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ROBINSON, Frank De Haas

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ROBINSON, Frank De Haas. (Pittsburg, PA, 1852--Sept. 25, 1908), Robinson was the son of Martin Stanford and Mariah Allison Robison. After spending his boyhood in Dubuque, he briefly attended Delaware University.

In 1877, Robison and his father-in-law Charles Hathaway organized Hathaway & Robison to build and operate street railway systems. Located at 611 Superior St. in Cleveland, the company established street railway systems throughout the United States and Canada. Robison personally organized the Cleveland City Cable Railway Company in 1889 and built 24 miles of cable lines on Payne and Superior Avenues. (1)

In 1893, he merged with Marcus A. Hanna's Woodland Avenue and West Side Street Railway to form the Cleveland City Railway Company. In the transaction, Robison lost his railway stock, control of the system, and $1 million when broker John Shipherd fraudulently sold the stock to Hanna and kept the proceeds. In a court settlement Robison acquired a substantial interest in the new railway Company. (2)

In 1887 Robison organized the Cleveland Forest Citys in 1887, affiliated with the American Association. He renamed his club the Cleveland Spiders in 1889 when he entered the National League. Two years later Robison built League Park on his Payne Ave. cable line at E. 66th St. and Lexington Ave. to increase ridership and baseball attendance. (3)

Frank, considered a friend of the minor leagues, successfully led efforts to increase the number on the board of directors of the National League. With another director, he established a majority of the board believing that the minor league was the "foundation and training school of the big league's success depended on the success of the minor organizations." (4)

The Spiders were successful until 1898, when Robison, angered by poor attendance, transferred its best players to the St. Louis team he had just purchased. He sold the Cleveland team to Charles Somers and John Kilfoyle in 1900. (5)



1. "ROBISON, FRANK DE HAAS." The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History Online: http://ech.cwru.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=RFDH

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. "Of Spider Fame," Dubuque Herald, March 12, 1897