Baseball is back at historic Cleveland ballpark

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — Baseball is back at the historic League Park, former home of the Cleveland Indians, located at the intersection of Lexington and East 66th Street on the east side.

Years of renovations culminated in a grand re-opening of the ballpark Saturday.

Built where trolleys one stopped in the Hough neighborhood, League Park hosted baseball greats like Cy Young and Bob Feller, and it’s where Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run. The park faded away after the Indians moved to Municipal Stadium in 1947.

“My father-in-law, born in 1909, never missed Babe Ruth playing in this ballpark,” said Jim Stamper, of Cleveland, who was one of hundreds to attend Saturday’s ceremony. “Just the history of this ballpark is why I wanted to come back and see where it all began.”

Ted Toles, 88, of Warren, played on the Cleveland Buckeyes at the field in the late 1940s and returned Saturday.

“I thought a little guy would never be playing baseball with a great guy like Jackie Robinson,” he said.

The city rebuilt the field for community use, keeping its original building. The project cost more than $6 million and took more than six years to complete. Summer league and high school baseball teams are among those expected to play on the revamped field.

A neighboring field sits on a park named in honor of former Cleveland City Councilwoman Fannie Lewis.

“Just a tremendous, tremendous number of great players played here, and now you can go out and be on the field and stand where they stood and hit where they hit,” said Bryan Fritz, co-author of “League Park: Historic Home of Cleveland Baseball.”

The park also boasts a museum with uniform, pictures and pieces of Cleveland baseball glory. It is history that many people hope will inspire the Hough neighborhood’s future.

“This absolutely what kids now need,” said Brenda Hampton, who attended the ceremony. “If this ain’t promising, I don’t know what is.”

For more on League Park, click here.

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