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Cleveland’s Sports Teams May Yet Be Trapped in the Web of the Spiders

Long before the woeful Cleveland Indians of the ‘80s, there were the dreadful Cleveland Spiders, who set standards in ineptitude that might never be equaled.

In 1899, the Cleveland Spiders finished in last place in the 12-team National League.

Their record?

20-134.

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The Spiders--they were given that nickname, according to old-timers, because of the “spindly physiques of the players"--were outscored, 1,252-529 and had losing streaks of 11 or more games on six occasions during the 1899 season. They ended the season on a roll, losing 40 of their last 41 games.

This from a book titled, “The Baseball Hall of Shame,” by Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo: “The Spiders were so bad that even their own loved ones wouldn’t come out to watch them. As a result, they played only 41 games of the 154-game schedule in Cleveland. They would have played more games on the road except the fed-up fans in other cities made the Spiders go home.”

The main reason the Spiders were so awful was that its owner, Frank DeHaas Robison, also owned the St. Louis Browns and greatly contributed to the Spiders’ demise by sending its best players to St. Louis.

One player that went from Cleveland to St. Louis in 1899 was a pitcher named Cy Young, who won 26 games for the Browns that season.

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Sarcastic Indian followers say it was the first of a century’s worth of bad trades in Cleveland baseball. The following year, the National League voted to abolish the Cleveland Spiders.


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