League Park was built for the Cleveland Spiders, who were founded in 1887 and played first in the American Association before joining the National League in 1889. Team owner Frank Robison chose the site for the new park, at the corner of Lexington Avenue and Dunham Street, later renamed East 66th Street, in Cleveland's Hough neighborhood, because it was along the streetcar line he owned. The park opened May 1, 1891, with 9,000 wooden seats, in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. The first pitch was made by Cy Young, and the Spiders won 12–3.
During their tenure, the Spiders finished as high as 2nd place in the NL in 1892, 1895, and 1896, and won the Temple Cup, an early version of the modern National League Championship Series, in 1895. During the 1899 season, however, the Spiders had most of their best players stripped from the roster and sent to St. Louis by their owners, who had purchased the St. Louis Browns that year. Consequently, Cleveland finished 20–134, and the Spiders season was so poor they drew only 6,088 fans for their entire home season - a pitiful average of 145 per game - and were forced to play 112 of their 154 games on the road as the other NL teams deemed it pointless to travel to Cleveland's League Park, since their cut of the ticket revenue would not come close to covering their travel and hotel expenses.
The team was contracted by the National League after 1899, being replaced the next year by the Cleveland Lake Shores, then a minor league team in the American League. The American League declared itself a major league after the 1900 season and the Cleveland franchise, initially called the Blues, was a charter member for the 1901 season.