1887: Three years after the National League’s Cleveland Blues folded they were reformed by street car tycoon Frank Robison. The new Cleveland Blues would play at the Kennard Street Grounds in the rival American Association were managed by Jimmy Williams. The new Blues struggled early, losing 13 of their first 14 games, as they spend the entire season at or near the bottom of the standings. The Cleveland Blues would finish in last place among eight teams with a record of 39-92.
1888: The Cleveland Blues continued to struggle under Manager Jimmy Williams, losing their first seven games. The Blues again were at the bottom of the American Association when Williams was dismissed holding a record of 20-44 on July 15th. The change was just what Cleveland needed as they won six of their first seven games under Tom Loftus. While, they would not keep up that pace the Blues were more competitive the remainder of the season climbing to fifth in the standings with a final record of 50-82.
1889: After two seasons in the American Association the Cleveland Blues switched to the National League changing their name to the Cleveland Spiders. The name came because a number of the players on the team were so skinny. The Spiders who continued to be managed by Tom Loftus played well early in the season holding a record of 39-21 and sitting in first place on July 6th. However, after spending most of the first two months in second place the bottom would fall out for the Spiders as the rains seemingly came and washed them all away. The Spiders would post a record of 22-51 over their last 73 games, finishing sixth with a record of 61-72.
1890: The Cleveland Spiders late season struggles continued under new Manager Gus Schmelz. The Spiders would struggle under Schmelz post a record of 21-55 before he was replaced by Bob Leadley. The Spiders would slightly play better under Leadley finishing with a record of 44-88 and finishing in seventh place. One notable debut for the Spiders was a 23-year old farm boy from Gilmore, Ohio who pitched against the Chicago Colts on August 6th. Denton True Young would win his first start 7-1, and post a record of 9-7 with a 3.47 ERA. Denton True Young would be called the Cyclone for the way he threw the baseball. The name Cyclone would be shortened to Cy as he would become known as Cy Young, the man who would set the record for most career wins and have the award for pitching excellence named after him.
1891: The Cleveland Spiders got a new ballpark as Frank Robison built League Park in Northeast Cleveland. Cy Young would start the first game at the Spiders’ new stadium, delivering a 12-3 win against the Cincinnati Reds. In his first full season in the majors, Cy Young would post a record of 27-22 with an ERA of 2.85. The Spiders best hitter was George Davis who batted .289 with three home runs and 89 runs driven in. On the field the Spiders still struggled under Bob Leadley as they managed just a 34-34 record before he was replaced by Patsy Tebeau. The Spiders would go on to finish in fifth place with a record of 65-74.
1892: With Patsy Tebeau managing the Cleveland Spiders had a break out season, posting a record of 93-56. That season saw four teams join the National League from the American Association, leaving the NL with a dozen teams. The new bigger league would play a split season, and the Spiders would finish the second half in first place with a 53-23. Leading the way for the Spiders was Cy Young, who posted a record of 36-12 with an ERA of 1.93. After the season the Spiders would face the first half champion Boston Beaneaters in six game exhibition. However, things would not work out for Cleveland, as the Beaneaters won the series 5-0-1.
1893: The Cleveland Spiders thanks to the pitching of Cy Young who again led the team with a record of 34-16. The Spiders offense was led by Buck Ewing who batted .344 with six home runs and 122 RBI. The Spiders offense was strong up and down the line up as Jesse Burkett led the team in hitting at .348 adding, six homers and 82 RBI. Meanwhile Ed McKean drove in 133 runs, while batting .310. The Spiders would however, fall short of the pennant finishing in third place with a record of 73-55.
1894: With a dozen teams the National League was crowded in the 1890’s and a team that slumped at any time was in danger of falling out of the chase for the pennant. That was the story of the Cleveland Spiders who finished in the middle of the pack with a record 68-61 to finish in sixth place. Cy Young had his struggles to posting a record of 26-21, Nig Cuppy also had a solid season winning 24 games, and losing 15.
1895: The Cleveland Spiders had their strongest season to date, as they were one of the best teams in the National League. Once again Cy Young and Nig Cuppy were at the front end of the pitching staff. Young was nearly unbeatable, posting a record of 35-10 with an ERA of 3.26, while Cuppy was 26-14 with a 3.54 ERA. The Spiders got an especially strong season from Jesse Burkett who led the league with a .405 average, adding five home runs and 83 RBI. The Spiders power was supplied by Ed McKean who led the team with eight home runs and 119 RBI, while batting .341. The Spiders would spend most of the summer in first place and ended the year in second with a solid record of 84-46. Following the season, the National League hosted a series between the two top teams with the Temple Cup on the line. The series would not be too popular among fans or players, but the Spiders would emerge victorious winning the series four games to one.
1896: After winning the Temple Cup, the Cleveland Spiders were once again one of the best teams in the National League. Nig Cuppy and Cy Young continued to dominate on the mound, combing for 53 wins. Meanwhile Jesse Burkett had an even stronger season, winning the batting title for a second straight season, while becoming the second player in baseball history to record two season over .400, batting .410, with six home runs and 72 RBI. Meanwhile Shortstop Ed McKean continued to supply the power for Cleveland with seven home runs while driving in 112. The Spiders again would finish in second place with a record of 80-48. After the season the Spiders would attempt to defend the Temple Cup, but this time they would be swept in four games by the first place Baltimore Orioles.
1897 The Cleveland Spiders were unable to maintain their success, as they slipped to fifth place. Injuries were a cause of some of their problems as Nig Cuppy made just 19 starts, posting a record of 10-6, while Cy Young had an up and down season winning 21 and losing 19. Cy Young did have one big highlight during the season, as he pitched his first career No Hitter, earning a 6-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of a September 18th double header at League Park. The Spiders would end the year with a record of 69-62.
1898: The seeds of the Cleveland Spiders destruction would be planted, as Owner Frank Robison purchased the St. Louis Brown Stockings. The National League began making plans to shrink from 12 teams to eight as it approached the 20th Century. The Spiders were a solid team but never quite had the strong attendance Robison had hoped for. While a strong team they were not entire financially successful, while St. Louis had a strong fan base despite a second division ball club. While owning both teams the Spiders again were solid, though they would again finish in fifth place with a record of 81-68 as St. Louis finished dead last with a record of 39-111. Following the season Frank Robison would shift his best players from Cleveland to St. Louis. Including, Cy Young who posted a record of 25-13 in his final season in Cleveland.
1899: As Frank Robison took over newly renamed St. Louis Perfectos, his brother Stanley stood behind and planned to run the Spiders as a sideshow. The Spiders would begin the season with a roster that would barely compete at the top minor league levels as the Perfectos had taken most of their roster. The Perfectos led by Patsy Tebeau would host the Spiders now managed Lave Cross, winning the game 10-1. It was a clear right away that the Spiders would be a complete farce in their final season. Fans would not take kindly to being treated like a side show, as the Spiders totaled 3,179 fans, or an average of 199 fans per game in their first 16 games at League Park. Due to the meager attendance figures, the other 11 National League teams refused to come to Cleveland, as their cut of the revenue from ticket sales would not cover their hotel and travel expenses. The League would decide that the Spiders would play most of the season on the road, playing just eight of their final 93 games in Cleveland. As the season wore on things would only get worse for the Spiders. Player-Manager Lave Cross would step down after posting an 8-30 record in his first 38 games as he was given the chance to return to St. Louis where he had played previously. Demonstrating further the conflict of interest the Robisons had turning the National League Spiders into a minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Perfectos. Jack Quinn would manage the Spiders the remaining of the season. Things would only continue to get worse for the Spiders, whose total season attendance was a mere 6,088 in 42 games an average of 145 fans per game in a 9,000 seat League Park. At home the Spiders would post a record of 9-33, while on the road they were even worse winning 11 games and losing 101. When it was all done, the Cleveland Spiders set standards in losing that would never be matched, posting a record of 20-134. Jack Quinn who managed the final 116 games, would lose 104 games. Following the season, the National League would outlaw cross ownership and the Spiders would be one of four teams that would fold. Similar situations existed in Baltimore and Louisville, where the once great Orioles were being raided in a similar way by the Brooklyn Superbas, while the Louisville Colonels were being plundered by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
1900: The Robisons sold the assets of the Cleveland Spiders to Charles Somers and John Kilfoyle who kept the team afloat as minor league franchise in the Western League and renaming the team the Cleveland Lake Shores. The Western League was run by Ban Johnson who saw the 1899 fiasco that led to the folding of four National League teams as an opportunity. He would begin to make the Western League a Major League and in 1901, big league baseball was back in Cleveland as the Western League was renamed the American League, with the Cleveland Blues being among eight charter franchises. The new Cleveland Blues would go on to become the Cleveland Indians.
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Page created on January 17, 2016. Last updated on February 13, 2016 at 11:45 pm ET.