May 28, 1900: An early morning fire at League Park destroys the main grandstand and part of the pavilion. All that was left standing was a 50 foot section of the pavilion down the right field line. Groundskeeper Marty Schwab, who lived at the corner of Western Avenue and York Street, discovered the fire at 3:30 AM, but it was too late to save the ballpark. Hundreds flocked to the site and sat in the bleachers to watch the facility go up in flames. For a time, it was feared that the fire would spread to teh nearby row houses on Findlay Street, but the homes were saved from the blaze. the clubhouse was also destroyed, along with the uniforms, shoes, gloves, and bats of the players.
The cause of the blaze was never discovered, but fire was a constant problem in the ballparks of the ear, as fans dropped cigars and cigarettes onto wooden floors and benches. Seven Reds home games in June against Chicago and St. Louis were played on the road while a new grandstand was built. After briefly considering a move to the old American Association ballpark in the East End, the Reds decided to relocate the diamond in the southeast corner of the same lot, where home plate was located from 1884 until 1893.
The gnarled mass of twisted metal and charred wood of the old grandstand was left untouched in deep left field until early in the 1901 season. According to a special ground rule, any ball that landed or rolled into the ruins was in play. A few players earned inside-the-park home runs on ball which disappeared into the timbers.
All “Reds trivia” posts come from Greg Rhodes and John Snyder’s fabulous book, “Redleg Journal” (see link for purchasing) and are used with Greg’s permission.
Thanks again to Greg Rhodes for permission to use his material.