With opening day right around the corner and the Blue Jays set to begin the 2012 campaign in Cleveland, here are a few points of interest fans from the Great White North might want to consider when making the trip down.
Dress Warm – High of 12 with a low of 3 (Thursday)
Us Canadians are known for our resiliency to cold weather but Cleveland can be an exception to that rule during the early few months of the season. I have been down there in early May when it has been fine during the day but deadly after the sun went down. Don’t be afraid to layer up, you wont regret it come the 7th inning stretch.
Municipal Stadium -1085 West 3rd Street
Although the original stadium is gone, the site of the “Mistake by the Lake” is worth a quick stop for Blue Jay fans. On September 2nd 1990, Dave Stieb tossed the first and only no hitter in Blue Jay history at the once expansive ball park. If you listen closely, you can still hear those hard Sliders popping Pat Borders glove.
LeaguePark – Lexington Ave & E 66th St.
Another former Indian stronghold, LeaguePark still exists today. Well, parts of the legendary park still exist in a run down rural area of Cleveland. This was the park where DiMaggio’s streak would record it’s final hit in ’41, the streak would come to an end at Municipal Stadium on July 17th. Other notable events include Babe Ruth’s 500th career HR, site of the Indians 1st World Series title and home field for the 1945 Negro League Champion Cleveland Buckeyes.
Lakeview Cemetery–12316 Euclid Avenue
For those history aficionado’s, Ray Chapman’s name may ring s bell. Playing for the Indians in 1920, SS Ray Chapman was hit in the head with a pitch off Yankees RHP Carl Mays. The result lead to Chapman’s death at the young age of 29, becoming the 2nd MLB player to die due to an injury caused during a game.
Mays, a Submarine style Pitcher, was said to of thrown a pitch high and inside on the Cleveland SS but Chapman never saw the ball and stood still at the plate as the deadly pitch came in. Following his death, MLB banned the practice of “Mudding” the ball while making it mandatory for the umpire to replace any ball deemed to be too dirty for play. This of course changed the way the game was played taking an edge away from Pitchers who would use the technique to deceive hitters. It is also said that Chapman’s death played a role in the banning of the “Spitball” pitch.
Cleveland’s brass erected a plaque in his honor that stood at both LeaguePark and Municipal Stadium before being taken down for reasons unknown. In 2007, workers discovered the plaque in a storage room at the Jake leading to its refurbishment and eventual placement in Cleveland’s Heritage Park, located behind CF at Progressive field. Chapman is buried at Cleveland’s Lakeview Cemetery