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Whatever happened to the signed beams at Jacobs Field?

September 3, 2018

Whatever happened to the signed beams at Jacobs Field?

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Progressive Field / Jacobs Field will mark a quarter century of hosting baseball games when the 2019 season opens.

Ground was broken in 1992 on the park that has hosted more than 2,000 games. But it was 25 years ago that fans had a chance to sign on to the project – literally.

Then-owner Dick Jacobs had suggested the idea for fans to sign support beams at the second Wahoo Winterfest held Feb. 6-7, 1993.

After drawing 6,000 people for the inaugural fest in 1992, the team attracted about 9,000 fans at the Marriott Society Center in downtown Cleveland in 1993. Admission was $5 and included seminars, player appearances, displays and more.

Initially, four steel beams were placed outside the center for fans to sign, said Glen Shumate, then Indians director of community relations and coordinator of the fest, at the time. But they quickly filled with signatures so four additional ones were brought in for the fest’s second day. Signatures soon were scrawled over them, too.

The Indians confirmed the beams are in the stadium but are not exposed.

They were incorporated into the East Ninth Street stair tower near the right-field gate, says Jim Folk, the team’s vice president of ballpark operations.

He said the beams, which are approximately 12 feet long and are covered by brickwork and concrete masonry units, are supporting stairs in right-center field.

Osborn Engineering, a firm with roots dating to the 19th century, worked on League Park, Cleveland Municipal Stadium and Jacobs Field.

The first game at Jacobs Field was played April 4, 1994. Eric Plunk earned the win in relief as the Tribe beat the Seattle Mariners, 4-3, in 11 innings.

The Indians’ 2019 home opener is Monday, April 1, against the Chicago White Sox. Cleveland will host Toronto on Thursday, April 4, the 25th anniversary of the stadium’s inaugural regular-season game.

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