1890 —1892: The Cyclone Blows into Town
THE CLEVELAND CLUB that Cyclone Young joined in 1890 was among the most embattled franchises in the National League. Founded in 1887 as a member of the American Association, the team transferred its affiliation to the National League two years later. At the same time it acquired its popular but unofficial nickname of Spiders, reportedly a reference to the gauntness of some of its players. The chief owner of the franchise was Frank DeHaas Robison, a Cleveland trolley magnate with ties to the Republican Party. 1 A prominent sports enthusiast, Robison believed that he could serve both of his financial interests by creating an attractive professional baseball team and building a playing field for it along his Payne Avenue streetcar line. The difficulty facing Robison and his colleagues was the relative paucity of high-quality ball players, a problem g reatly exacerbated in 1890 by the appearance of the Players League. Not only did this league draw players away from the Spiders and other teams in the National League and American Association, it also challenged the Spiders directly by locating a franchise in Cleveland. 2 It was a fight that the Spiders were losing; while neither Cleveland entry was competitive in its own league in 1890, the Players League club, by featuring league batting champion Pete Browning and the popular local lad Ed Delahanty, was outdrawing the Spiders. 3 The Forest City could not support two major league teams, and the Spiders seemed the feebler of the contenders.
In this competitive climate, and preceded by a flurry of newspaper hype about the marvelous new “Canton Cyclone, ” Dent Young pitched his first game for the Cleveland club on August 6, 1890. Though the Spiders' opponent was the powerful Chicago Colts club, led by the already