Sunday, May 19, 2013

A piece of D.C. baseball history

Over the last few years since my grandmother passed away, my parents have been slowly going through her belongings, items and boxes that scattered across a large basement at her house in Laurel, Md. Among the discoveries they have made is the fact my great grandfather - on my Dad's side - was the batboy for the Washington Senators sometime in the early 20th century. We don't know the exact years, but he was around evidently when Walter Johnson was active as a player. 

In searching through the boxes, my parents made quite the find: a pamphlet autographed by 'The Big Train' himself, signed at his 50th Birthday Testimonial Dinner at the Mayflower Hotel. The event was held on Nov. 6, 1937, just two years after he retired as manager of the Cleveland Indians.

Inside the program is plenty of interesting stuff, especially considering the time period. For example, the advertisements themselves are rather unique. It doesn't seem like many of the companies are still in business and their slogans are appropriate only for back then. My favorite would have to be Burnstine's pawn shop that says: 'You can hock anything here but your wife.' A car ad bragging their vehicle can hit 35 miles per hour is also pretty funny.

There is also a story called 'Life is Just a Game of Innings' that recalls Johnson's career in nine installments, adapted to reflect the game of baseball. It also serves as the night's dinner menu, I believe, as abstract as that sounds. I have pictures of each page below for you all to see.


Here is the front cover, the 'official score card' commemorating Johnson's major league debut on Aug. 2, 1907:



Here are the middle two pages, with the beginning of the story of Johnson's career:



Here is the back of the program, with the end of the story and a send off note to Johnson that reads: "Walter, you are just the same to your friends in the cabbage patch as you were in the days of uniform."





















I have below a zoomed in look at the nine-inning story of Walter Johnson's "'first' fifty years in the game of life," in case you would like to read it.












































































39 comments:

original Nats Fan said...

wow, what a treasure. Thanks for sharing, Chase. I saw the Harvey's ad and remember eating there a long time ago. Wonderful seafood.

LoveDaNats said...

How cool is this?! Thanks for sharing with us, Chase.

Traveler8 said...

Chase, this is terrific. More on the ads - the McAllister boat on the front page is offering trips to Marshall Hall, down the Potomac where there was an amusement park that I last recall going to on an eighth grade end of school trip in the mid-1960s.

Michael Harvey said...

"dear old Cleveland, the graveyard for all ambitious managers . . . . Walter went the way of all baseball flesh who wears a Cleveland managerial uniform."

Yowza

Gonat said...

There is a Facebook page for Washington Baseball historians that would love to see that Chase and a few of their members are children and relatives of Senators players.

Someone else who would enjoy those pics are Hank Thomas who is a Nats season ticket holder and grandson of Walter Johnson.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

Wow! What a find. My mother threw out my collection of baseball cards, comics, and other treasures while I was away at college. Women, the real enemy.

sjm308 said...

Chase thanks so much for this! Like Laddie and countless others my cards were sent to baseball card heaven by my mom and I have never let her forget that. I joke that I should have never gone to college if it meant losing Mickey and Willie and all the others. Traveler, I remember Marshall Hall as well in the late 50s! I have two Redskin Football Programs from the early 40's and the adds are the best part. Also have a program from the Touchdown Club Annual Banquet (remember that?) with a Ted Williams autograph. Sometimes its great to live in the past.

Sunny and 85 in Napa in spite of our lads loss. Out for a nice hike and maybe just a little wine after.

Go Nats!

Exposremains said...

Great stuff. Thanks.

djinFl. said...

Thanks Chase
Great read to start the day

Candide said...

Love seeing this kind of stuff. Thanks!

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"I joke that I should have never gone to college if it meant losing Mickey and Willie and all the others."

I hid my things where she would never find them, but it was no use. You know how they are.

Tcostant said...

Wow amazing discover!

Eugene in Oregon said...

A much more pleasant read than a description of last night's game; thanks.

Joe Seamhead said...

Mark, I'm going to forward this to my pal Hank Thomas, Walter Johnson's grandson. He'll get a kick out of it.

Joe Seamhead said...

oops1 I see it was from Chase. Anyway, I forwarded the column to Hank, Chase.

jeffwx said...

oh boy, what a great story about a land that time almost forgot..
Big Train, the best there ever was.
I still have my collection of autographed balls, slowly fading. I have Sam Rice but no Big Train

NatsLady said...

Thanks SO much for sharing, Chase. Love it, great memories. Luckily my mom never cleaned ANYTHING (LOL), and my sister (keeper of the family history) is pretty fanatic about scrap booking. Strange to imagine what her great-grandchildren will discover about the Nats in the 22 century, only 87 years from now.

mick said...

This is awesome and why this is the BEST blog period in DC!!

I relish this stuff.It is priceless and this is something all young DC fans should be enlighten to. THANK YOU MARK!!!

mick said...

THANK YOU CHASE

Section 222 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Section 222 said...

Having grown up elsewhere, I can't say I have much (actually, any) interest in the Senators. Feel's brother Phil bores me when he goes into his oldtime Senators' reveries. But this is a great piece of memorabilia. Thanks Chase.

Oh, and I feel really bad for you guys whose mothers threw out their baseball cards. That's sad.

NatsLady said...

Morse just gave Bourne an extra base in Cleveland. He had some kind of eye "irritation" that kept him out of the game on Friday and went 0-4 yesterday. Wonder if that is still affecting him.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Chase, I love the history and story about your Great Granddad being a batboy.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Joe Seamhead, are you Hank's friend Joe G.

NatsLady said...

Morse just gave Cleveland their 2nd run. Morse let the runner get to 2nd by airmailing a throw home (he had ZERO chance to get Bourne at home with his speed). Cleveland announcers are ripping Morse for lack of hustle (letting Bourne get to 2nd) and bad decision on the throw. But I wonder if he is feeling completely well.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

"Oh, and I feel really bad for you guys whose mothers threw out their baseball cards. That's sad."

They lurk, they wait... and then they strike when you are most vulnerable.

NatsLady said...

Nationals PR ‏@NationalsPR
Today's lineup at SDP: Span CF, Lombardozzi 2B, Zimmerman 3B, LaRoche 1B, Moore LF, Bernadina RF, Espinosa SS, Suzuki C, Haren P

Hoping we'll get a report on Harper.

NatsLady said...

Zooook sure hates to take a day off.

natsfan1a said...

Zowie, what a find! Reading the story (9 - innings - 9!) was more fun than watching a wrestling bear. (Well, okay, I've never really watched a wrestling bear.)

Maybe it's fate that you became a beat writer for the Nats, Mark, given your family's history with DC baseball. Thanks for sharing this with us.

natsfan1a said...

Oops, sorry. That was Chase rather than Mark.

NatsLady said...

David Murphy ‏@HighCheese
Right hamstring strain for Carlos Ruiz, Phillies announce

natsfan1a said...

How about the guys who stuck them in the spokes of their bicycle wheels? I will say that it did make a cool noise. :-)

222 said...

Oh, and I feel really bad for you guys whose mothers threw out their baseball cards. That's sad.

MicheleS said...

Chase, thanks for sharing this! This is a great treasure for you and your family.

djinFl. said...

@natsfan1a we only put those da** Yankees cards in the bike spokes. Never our beloved Senators. Bad investment choices made young in life.

natsfan1a said...

That's funny, dj. :-)

Drew said...

Chase, that's marvelous.

If anyone hasn't read grandson Hank Thomas's bio of The Big Train, it's the definitive account -- a great read.

Sec. 3, My Natural Sofa said...

Very cool!

JaneB said...

I am not a Senators aficionado but I totally LOVE that so many generations of your family knew to keep this. This is an example of one of the things I most love about baseball: how it gets passed down in families. Thank you SO MUCH for this post!

Scooter said...

I'm catching up on old posts, so just seeing this now. Chase, thanks so much for sharing this with us.

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