5 fascinating facts about League Park

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Ken Krsolovic and Bryan Fritz talk about the legendary League Park in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Mentor Public Library.

Local authors and sports fans Ken Krsolovic and Bryan Fritz visited us earlier this week to talk about League Park – the legendary home of the Cleveland Indians for decades.

Here are five fascinating facts that we learned from listening to Krsolovic and Fritz.

1. One of the best pitchers the game has ever seen pitched for the Cleveland Spiders on League Park’s first Opening Day in 1891 – none other than Cy Young.

He’d pitch several more opening day games there before his retirement (and he’d win all but one of them.)

The authors brought artifacts with them, including a piece of League Park's Great Wall.

The authors brought artifacts with them, including a piece of League Park’s Great Wall.

2. Nap Lajoie was such a big star that when he came to Cleveland they renamed the team for him. However, when he joined the Cleveland Bronchos in 1902, he was in the midst of a legal kerfuffle with his previous team, the Phillies.

Due to an existing contract with the Phillies, a judge declared that Lajoie could only play baseball for them. However, an enterprising lawyer discovered that the injunction could only be enforced in Pennsylvania.

Consequently, when the Bronchos/Naps played the Athletics in 1902 and most of 1903, Lajoie would visit Atlantic City, instead. Peace wasn’t made between the National and American Leagues until 1903 with an agreement that also created the World Series.

3. League Park was initially constructed entirely of wood. But, by 1909, wood was no good.

More modern stadiums were made of steel and concrete. They could fit more seats, which meant more fans and more money.

For its upgrade, the Cleveland team relied on the legendary Osborn Engineering firm, which also designed Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Comiskey Park.

Most importantly, Osborn was then and still is headquartered in Cleveland.HB4116

4. League Park was the site of the Cleveland Indians first World Series victory in 1920. The Indians beat the Brooklyn Robins 5-2, which looks like a typo unless you know that from 1919 to 1921 the World Series was best of nine.

While the Indians won, no Robin had a worse series than Cleveland native Rube Marquard. Not only did his team lose, but he was convicted of ticket scalping (his punishment: $1 fine and $2.80 in court costs) and his wife divorced him the same week.

Marquard got something like the last laugh, seeing as he’s since been inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

5. League Park was also the scene of Joe DiMaggio’s 56th and final game in his legendary hitting streak.

The streak ended July 17, 1941 against the Indians in Cleveland Stadium. (The Indians would play weekday or afternoon games in League Park, which they owned. But they’d play weekend games, especially against more popular opponents, at the larger Cleveland Stadium.)

For more fun stories from League Park history, read Krsolovic and Fritz’s League Park: Historic Home of Cleveland Baseball, 1891-1946You can borrow one of our copies

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Dinosaur Dance Party at the Library

You roar! I roar! We all roar for dinosaurs during our Prehistoric Preschool Dance Party.

You roar! I roar! We all roar for dinosaurs during our Prehistoric Preschool Dance Party.

Kids can snap those jaws and move those claws during a dinosaur-themed preschool dance party at 1 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 25, at our Main Branch.

Children can have a pre-hysterical time with an afternoon of dancing, moving and grooving.

The party is open to all kids (two to six years old) and free to attend. However, we do require registration. You can sign up online or call us at (440) 255-8811 ext. 221.

By the way, if you want to host your own dance party at home, we have dozens of albums that you can either borrow from our collection or stream online for free.

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Discover the French Revolution

Learn about the origins and effects of the French Revolution during a special program on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Concord Township Community Center.

Learn about the origins and effects of the French Revolution during a special program on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Concord Township Community Center.

The French Revolution is one of the most pivotal moments in human history. The echoes from that revolution have resounded from 1789 through today.

Our resident historian Dr. John Foster will discuss what caused the French Revolution and how it changed the world during a special talk at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Concord Township Community Center—7671 Auburn Road, Concord Township.

In addition to being a reference librarian, Foster has a doctorate degree in history. He has taught history at both high school and college levels.

This special program is free to attend and open to all. People can register by calling the Concord Township Community Center at (440) 639-4650.

By the way, each year Foster gives a series of lectures about American history. His previous topics include the Battles of World War II and US Presidents of the 20th Century. This year, he’ll discuss the American Revolution.

The series begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, at our Main Branch. The topic is the origins of the Revolution.

Finally, if you’re interested, most of Foster’s previous historical talks can be viewed in their entirety on our YouTube channel.

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5 Facts about the Garfield Family & Mentor Public Library

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Debbie Weinamker of WeMadeHistory and Alan Gephardt of James A. Garfield National Historic Site as Lucretia and James R. Garfield at Mentor Public Library.

We’re fortunate to be neighbors with the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. They lead a monthly a Civil War series at our Main Branch and are a wonderful resource to have nearby.

Moreover, the Garfield family has a long history of supporting Mentor Public Library. As part of our 200th anniversary celebration, we invited Lucretia Garfield and James R. Garfield – the wife and son of President James A. Garfield, respectively – to the library to discuss that history.

Granted, both Lucretia and James are posthumous. So we did the next best thing and enlisted Debbie Weinmaker of WeMadeHistory to portray Lucretia and Alan Gephardt of Garfield National Historic Site play her son on Saturday at our Main Branch.

Here are five facts we learned about the Garfield family and their love for libraries:

1. The Mentor Library pre-existed the Garfield family’s involvement but its whole setup would be odd to us nowadays. In 1819, the Mentor Library Company formed, but its collection of 79 books was only available to shareholders who paid $2.50 per share.

The notion of a Mentor Library – free to use for Mentor Township and Mentor Village residents – was the dream of James R. Garfield. Garfield (the son, to be clear) was elected president of the library’s board in 1890, and he served in that role until 1927.

In the meantime, he was involved in state and national politics and served as Secretary of the Interior during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration.

2. Before the library had its own building, it was housed in Mentor Village Hall.

The Garfield family wanted the library to have a home of its own – complete with a reading room.

To raise money for the library, the Garfield family hosted “entertainments,” including:

The most lucrative entertainment was a melodrama starring Mary “Mollie” Garfield and entitled “The Sleeping Car.” It raised $107.15.

They raised another $11 by auctioning a cake. James R. Garfield had the winning bid, but he had to borrow $10 because he only had a dollar in his pocket at the time.

3. In May of 1895, the Mentor Village Council raised a half-mill levy to support the library. It provided the library with $160 a year, rendering the entertainments superfluous and paving the way for Mentor Library’s first building.

The architect was, naturally, another member of the Garfield clan. Abram Garfield, Lucretia’s son and James R. Garfield’s brother, designed the building in the New England style.

The land was purchased from a Dr. Lester Luse for $2,200. When both land and building were totaled, the new building cost $7,693. At the time, it stood at the corner of Mentor Avenue and Center Street.

This first library building still exists, by the way. However, we no longer own it and it serves a different purpose now.

4. In 1926, toward the end of his tenure as board president, the library was renamed in honor of James R. Garfield.

The rebranding only lasted 24 years and the Garfield Public Library was renamed again in 1950. (This time, it became Mentor Public Library and the name’s stuck thus far.) But we still commemorate James R. Garfield and his contribution to the library. One of the meeting rooms in our Main Branch is named in his honor.

5. The Garfield family was immensely literate. President James A. Garfield understood both Greek and Latin and was rumored to be able to write both simultaneously. He especially enjoyed poetry by Alfred Tennyson and William Wordsworth and, as a child, had a fondness for books about pirates.

He and Lucretia would read to the children around the parlor table from Lamb’s Shakespeare and One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. They would often quiz their children’s spelling, using 7,000 Words Often Mispronounced in the English Language.

As for the son, James R. Garfield enjoyed the outdoors and spent what little free time he had fishing, hunting and playing tennis. But he still had a predilection for William Makepeace Thackeray and Charles Dickens novels as an adult.

Click here for more information on Mentor Public Library’s history and here for more on our year-long celebration of our 200th anniversary.

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Discover the history of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens

Discover the

Discover the history of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park during a special program on Feb. 26 at Mentor Public Library.

You may already be familiar with the loveliness of Cleveland Cultural Gardens – the more than 30 themed gardens that beautify the drive along Martin Luther King Jr. and East boulevards in Cleveland – but do you know their history?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was originally named Liberty Boulevard, and it honored the young men from Cleveland who fought and died in World War I. The gardens were planned as a path to represent the many cultures of our world that came together in Cleveland.

You can learn more about the history and origin of the Liberty Gardens during a special program at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at our Main Branch. The talk is free to attend and open to all. The library only asks that people register beforehand. You can sign up online or call the library at (440) 255-8811 ext. 247.

The talk will be led by Rebecca McFarland, a fourth-generation Clevelander and expert on local history. Her expertise has been featured on A&E’s Biography and the History Channel.

Take Holden home with you with this special collecting from Corning Library.

Take Holden home with you with this special collecting from Corning Library.

By the way, if you love gardens or gardening, you should check out the new special collection from Holden Arboretum’s Corning Library at our Main Branch.

In addition to a gorgeous arboretum in Kirtland, Holden has a spectacular collection of gardening, horticulture, environmental and botany books within its Corning Library.

Dozens of Corning Library’s books are now available to borrow at our Main Branch. Thanks to a partnership between libraries, you can use your cards to check out books from this special collection. Our typical lending rules apply.

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