I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Lutheran hospital. Lived on the West Side in a townhouse along 25th Street, not far from downtown or Municipal Stadium (AKA) Lakefront Stadium. My father and my grandfather both worked in the foundry and in the steel mills. As a young boy, in the summer I would walk the streets with a few neighborhood kids looking for a ball game or a place to play in the school playgrounds. At that time, at least in my memory, we would leave the house in the morning and return in the evening tired and hungry. But it was a good time. I spent most of my summers there until I was 14. I was never afraid to walk the streets and would often cross Lorain Avenue by the underpass to watch the Industrial League softball games in the evenings, in the fields near Lake Erie
Cleveland was my hometown, the Indians were my team, and the lake was my hobby. One of our neighbors, Mr Peck, was a usher at the stadium and I often went with him, which meant a day at the ball park and a free drink and a hot dog with the best mustard ever.
I met a lot of former players and I had cards and autographs. In 1958, when I was at a game, I was with Mr. Peck when he had the chance to talk to a few players before the game, Peck was chatting with Mudcat Grant and Bob Lemon, two of India’s top pitchers, with Herb Score. He also spent time that day with Russ Nixon, Dick Brown, Rocky Colavito and Minnie Minoso. Peck knew them all. I had all of their signatures, but as always they were misplaced or thrown away. Who would have known they would be worth anything.
The old softball games were just as fun as going to the Indian games. Almost every business in town had a team and they came from all over the world. But, watching them play was fascinating, a lot of these guys could have been pros themselves. My favorite team was the Carling Black Label team. Always near the top of the league. It was a time like any other, if all the kids today could experience it we would definitely have a better world. Along the lake, less than a mile from my home on West 25th, was Edgewater Beach Park, a great place to spend a day at the lake, swim, and have a picnic. And, another three or four miles to the east was one of the best parks in the country, Euclid Beach Park. What an amusement park. It was once a week for us 10 cents admission. The best food and the best rides ever and the best beach for swimming.
Cleveland was a top notch place, very diverse and with a lot of kind and generous people from all over the world, to this day I still love going. I love standing on the street looking at Terminal Tower, remembering the 1,000-room old Cleveland hotel where all the ball teams used to stay and eating at Rosie’s cafeteria where my mom worked making the daily specials. , especially its homemade spaghetti sauce. We could eat there for breakfast or lunch and mom could take a break and feed us.
Cleveland Stadium officially opened in 1931, with a seating capacity of over 74,000 and was one of the first multi-purpose stadiums, built to accommodate both baseball and football.
Former Browns owner Art Modell took over the city’s stadium in the 1970s and although his organization made improvements to the facility, it continued to decline. The Indians played their last game at the stadium in October 1993 and moved to Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) the following season. Cleveland Stadium was demolished in 1996 to make way for Cleveland Browns Stadium (now FirstEnergy Stadium), which opened in 1999.
I had a visitor Wednesday last week who knows more about Cleveland than I do. I was surprised how long we could sit back and talk about the old days of Cleveland baseball and many other sports related topics. Coach Dave Cisar is like talking to a living dictionary, I enjoyed our visit and invited him to stop by the office anytime. He’s a great guy and I wish him the best for his retirement. I guess you’ll see it quite often in town and on the ball fields. He’s a winner!
Speaking of winners, I was happy to see Paden City junior basketball player Joel Moore have a great game on the road against Beallsville, where he scored 49 points last week. What a great performance 23 baskets, six three-pointers and 15-21 free throws. Completed with six steals, eight rebounds and two assists. Don’t ask me where the assists come from, but they’re in the book! we will search “Moore” the same with him.
Not much is happening this week due to the holidays, but if COVID is left out we’ll have a ton of sports taking place in the next couple of months. Try to attend a game or two if you can, it will lift the kids up and provide the much-needed support. Many thanks also to Teran Malone for his good coverage of local sports. He did a great job recently covering one boys’ home game at Paden City and another great one covering the Monroe Central and Magnolia game. Teram is an intern at Metro News and by all indications he has found his job. Good job Teran!