Photograph © Robert K. Shoop
Municipal Stadium opened in 1932 to a record 80,000 fans who came to check out the massive new Cleveland Indians home. At first, building such a huge facility seemed to be a great idea… with 80,000 selling out the inaugural game (which saw Lefty Grove of the Philadelphia Athletics shut out the Indians 1-0). They wouldn’t see that very often however… in fact, they would barely ever see that again. The Indians drew 469,000 in 1932 with a team that featured future Hall of Famer, Earl Averill who was the team’s star batting .314 with 37 2B and 32 HR along with a very impressive 124 RBI. Bill Cissell meanwhile batted .320 with 35 2B and 6 HR for the Indians’ best average. On the mound, Wes Ferrell was outstanding posting a 23-13 record with a 3.66 ERA. The Indians finished in 4th place with an 87-65 record for their first season at the Mistake… a pretty good start, but one that was shortlived. By 1933, the team was a game under .500 as Oral Hildebrand provided the best record going 16-11, 3.76 and Mel Harder 15-17, 2.95 led the team in ERA. Earl Averill however had an off season batting .301 with 39 2B and 11 HR, which still led the team as only Odell Hale (19 2B, 10 HR, .276) reached double digits in HRs. The players immediately blamed the stadium's expansive outfield for their low production. Fans began to also complain bitterly about the terrible sightlines and their further proximity from the action. Attendance slid all the way down to 388k and the Indians decided to return to League Park, where their attendance had been over the 500k mark from 1929-1930. At only 2 years of age, Cleveland Municipal Stadium would go completely dark to professional baseball for a period of 2 years and even then only being used as a temporary home for many years after that. It wasn’t until 1936, that the Indians began playing some ballgames here again, mostly on holidays and weekends. In 1939, the Indians began moving night games here since League Park didn’t have any lighting, but it wasn’t until 1940, 6 years after leaving their brand new stadium abandoned except for select games, that the Indians began to make this their regular home again. Even then, they continued to play at League Park on select days until they finally made this their full time permanent home in 1946. Because of this, it is not until 1940 that we can start counting records here again.