I arrived at the main branch of the Cleveland Public Library on schedule today for a 1:30 p.m. meeting and found everybody outside on the sidewalk — along with plenty of cops from the Bomb Squad. Around noon someone noticed a suspicious man set down a package and walk away from it. He walked straight out the front door. That might be a bomb, someone said. The phone call was made and the entire library was evacuated. All the streets surrounding the library were closed, barricaded by police cruisers with flashing lights. Superior Ave. and Rockwell were closed from Public Square to East Ninth Street. I parked a few blocks away at a meter and, naturally, got a $25 parking ticket. Meter Maids thrive on the misfortune of people who must do business in downtown Cleveland. Why is downtown Cleveland dying and business is burgeoning at South Park and Crocker Park? Free parking, stupid!
Anyway, it was not a bomb. The downtown library reopened at 1:45 and the bookworms returned to their stacks.
I was there for the terrific sports collection on the fifth floor — a large room which includes the vast baseball collections of Charles W. Mears and Eugene C. Murdock. The section also features 100 oral history tapes recorded with Major League players from the early 20th century. I listened to part of an interview with perfect game pitcher Ernie Shore, recorded in 1978 when he was 87 years old. If you want to listen to some of these interviews with players who are long gone, go to http://www.cpl.org and click on research, then click on digital gallery and enter these words, murdock baseball oral history collection.
There are some interesting plans to expand the oral histories under the aegis of director Michael Ruffing. Stay tuned for further information.