Cleveland Stadium was built in an unsuccessful attempt to bring the 1932 Olympic Games to the Ohio metropolis. This impressive structure on the shore of Lake Erie was baseball's first large rationally-designed multipurpose stadium, accommodating baseball, football, track and special events in a symmetrical layout. For several decades it was the major league's largest venue, with a capacity of 77,797. It opened in 1932 as the Indians' home park, but in subsequent seasons the Tribe played only Sunday and holiday games there while the remainder of their home schedule was played at tiny League Park to economize on rent and operations. By 1947 the entire schedule had been moved to Cleveland Stadium. Thanks to its huge capacity, owner Bill Veeck's promotional genius, and a world championship team led by Bob Feller, Lou Boudreau, Larry Doby, Early Wynn, and Satchel Paige, the Tribe set a major-league attendance record (later broken) of 2.6 million in 1948.
The stadium’s oval, deep-roofed, double-decked grandstand extended well beyond the foul poles before giving way to uncovered bleachers, which were originally 463' from home plate in right- and left-center fields. In this form, it was an extreme pitcher's park. An inner fence was installed in April 1947, cutting the distance for most home runs by over 40 feet, and later adjustments shortened the outfield even more, making the park neutral with respect to scoring, and somewhat favorable for home runs. No ball ever reached the centerfield bleachers on the fly, although Jose Canseco once hit a 470-foot blast that landed in the slot between the bleachers and the left-field grandstands.
On September 12, 1954, the largest crowd in American League history (84,587) watched an Indians-Yankees game, but in later years poor Indians clubs and harsh winds from the nearby lake often left the cavernous stadium depressingly empty. During this time, the stadium became known as "the Mistake by the Lake" -- mostly among younger fans who had never experienced its earlier, more glorious days as a multi-sport palace. It was also home to the Cleveland Browns, many important college football games, boxing, track, large religious gatherings and even, on occasion, grand opera. (SCL/JP)
»July 3, 1980: The ML's largest crowd in seven years (73,096) watches Wayne Garland 2-hit the Yankees 7–0 at Cleveland Stadium.
»May 20, 1985: The Indians-Brewers game at Cleveland Stadium becomes the first one rained out this season, ending a record string of 458 ML games played since Opening Day without a payoff on a rain check. Since 1900, no season had survived without at least one April shower.