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.
Despite the spring equinox, the season never really arrives in the U.S. until the familiar cry of “play ball!” rings out. In Washington the grand and ancient tradition is carried out as President Johnson arrives to throw out the first ball as a thousand shutters click…”
To celebrate the home opener, I’ve put together a youtube playlist of Opening Days in Washington over the years, starting with a silent movie featuring Herbert Hoover. There’s some more highlights of recent vintage as well:
For generations, the traditional start of the American League season begin in the District of Columbia, frequently with the President throwing out the first ball to the assembled Washington Senators. Presidents Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson included in black and white newsreels included on the playlist. Footage of Richard Nixon, a big Senators fan, couldn’t be found — newsreels were over by then and the Senators were by the end of Nixon’s first term. Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush (the elder) and Clinton would throw out the first ball elsewhere, while oddly enough softball player Jimmy Carter never did, at least for Opening Day.
The Nats should always be home in season opener. And, the president should always throw out the first pitch. It's called history.
The tradition resumed, albeit sporadically and not always on true Opening Day, in 2005 when the Washington Nationals were reborn as a National League team. Now, it’s a first pitch, from the mound to a specific player rather than the first ball from the stands to a group. George W. Bush made two home opener appearances – 2005 at RFK Stadium and 2008 on Nationals Park Opening Night. Barack Obama, wearing a Chicago White Sox cap and Nats jacket threw an eephus pitch in 2009.
Hoping for a return to an annual Washington Presidential Opening Day is unfortunately a fool’s errand. Between other presidential duties and MLB stretching out Opening Day into Opening Week, the tradition is unlikely to return. At the very least, MLB could award Washington a regular Opening Day slot, but they tend to be more sympathetic to Baltimore on such matters.
There are a few other on-field highlights as well as a pregame hype video. Hopefully, more Opener video will find it’s way onto youtube.
MANAHAWKIN, N.J. — One of the first intersections on Route 72 east of the Garden State Parkway is for Doc Cramer Blvd. Over many years traveling to Long Beach Island, I had a mild curiosity of the boulevard’s namesake and during a trip to the Beach Haven Library I learned that Roger “Doc” Cramer was a baseball player from that borough.
Perkins had advance knowledge that a special young man named Cramer might help out the major-league club. It seems that some time earlier, Perkins and his teammate Jimmy Dykes had stopped by the office of a realtor named Van Dyke to look for some vacation property, and Van Dyke tipped them off to the local phenom. Doc did not disappoint, and at the end of the second game, Perkins approached the young prospect and asked, “How would you like to come to Philadelphia tomorrow morning and see Mr. Mack?”
Cramer shot back, “What time does Mr. Mack reach the park?”
“About 9 o’clock,” replied Perkins.
“I’ll be there at 8:30,” Cramer promised, and the next day he arrived at Shibe Park to meet Connie Mack wearing a suit his brother Paul had bought him for the occasion. Doc’s father tried to persuade him not to go, but he did not listen and headed off for his tryout with his cousin Chris Sprague driving him there. Mack signed up the eager youngster and kept him on the Athletics bench for the rest of the season, then assigned him to the Martinsburg team in the Blue Ridge League.
Cramer played two games in 1929, which led to 30 in 1930 with about another 30 or so a season before becoming a starter at age 27 in 1933 after the A’s big selloff. Traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1936, Cramer patrolled Fenway Park’s centerfield for 5 seasons, earning All-Star recognition in his final four campaigns.
After the 1940 season, Cramer would be traded to the Washington Senators for Gee Walker. In his only season in Washington, Cramer would play in all 154 games, batting .273 with 25 doubles, 6 triples and 2 home runs.
After the season he was traded again, this time to the Detroit Tigers, along with Jimmy Bloodworth, in exchange for Frank Croucher and Bruce Campbell. This would be Cramers last stop in his career. He’d play for the Tigers from 1942 through 1948, finally getting his release in May.
Cramer would retire to the mainland, across the bay from Long Beach Island, in Manahawkin. A baseball complex is named after him as well.