The Cleveland Spiders were an American professional baseball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The team competed at the major league level from 1887 to 1899, first for two seasons as a member of the now-defunct American Association (AA), followed by eleven seasons in the National League (NL). Early names for the team included the Forest Citys and Blues. The name Spiders itself emerged early in the team's inaugural NL season of 1889, owing to new black-and-gray uniforms and the skinny, long-limbed look of many players (thereby evoking the spider arachnid). National League Park served as the team's home for its first four seasons until the opening of League Park in 1891.
Amid seven straight winning seasons under manager Patsy Tebeau, the team finished second in the National League three times – in 1892, 1895, and 1896. While the Spiders never won the National League pennant, the club did win the 1895 Temple Cup, a two-team league championship playoff predating the World Series. The Spiders beat that year's pennant winner, the Baltimore Orioles (unrelated to the modern franchise), four games to one in a best-of-seven game series. Six Spiders players were later inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, including left fielder Jesse Burkett and pitcher Cy Young.
In 1899, owners Frank and Stanley Robison purchased a second team – the bankrupt St. Louis NL franchise – and sent all of the Spiders' top talent to that club, including future Hall-of-Famers Young, Burkett, and Bobby Wallace. The resulting Spiders roster finished the 1899 season 20–134, a record which remains the worst for a single season in major league history. The Spiders were subsequently one of four teams contracted by the National League that year. Partly in response to the Robison brothers' actions – which effectively ended the Spiders franchise – the practice of "syndicate ownership" was later banned.
Spiders outfielder Louis Sockalexis played for the team during its final three seasons and is often credited as the first Native American to play professional baseball. The Cleveland Indians, major league successor to the Spiders in Cleveland, have long cited Sockalexis as inspiration for their team name, though that claim is disputed.