Tag Archives: Washington Senators

Posts about the Washington Senators, a pair of of Major League Baseball teams. The original played in the American League from 1901-1960 before Calvin Griffith moved them and they become the Minnesota Twins. The second Senators franchise played from 1961-1971, until Bob Short moved them to the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex where they became the Texas Rangers.

Video: Babe Ruth vs. Walter Johnson and Lou Gerhig on the first day of his streak

Tuesday’s Uni-Watch linked to a great post about a fantastic find – old film Babe Ruth batting against Walter Johnson. It was more than that though, as it was June 1, 1925 which was the day that Ruth came back from the “Belly Ache Heard ’round the World.” It gets even better, not only was The Babe back and facing perhaps the greatest pitcher of all time, but in the dugout is a young player who would pinch hit later that day and then play another 2,129 consecutive games. Lou Gerhig‘s 2,130 game streak began the day of this film.

Before you watch the video, read how Tom Shieber concluded it was June 1, 1925 – Some Very Fortunate Footage (Baseball Researcher)

Great stuff, I’ll see if I can find a cleaner, Olberman-less video tonight.

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R.I.P. Dick Heller, long-time Wash. Times sports columnist

Dick Heller, longtime Washington Times sports columnist, dead at 76

A Northwest Washington native, Heller began working for newspapers when he was in high school, covering high school sports for The Washington Daily News. He also worked for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Alexandria Gazette before joining The Washington Star, where he covered University of Maryland athletics until the newspaper closed in 1981…

…Following a stint at The Miami Herald, Heller joined The Washington Times in 1986, and he became a columnist in the early 1990s. He remained with the newspaper until it folded its sports section in December 2009, then contributed bi-weekly columns for a time after the section returned in March 2011.

Heller covered the Washington Senators in the 1960s and was featured in a documentary or two about the D.C. baseball. My favorite columns of his were about the end of Griffith Stadium and his anti-Texas Rangers ones, though the alternative turned out to be a bit unpalatable as well.

I read and linked to many Heller columns over the years, some of which you can find here.

WHAT HIS COLLEAGUES ARE SAYING

WELP, NOBODY’S PERFECT

I will probably add to this post as more tributes and obituaries come in. There are some kind words for Heller on the Washington D.C. Baseball History Facebook group.

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1950s prototype Washington Nationals jersey discovered

gilmourNationals 016.jpg
Wednesday’s Uni Watch, showed several photos of a prototype 1950 Washington Nationals road jersey from the collection of Tony Cocchi. Apparently, after many years of wearing a block W, there was talk of putting the official team name on the jersey. Back then, Senators and Nationals were used interchangeably, but the former name had more currency than the latter. The original American League team became the Nationals in 1905 because Senators was a “hoodoo nickname.” You may recall the silly “ESTABLISHED 1905″ patch on the 2005 Nats. The 1905 and 1906 Nats jerseys also became the first to have the team name on them before adopting a W or “WASHINGTON” on their jerseys.

In 2004, Charlie Brotman explained to me that he found there was not a consensus on the name and he decided on Senators once and for all when he took over team PR in the mid-1950s. A few years later, in 1959, the jerseys were the first to have a team name in over 50 years — they said “Senators.” That continued the next year too, but then Calvin Griffith moved the team because he was a racist. The expansion Senators continued to use the Senators name on their home (and later road) jerseys until Bob Short moved them to, as Shirley Povich put it, “some jerk town with the single boast it is equidistant from Dallas and Fort Worth.”

I do not know why the “Nationals” jersey did not get used in 1950 — they stuck with a W on both the home and road jerseys, a fairly common look over the years of DC baseball. I wonder if there was a home prototype that looked similar.

When baseball returned to D.C., so did the Nationals nickname — these days, “Senators” might be too offensive. The current Nats pay homage to that on their home and alternate jerseys, but with a curly W over the left breast instead of a block one. For a few years, the current Nats also used a very similar script as the 1950 prototype in their “NatsTown” branding, but the “script curly N” has been replaced with a not-at-all curly N.

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Nats: “You’ve Gotta Have Heart” book signing on Thursday

There is a brand new book about D.C. baseball is coming out – “You Gotta Have Heart” by Frederic Frommer, an AP reporter. On Thursday, August 22, 7 p.m., at the Grand Slam Sports Bar in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, at 1000 H Street NW (between 10th and 11th Streets in the Penn Quarter neighborhood). The event is sponsored by the DC Baseball Society. If you’d like to come, email Frommer at fjf67@yahoo.com, so he can get a good head count. Here is the description:

“First in War, First in Peace . . . and Last in the American League.” Expressions such as this characterized the legend and lore of baseball in the nation’s capital, from the pioneering Washington Nationals of 1859 to the Washington Senators, whose ignominious departure in 1971 left Washingtonians bereft of the national pastime for thirty-three years. This reflective book gives the complete history of the game in the D.C. area, including the 1924 World Series championship team and the Homestead Grays, the perennial Negro League pennant winners from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s who consistently outplayed the Senators. New chapters describe the present-day Nationals, who, in 2012, won the National League East led by the arms of Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg and the bats of Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and rookie Bryce Harper. The book is filled with the voices of current and former players, along with presidents, senators, and political commentators who call the team their own.

Looks like a must-have for every D.C. baseball fan.

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Bryce Harper in 2013 Home Run Derby; Harmon Killebrew vs. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays in the 1960 TV version

Bryce Harper in the cage
Tonight is annual Home Run Derby as part of the All-Star Game festivities at Citi Field New Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.,. Bryce Harper will be the first Washington Nationals representative in the Derby and his father, Ron, is pitching to him (The Wash. Times).

Err, let’s hope not. I’ll have more to contribute to the Nats’ 1st half later in the week.

Before becoming part of the All-Star experience, “Home Run Derby” was a 1960 television show hosted by Mark Scott. Sluggers from both leagues played against each other, though not necessarily interleague. The venue was Los Angeles Wrigley Field, long-time Pacific Coast League home of the Los Angeles Angels and for 1961, the expansion A.L. Angels’ home. From the Wikipedia entry:

The rules were similar to modern home run derbies, with two notable exceptions. If a batter did not swing at a pitch that was in the strike zone, that also constituted an out. Also, the contests were conducted in a more similar fashion to a baseball game than the modern home run derbies, where a player has a set number of outs before his turn is over.

Batters were given three outs per inning, and the player with the most home runs after nine innings won. The defending champion had the advantage of batting last; his opponent batted first. Any ball not hit for a home run was an out. The player did not have to swing at every pitch, but if he did not swing at it, and the pitch was in the strike zone, that also constituted an out, as did a swing and a miss, but these rarely happened as the pitcher was supposed to be giving the batters good balls to hit. If the players were tied after nine innings, the Derby would go into extra innings as per regular baseball.

Harmon Killebrew was featured on the show twice. The first was against Mickey Mantle, a returning champion.

Killebrew unseated Mantle and won the next week, beating out Rocky Colavito. Ken Boyer ended Killebrew’s first run.

Later in the series, Killer returned and lost to Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants.

Jim Lemon, another Senators outfielder, appeared on the show twice but lost to Hank Aaron and Mays, respectively.

Back to the present, I got to see Harper take batting practice last year. He tends to hit line drives about 200 MPH more than he hits towering fly balls. I hope he approaches it that way. If he wins great, but I’m not too concerned. Just don’t mess up the swing and don’t get hurt, pretty much my hopes for any Nats All-Star.

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Nats: Another strong Zimmermann start brings first D.C. win over Tigers since 1971

Jordan Zimmermann and his awful post-game shirt (Nats Enquirer) is the first National League 6-game winner of 2013. From The PostNationals vs. Tigers: Jordan Zimmermann, Bryce Harper lead way to another win:

The Nationals’ starting rotation includes three all-stars and a former sixth overall pick. The best of them, though, is the 26-year-old Wisconsin native with more pitches than facial expressions, a fact further established Wednesday night during the Nationals’ 3-1 victory over the fearsome Detroit Tigers. Zimmermann added seven more innings of dominance to his 2013 ledger, the one that marks him not only as the Nationals’ ace, but also one of the very best pitchers in baseball.

The Nats beat Anabel Sanchez for the first time in 20 tries.

Zimmermann’s 20 inning scoreless streak was broken in the third when Torii Hunter scored from second (he had a two-out double) on a Miguel Cabrera single.

Adam LaRoche scored the winning run on a throwing error by Hunter.

Bryce Harper homered, his tenth:

Another streak was broken — a nearly 42 year losing streak to the Tigers. The last time a D.C. team beat the Tigers in the regular season was August 3, 1971 (Boxscore from baseball-reference.com). Denny McLain pitched 8 innings for the Senators against his former team in a 4-2 win in Tiger Stadium. McClain improved his record to 6-15. Joe Niekro (3-5) and Casey Cox earned the save (5) for Washington. Frank Howard hit his 20th homer.

The “Curse of Denny McLain,” which I just made up, is over!

Coincidentally, the Detroit Lions have never won in Washington (or Landover) in over 75 years of playing the Redskins. That was for you J.J.

ALSO, did you see the Nats backed down from their stupid rain-out policy?

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Former Washington Senator, Connie Marrero turns 102

Cuba’s former MLB star Marrero turns 102 BBC News
The oldest living Major League Baseball player, Connie Marrero turned 102 today. He played for the Washington Senators in the 1950s. He went 39-40 with three winning seasons. His stats from Baseball Reference.

Marrero recently got a lump sum in lieu of the pension he never got because he stayed in his native Cuba after the revolution. He’s not doing too well, but sports a curly W cap and a “CUBA” t-shirt in the style of the Chicago Cubs in the video that is included in the story linked above.

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D.C. Sports Hall of Fame inducting new members at Sunday’s Nats-Reds game

Hall of Stars banner
PRESS RELEASE: 2013 DC Sports Hall of Fame Inductees to be honored before April 28 Nationals-Reds game – nationals.com
This coming Sunday, a number of people are being inducted into the D.C. Hall of Fame, as selected Charlie Brotman and Comcast SportsNet’s Andy Ockershausen. Those to be inducted include:

Elgin Baylor – Former NBA All-Star and Basketball Hall of Famer
Bobby Beathard – Former General Manager, Washington Redskins
Dave Bing – Former NBA All-Star and Basketball Hall of Famer
Maurice “Maus” Collins – Former Head Football Coach, Archbishop Carroll & Gonzaga High Schools
Mike Gartner – Former Player Washington Capitals
Phil Hochberg – Former Stadium Announcer, Washington Senators & Washington Redskins,
*George Michael – Celebrated WRC Sportscaster
*Sam Rice – Former Player, Washington Senators
Bob Wolff – Sports Broadcasting Pioneer
Willie Wood – Former Green Bay Packer and Pro Football Hall of Famer

Of those, several of them Baylor, Bing and Wood are from D.C., but became famous elsewhere which has always been weird to me.

The Senators are well-represented with Hochberg, Rice (already a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, baseballreference.com) and Wolff, who was recently profiled by The Times. Wolff is donating over 1,000 of audio and video from his career to the Library of Congress.

Beathard was the general manager of the Redskins 1978 to 1989
(redskins.com) when they won 2 Super Bowl in 3 tries. A third Super Bowl win came in 1991 with many of his players on the roster. He was also the GM for the San Diego Chargers during their won Super Bowl run. It is surprising he didn’t get in sooner.

Gartner (1979-1989) was one of the stars of the first wave of Capitals playoff teams,. His #11 was retired a few years ago and he is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Michael belongs in the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame as much as any broadcaster for his many years at WRC-TV, but I’d have rather seen Glenn Brenner get in first. Brenner was #1 in D.C. until he died prematurely. Ken Beatrice of SportsCall fame need induction as well.

Overall, the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame is an odd institution with a confusing history. If there is any specific criteria for it, I don’t know it. Ernie Davis, the Syracuse great was drafted by the Redskins, but traded to the Cleveland Browns before dying of leukemia, is in the DCSHOF which is a stretch. I’m not sure I’d put in people primarily famous for their exploits in other cities, though the argument for Baylor, Bing and Wood are probably based on their pre-professional days.

Prior to the Nats arrival at RFK Stadium in 2005, the DCSHOF was the “Ring of Stars” with each inductee having a placard ringing the mezzanine. It helped make RFK distinctive, but they were removed for a ribbon-message board. The fates of the placards are unknown.

John Kelly tried to explain it all in a Post column (Answer Man Goes to Bat for Curious Reader) several years ago and came as close as one could hope with this:

The D.C. Sports Hall of Fame is not a physical space but a mythical one, a way for triumphs to be filtered through the warm glow of nostalgia and enjoyed once again. It also speaks to the continuity of sports, how children who grew up watching ended up playing, coaching or commentating.

Adding to the confusion is that Nationals Park also honors baseball players who made the Hall of Fame as Senators, Grays and even Montreal Expos. Three statues of Frank Howard, Walter Johnson and Josh Gibson are also in front of the centerfield entrance. Also, the Capitals and Wizards honor several players with retired numbers (not all of whom are in the DCSHOF) and the Redskins have their own Ring of Fame.

I’d love to see something more formalized with input from all the area franchises and some specific criteria for induction. Also, I’d love to see a Web site with profiles of everybody in it.

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60 years ago today Mickey Mantle hit first “tape measure home run” at Griffith Stadium

Yesterday, Thom Loverro of The Wash. Examiner reminded us that today is the 60th anniversary of Mickey Mantle’s famed 565-feet home run – Thom Loverro: Sixty years later, still feeling Mickey Mantle’s clout in D.C.

Mantle hit the powerful homer off of Chuck Stobbs of the Washington Senators. The ball blasted past an advertising sign out of Griffith Stadium. New York Yankees P.R. executive Red Patterson decided that it needed to be measured and it became known as a “tape measure home run.” It only became known a generation later that Patterson had merely “walked-off the distance.”

In her definitive biography of Mantle, The Last Boy, author Jane Leavy devoted an entire chapter to this homer. She commissioned a report to see how far it probably went on the fly (not 565 feet) and found the man, Donald Dunaway, who had recovered the ball when he was a sixth grader playing hooky. On her Web site, Leavy has a gallery of the area circa 2008 as well as photos of Dunaway, Griffith Stadium and newspaper clippings from the time. Howard University hospital now occupies the stadium footprint.

Stobbs lived until 2008. For a “the lives they lived” issue of the Post Sunday Magazine, Leavy wrote an obituary for him: Chuck Stobbs | 1929-2008.

UPDATE

@ESPNStatsInfo has posted the modern day equivalent of where it would go, presumably from both sides of the plate:

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Emmett Ashford, first black MLB umpire, made debut at RFK Stadium on this day in 1966

On this day in 1966, the first black umpire made his debut, nearly 19 years to the day after Jackie Robinson made his playing debut. Emmett Ashford umpired third base in the Cleveland Indians vs. Washington Senators Opening Day game at RFK Stadium. Cleveland would defeat Washington, 5-2 before 44,468. BoxscoreBaseball Reference. D.C. Baseball History has more about that game.

The SABR History Project feature on Ashford recalled his first game:

Emmett Ashford’s regular season debut took place on April 9, 1966, in Washington’s D .C. Stadium, the traditional American League opener. His first major league hurdle was getting into the ballpark. Vice-President Hubert Humphrey was in attendance to throw out the ceremonial first ball, and the secret service needed to be convinced that a black man was there to umpire the game. Humphrey later kidded Ashford, who had worked at third base, that he hadn’t had any plays to call. “No plays, no boots,” responded Ashford, “but it was the greatest day of my life.” Joe Cronin told his new employee, “Emmett, you made history today. I’m proud of you.”

Ashford’s first home plate assignment came on April 17, 1966 in New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles game (Baseball Reference Boxscore) at Memorial Stadium.

Ashford had been an umpire in the Pacific Coast League for many years and was 51 when his contract was bought out by the American League. From the L.A. Times article Emmett Ashford made history; will he make Hall of Fame?:

Ashford’s dream was to be a major league umpire, a commitment he made when he heard Branch Rickey had signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945. But first Ashford had to break the minor league color barrier for umpires, which he did.

There was no mistaking Ashford had style — French cuffs, gleaming cuff links and shoes buffed to a pristine shine. And he always brought a typewriter with him on the road so he could answer fan mail. He signed autographs before and after games.

Ashford stayed on one year past the suggested retirement age, ending his career after the 1970 World Series.

HAT TIP

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