Mayor Backs Plan To Restore Indians' Old Home

CLEVELAND (AP) - Babe Ruth played there. So did Satchel Paige.

Now, Mayor Jane Campbell is backing a plan to allow future generations of ballplayers to swing for the fences at inner-city League Park.

The plan calls for restoring the park and building a museum dedicated to the Cleveland Indians and the Negro Leagues, which both played there.

Councilwoman Fannie Lewis has pitched the plan for 20 years for the park in the city's east-side Hough neighborhood.

"You can't kill a good idea," Lewis said. "League Park is going to be the shining piece for the city of Cleveland. ... The seeds that we planted years ago have finally taken root."

Former Mayor Michael R. White wanted to expand a playground at League Park.

"It would be an injustice to just treat it as a recreational area," Campbell aide Jeff Johnson said. "The idea is to restore League Park to its original grandeur."

Ruth hit his 500th home run at League Park. The first World Series grand slam was hit there. It was where the Indians won the World Series in 1920 and the Cleveland Buckeyes won the Negro League World Series in 1945.

White awarded a contract to restore League Park's ticket office before his final term ended, and Campbell plans to re-dedicate the building this fall.

The ultimate goal is to convert two ball fields at the site into one and place it exactly where it was in League Park's heyday, said Jim Glending, acting parks chief.

"When you stand at home plate ... you'll stand exactly where Babe Ruth was," Glending said.

Campbell has appointed a committee to raise private donations for the $13 million restoration. Glending plans to ask major league baseball for a contribution.

When the job is complete, possibly in three years, League Park will have seats for 4,000, and Johnson said the city will invite the Indians to play their final spring training game there.

Another beneficiary would be East Technical High School, which plays its home games at League Park.

"I'll tell you what -- everyone will be scheduling a game with East Tech," Glending said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)