The center field bleachers were home to many of the club's most avid fans, and became known during the Awesome80s as the Dawg Pound after the barks that fans made to disrupt opposing teams' offensive plays. Some of the fans even wore dog masks.

In addition to sporting events, the stadium hosted a number of rock concerts, including a 1966 concert by The Beatles. A series known as the World Series of Rock was held in the Super70s, featuring big-name acts, including The Rolling Stones. The inaugural Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert was held in the stadium in 1995.

The Stadium was an economic drain on the City of Cleveland, which owned it and originally operated it throughout its life. In the mid Super70s the Browns owner Art Modell agreed to lease the facility for $1.00 per year. Modell's company, Stadium Corporation, took over operations and invested in improvements, including luxury suites. The suites were quite lucrative for Modell and generated substantial revenue for him. Modell refused to share the suite revenue with the Indians baseball team, even though quite a bit of the revenues were generated during baseball games. Eventually the Indians prevailed upon the local governments and voters and convinced them to build them their own facility where they would control the suite revenue. Modell, believing that his revenues were not endangered, refused to participate in the Gateway Project that built Jacobs Field for the Indians and Quicken Loans Arena for the Cavs. Modell's assumptions proved incorrect and the suite revenues declined when the Indians moved from the stadium to Jacobs Field in 1994. The following year, Modell decided to move the football team to Baltimore, Maryland after the 1995 season.

Modell's move of the team actually breached the team's lease and so the City of Cleveland sued. The stadium was demolished the next year - and the pieces were literally taken across the street and dumped in the lake, so as to create an artificial reef for fisherman and divers.

Birdseye view...

Multipurpose stadiums are a compromise. Football fans in the premium seats were much farther away from the action than they would have been in a football-only stadium.

Photo courtesy of LCPC

Buy at
Cleveland Indians `Last Night at the ...
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Good Riddance!

I'm sure some have fond memories of "The Mistake by the Lake," but anyone who truly remembers what it was like to watch a game there and is able to contrast it with the new stadiums will not remain nostalgic for long. Cleveland Municipal Stadium was put out of its misery (and ours) in November of 1996. New Cleveland Browns Stadium now stands on the site.

Related Books on Ballparks
The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee
Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
Ballparks by Robert Von Goeben and Red Howard.
Ballparks: Then & Now by Eric Enders.
Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballbarks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums by Ira Rosen.
Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks by Jay Ahuja
Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
Video: Story of America's Classic Ballparks
Video: Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Economics of Stadiums
City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

General Stadium Reference:
Sports Staff of USA Today. The Complete 4 Sport Stadium Guide. Fodor's, 1996.

Stadium Design and Financing References:
Philip Bess. City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. Knothole Press, 1999.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Common Courage Press, 1998.
Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. HarperCollins, 1997.
Kevin J. Delaney, Rick Eckstein. Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Brookings Institution, 1997.
Dean V. Baim. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Greenwood Publishing, 1994.
Stadia: A Design and Development Guide by Geraint John and Rod Sheard. Architectural Press, 2000.
Michelle Provoost, Matthjis Bouw and Camiel Van Winkel. The Stadium: Architecture of Mass Sport. NAI Publishers, 2000.

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USGS Photo

Year by Year statistics: for Cleveland Stadium

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