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Baseball in Washington, DC

1947 was another tough year for the Washington Senators Baseball Club. There lineup included such names as Mickey Vernon 1b, Jerry Priddy 2b, Mark Christman ss, Eddie Yost 3b, Buddy Lewis rf, Stan Spence cf, Joe Grace lf, Al Evans c. Starting pictures were Bob Newsom, Walt Masterson, Mickey Haefner, Early Wynn, Ray Scarborough and Sid Hudson. Utility infielders were war hero Cecil Travis who endured the Battle of the Bulge in Europe and Sherry Robertson a son in law of the Senator owner Clark Griffith. They lost 90 games that year 33 games behind the first place Yankees. The Old Griffith Stadium off Florida Avenue had a very high right field wall that was plastered with an advertisement for Lifeboy Soap with a slogan stating that "Use Lifeboy the Senators do". The left field line was over 400 feet and it was a pitcher's ballpark. Crowds loved to see Bobo Newsome, the Hartsville, SC native pitch. He would rear back and throw the ball high in the air and readily use his so-called Blooper pitch causing a batter to miss or strike out altogether at the pleasure of the crowd. Bleacher seats were $.60. The top priced ticket for a reserved box seat was $2.50 and there were times throughout the year only a few hundred people attended a home game. There was a marine that visited the stadium from the Quantico Marine Base, whose name was Bruce McAllister. He was infamous to the fans because he had a way of making a very loud horse noise that could be heard into the microphone of sports announcer Arch MacDonald. One of his famous sayings was describing a ball hit out of the park as hitting Maggie's drawers over the fence. Broadcasts from out of town were never live and conducted using telegraph equipment providing a description of the plays. A small bell similar to those used in hotels to call bellboys was used to show whether the hit was a single, double, triple or home run. Fans would listen intently at the radio hearing the first and then the second and hoping that there would be more bases to the hit.

The opposition teams for the most part were housed at the Shoreham Hotel on Calvert Street. Most players and coaches came down to the coffee shop for breakfast and children would wait in the hotel lobby for them to congregate after eating to secure autographs and small talk with the players. Most times, stars like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio were rarely seen in the lobby with the rest of the ballplayers choosing to stay in their rooms and having room service. Travel was by train and schedules were predicated on the next team location. Washington would travel to Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Detriot and then St. Louis to play the last place Browns. Umpires such as Art Passarella and Charlie Berry were housed at another large hotel adjacent to Union Station.

The All Star game that year was decided by a Senator, Stan Spence when he singled Bobby Doerr home with the winning run and they won 2-1 beating the national leaguers. Walt Masterson also pitched in the game for Washington. Ossie Bluege was the Senator's Manager. The Senators like many Washington teams catered to the South and it was not unusual to have southern born and bred players on the team. Because they were often the joke of opposing sportscasters, Washington was labeled first in war, first in peace and last in the American League. Today there is a monument dedicating the place where Griffith Stadium once stood and it is now a portion of the Howard University complex.


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