Posts Tagged ‘Griffith Stadium’

Tinker Field – 100 Years of Baseball in Orlando, Florida

February 22nd, 2015

Tinker Field is located at 1610 West Church Street in Orlando, Florida.

Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

The actual playing field dates back to 1914, when it was constructed by the City of Orlando. The original grandstand was constructed in 1923.

Postcard, Cincinnati Reds Training On Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida (Published by Asheville Post Card Co., Asheville, N.C., Beautiful Florida Series)

The  stadium is named in honor of Hall of Famer Joe Tinker, the former Chicago Cubs shortstop made famous in the 1910 baseball poem by Franklin Pierce Adams, “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Joe Tinker, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Joe Tinker, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Tinker relocated to Orlando after retiring from Major League Baseball in 1920, and became owner and manager of Orlando’s Florida State League team for one season in 1921.

Tinker Building, Orlando, Florida

Tinker Building, Orlando, Florida

Tinker remained in Orlando, leaving baseball to concentrate on his new career as a real estate broker and developer in Orlando. A building he constructed in 1925 that housed his real estate business still stands in downtown Orlando at 16 and 18 West Pine Street, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Plaque Honoring Joe Tinker, Placed at Tinker Building, Orlando, Florida

Plaque Honoring Joe Tinker, Placed at Tinker Building, Orlando, Florida

In 1923, at the urging of Tinker, the Cincinnati Reds (Tinker had played and managed for the Reds) began holding spring training at Tinker Field, a place where they continued to train through the 1930 season. In 1931, the Reds moved their spring training home to Plant Field in Tampa, Florida.

Exterior, First Base Side, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Exterior, First Base Side, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, 2015

In 1934, the Brooklyn Dodgers relocated their spring training from Clearwater Athletic Field to Tinker Field, where they trained for two seasons before moving back to Clearwater in 1935.

Exterior, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Exterior, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

In 1936, the Washington Senators began a several-decades long affiliation with Tinker Field.

Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, March 22, 1947

The Senators held spring training there from 1936 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1960.

Tinker Field, Orlando Florida "The City Beautiful" (Postcard Park Press, Inc., Waite Park, MN photo by Bob Watson)

Tinker Field, Orlando Florida “The City Beautiful” (Postcard Park Press, Inc., Waite Park, MN photo by Bob Watson)

After the Senators franchise relocated to Minnesota as the Twins in 1961, the Twins continued to train at Tinker Field through the 1990 season. A monument and plaque honoring former Senator’s owner Clark C. Griffith was placed at the entrance to Tinker Field. Although the granite monument remains, the plaque has since been removed.

Memorial and Plaque Honoring Clark C. Griffith at Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

Memorial and Plaque Honoring Clark C. Griffith at Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

Tinker Field underwent a major renovation in 1963, although apparently parts of the original grandstand structure remain hidden beneath the reconstructed grandstand.

Front Entrance, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Front Entrance, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

When Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., was demolished in 1963, 1,000 wooden chairs from Griffin Stadium were sent to Orlando for installation in Tinker Field. Those stadium chairs remain at Tinker Field today.

Wooden Seats from Washington D.C.'s former Ballpark Griffith Stadium, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Wooden Seats from Washington D.C.’s former Ballpark Griffith Stadium, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

A litany of ever-changing Florida State League teams called Tinker Field home, including the Orlando Caps (1919-1920), the Orlando Tigers (1921), Orlando Bulldogs (1922-1924), Orlando Colts (1926-1928), Orlando Gulls (1937), Orlando Senators (1938-1941, 1946-1953), Orlando Seratomas (1956), Orlando Flyers (1957-1958), Orlando Dodgers (1959-1961), Orlando Twins (1963-1989), Orlando Sun Rays (1990-1992), Orlando Cubs (1993-1996), and Orlando Rays (1997-2003).

Main Entrance, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Main Entrance, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, 2004, with Orlando Rays Logo Above the Entrance

Although the 1923 grandstand lasted 40 years before it was renovated in 1963, the current grandstand already has outlasted the original grandstand by over 10 years.

Ticket Window, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Ticket Window, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

In 2004, Tinker Field was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Concourse Behind Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Concourse Behind Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Unfortunately, receiving that designation does not mean that the stadium cannot be demolished.

Concession Stands, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Concession Stands, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Most recently, Tinker Field has been the home of several college teams. The city likewise uses the venue for concerts and other public gatherings.

Entrance to Boxes and Reserved Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Entrance to Boxes and Reserved Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

During much of its existence, Tinker Field has been dwarfed by its neighbor just to the east.

Tinker Field Infield, With Citrus Bowl Looming Large Over the Outfield Wall, Orlando, Florida

Tinker Field Infield, With Florida Citrus Bowl Looming Large Over the Outfield Wall, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

In 1935, the City of Orlando constructed Orlando Stadium just beyond Tinker Field’s center field and right field fence.

Infield, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Infield, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, 2015, Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium in Background

Primarily used for football, the stadium has had a variety of names over the years, including the Tangerine Bowl from 1947 to 1975, the Citrus Bowl in 1976, Orlando Stadium from 1936 to 1946, and from 1977 to 1982, Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium from 1983 to 2013, and currently the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium.

Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium As Seen From Third Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium As Seen From Third Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

Renovations to the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium in 2014 and 2015 resulted in a significant loss of land at Tinker Field in center and right field.

Right Field Looking Toward Center Field With Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium Taking Up Part of Right Field, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Right Field Looking Toward Center Field With Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium Taking Up Part of Right Field, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Although professional baseball has not been played at Tinker Field for almost 25 years, any hope of professional baseball returning to the ballpark was permanently dashed once the right field line was shortened to its current length of 245 feet.

View of Grandstand From Near Right Field Corner, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

View of Grandstand From Near Right Field Corner, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

As part of the renovation and expansion of Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium, much of what once sat along the first base foul line past the dugout was removed as well.

View of First Base Grandstand From Third Base Foul Line, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

View of First Base Grandstand From Third Base Foul Line, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

The metal bleachers that sat beyond first base are gone, as are the wooden bleachers that once sat along the third base foul line.

Wooden Bleachers, Third Base Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Wooden Bleachers, Third Base Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, Circa 2004

What remains of the ballpark is the grandstand, the concourse, the dugouts, and the players clubhouses.

First Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

First Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

In 2014, the mayor of Orlando and City Council announced that Tinker Field would be raised because of its age and because it no longer could serve the purpose for which it was built.

Grandstand As Seen From Third Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand As Seen From Third Base Dugout, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Public backlash temporarily halted the city’s plans to demolish Tinker Field.

Grandstand Seating, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand Seating, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

It is expected that a decision on the future of Tinker Field will be made soon. Some argue that there is still value in preserving the historic ballpark, even if it no longer can be used for professional games.

Grandstand Seating, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand Seating, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

The city has estimated that it will cost $10 million to renovate the grandstand and the rest of the still-standing stadium structures.

Grandstand Section 19 Signage, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand Section 19 Signage, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Historic preservationists note that, in addition to its rich baseball history, Tinker Field has been a public gathering place for the community for over 100 years.

Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

Grandstand, Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida

One of the most notable historic events at the stadium occurred on March 6, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a speech from the pitcher’s mound to people gathered in the grandstand. It was his sole public appearance in that city.

Pitcher's Mound, Tinker Field, Orlando, Forida, Spot From Which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , Spoke in 1964

Pitcher’s Mound, Tinker Field, Orlando, Forida, Spot From Which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Spoke in 1964

Although it remains to be seen whether the city will preserve what is left of Tinker Field, one proposal, should the field not be preserved, would renovate Tinker Field’s former practice field, currently known as McCracken Field, which sits just south of the ballpark, and create a smaller version of the Tinker Field grandstand at that field.

McCracken Field, Practice Field Next to Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

McCracken Field, Practice Field Next to Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida,

If you live in the area of Orlando, Florida, or will be visiting there any time soon, and have a love for history and old ballparks, be sure to stop by Tinker Field because its appears its days may be numbered.

Entrance to Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

Entrance to Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

And if you have a moment, take a trip just three miles east of Tinker Field to the final resting place of the ballpark’s namesake.

Joe Tinker's Original Grave Marker, Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

Joe Tinker’s Original Grave Marker, Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

Tinker died in Orlando on his birthday – July 27th – in 1948 and is interred at Greenwood Cemetery along side his first wife Rudy Tinker, who died in 1923. Tinker’s grave site includes a monument with a reproduction of his Hall of Fame plaque.

Joe Tinker Grave Marker and Monument, Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

Joe Tinker Grave Marker and Monument, Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Florida

Hopefully the City of Orlando will realize that the history of Tinker Field justifies keeping Tinker Field in place, perhaps configured for use by high school or local little league teams. The ballpark’s site is one of the oldest professional baseball parks in Florida and Tinker Field’s grandstand, even as renovated in 1963, is one of the oldest still-standing baseball grandstands in the state. Only the grandstands at Henley Field Ballpark (1925) in Lakeland, Florida, J.P. Smalls Memorial Park (1935) in Jacksonville, Florida, Holman Stadium (1953) in Vero Beach, Florida, Fort Lauderdale Stadium (1962) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Jackie Robinson Park (1962) in Daytona Beach, Florida, are older.

And once it is gone, it can’t be brought back.

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Posted in Florida ballparks, Tinker Field | Comments (1)

Bloomington’s Metropolitan Stadium – MIA At The MOA

October 18th, 2013

Metropolitan Stadium was located in Bloomington, Minnesota, 15 miles south of Minneapolis and just south of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport off I-494.

Metropolitan Stadium "Home of the Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings" (Post Card Dexter Press, copyright Northern Minnesota Novelties)

The ballpark was home to the American Association Minneapolis Millers from 1956 until 1960, the American League Minnesota Twins from 1961 to 1981, and the National Football League Minnesota Vikings from 1961 to 1981. Prior to construction of Metropolitan Stadium, the Minneapolis Millers played their home games at Nicollet Park and the Minnesota Twins played at Griffith Stadium as the Washington Senators, prior to the franchise relocating to Minnesota after the 1960 season.

Metropolitan Stadium Circa 1957 (Plastichrome Post Card by Colour Picture Publishers and St. Marie's Gopher News Co.)

Once construction was completed on the Hubert H. Humphre Metrodome in 1982, the Twins and the Vikings both relocated to the new stadium for their respective 1982 seasons.

Looking Toward Right Field from Killebrew Drive (Prior To Construction of Raddison Blu Hotel)

Metropolitan Stadium was demolished in 1985 and is now the site of the Mall of America, a megamall built on the footprint of the  old stadium, covering over 96 acres.

Metropolitan Stadium After Its Expansion to 42,000 Seats (Plastichrome Post Card by Colour Picture Publishers and St. Marie's Gopher News Co.)

Home plate was located near the intersection of Cedar Avenue and Lindau Lane.

Mall of America, Looking Toward Former Third Base Foul Line From Lindau Lane

Within the Mall of America, Metropolitan Stadium’s  former field is now subsumed by an enclosed amusement park known as Nickelodeon Universe. A marker for home plate is located near the entrance to the Sponge Bob Square Pants Rock Bottom Plunge (which for roller coaster enthusiasts is the shortest Gerstlauera Euro-Fighter roller coaster in the world).

Home Plate Marker, Metropolitan Stadium - Located Next To Sponge Bob Square Pants Rock Bottom Plunge

Prior to Nickelodeon Universe, the Mall of America amusement park was known as Camp Snoopy, a homage to former St. Paul resident and Peanuts creator Charles Schultz.

Home Plate Looking Down Former Third Base Line (Former Camp Snoopy Configuration)

As part of the change over from Camp Snoopy to Nickelodeon Universe, the amusement park was completely redone and all references to Peanuts characters were removed.

View of Home Plate Looking Towards Pitchers Mound (Camp Snoopy Configuration)

With the change from Camp Snoopy to Nickelodeon Universe, “Blockhead Stadium” – like Metropolitan Stadium – is now just another lost ballpark.

Mall of America's Camp Snoopy Blockhead Stadium - Now Just Another Lost Ballpark

One of the most popular attractions at the Mall of America, next to Nickelodeon Universe, is the Lego Imagination Center, which resides in what was once right field.

Mall of America Lego Imagination Center, Former Location of Right Field

Former Minnesota Twins first baseman, third baseman, and outfielder Harmon Killebrew is twice honored at the former site of Metropolitan stadium. Killebrew Drive, named in his honor, is an east-west road south of the mall that runs parallel to the former third base foul line.

Looking Toward Right Center Field from Killebrew Drive

In addition, Killebrew’s 522 foot home run off California Angels pitcher Lew Burdette is commemorated in Nickelodeon Universe near the Log Chute.

Harmon Killebrew's Historic Home Run Marker at Mall of America - Located Near The Log Chute

A red stadium seat that once marked the spot where the home run landed in Metropolitan Stadium’s left field upper deck on June 3, 1967,  hangs on the wall above the ride.

All By Myself - The Harmon Killebrew Home Run Red Stadium Seat

With an estimated 40 million annual visitors to the Mall of America, the former site of Metropolitan Stadium is perhaps the most visited lost ballpark site in the country. Located just 11 miles south of the Twins current ballpark, Target Field, Metropolitan Stadium’s former site certainly is worth a visit. Of course, if you live in Minneapolis, or if you are just passing through, chances are you’ve already been. So on your next visit, be sure to look for the home plate marker at the feet of Sponge Bob Square Pants and the lone red chair perched above the Log Chute.

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D.C. Stadium – RFK Stadium

October 12th, 2013

RFK Stadium is located at 2400 East Capitol Street in southeast Washington, D.C. The stadium was home to the American League Washington Senators starting in 1962. Known then as D.C. Stadium, in 1969 the ballpark was renamed in memory of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The Senators played at RFK through the 1971 season, when the franchise moved to Arlington, Texas, and was renamed the Texas Rangers. Prior to RFK, the Senators played their home games at Griffith Stadium.

RFK Stadium/Armory Complex Postcard (L.B. Prince Co. and Dexter Press)

RFK is a multi-purpose stadium which also hosted the National Football League Washington Redskins beginning in 1961, through the 1996 season. Likewise, Major League Soccer’s D.C. United has called RFK its home since 1996. The stadium has hosted other professional sports teams such as the Washington Freedom and the Washington Diplomats.

Seats Removed During RFK Stadium's Renovation Prior to Baseball's Return in 2005

In Septemer 2004, Major League Baseball announced that the Montreal Expos franchise was moving to Washington.

RFK Stadium Winter 2004 Preparing for Return of Baseball to D.C.

After a 33 year hiatus, baseball returned to Washington and RFK Stadium commencing in 2005.

Nationals Team Store Located in RFK Parking Lot

Major League Baseball owned the team when it moved the franchise to Washington. As a nod to baseball history, MLB christened the team the Washington Nationals.

RFK Stadium Opening Day 2005

The name was a homage to the city’s earliest professional baseball teams, the 1884 Union Association Washington Nationals, and the 1891 American Association Washington Nationals. The name also was a nod to the American League Senators which sometimes was referred to as Nationals or Nats, and from 1905 to 1906 had the word NATIONALS” emblazoned on its uniform (thanks RUken!).

Medal Detectors Outside Gate A RFK Stadium Opening Day 2005

On Opening Day 2005, President George W. Bush was on hand to throw out the first pitch.

Opening Ceremonies 2005

RFK was the fourth multi-purpose stadium built in the country, Municipal Stadium in Cleveland being the first. Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium was the second such stadium and Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis was the third. Thus, RFK is the oldest multi-purpose stadium still standing in the United States.

Batting Practice at RFK Stadium

Home plate was positioned facing east, toward the Whitney Young Memorial Bridge. The stadium’s distinctive, wavy roof line curved upward, optimizing its seating capacity along first and third base.

RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

The upper reaches of the stadium along first and third base offered quite a sense of vertigo.

It Was A Long Way to the Infield From the Last Row at RFK

The press box for Redskin games was located in the upper deck on the first base side. When the Nationals arrived in 2005, the press box was covered over with signage.

Supports for Roof Over RFK 's Upper Deck With Football Press Box in Background

All the yellow seats in the upper deck are wooden and date back to when the ballpark opened in 1961.

A Sea of Yellow, Wooden Seats at RFK Stadium

To accommodate the dimensions and seating for football and soccer, the lower bowl seating along third base and up to the left field corner were mounted on rollers and moved along a track into the outfield behind left field. Those seats, lacking a rigid foundation underneath, bounced when fans jumped up and down on them.

Third Base Side Dugout Exposed to Accomodate D.C. United's Field

Because space was needed in the outfield to accommodate the movable seats, fans situated in the lower reaches of the outfield seats sat high above the action.

Night Game View of RFK Stadium's Cavernous Outfield

RFK Stadium was the last major league baseball park in the country where fans could walk around the entire perimeter of the upper deck seating bowl and see the game.

View From Center Field Upper Deck, RFK Stadium

The Presidents Race originated at RFK Stadium in 2005, growing out of the PNC Dollar Derby – a cartoon shown on the video board pitting George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Alexander Hamilton (note, he was not a president) in a car race. The Presidents Race, featuring live mascots, began during the 2006 season.

The Nationals's Presidents Race Started at RFK Stadium

The main entrance to RFK Stadium is the eastern most entrance at Gate D. Above that entrance is a mezzanine which includes a restaurant typically reserved for use by season ticket holders.

Champions Club, RFK Stadiu

Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was the Nationals first manager, having managed the Montreal Expos prior to their arrival in Washington. He often stood along the dugout fence (the National’s home dugout at RFK was along third base) and was easy to spot, even from the stands behind the third base dugout.

Frank Robinson's Last Day As Manager at RFK Stadium in 2006

The 2007 baseball season was to be the last one played at RFK.

RFK Opening Day 2007

During the 2007 season the Nationals placed a countdown banner in left field noting the number of home games left at RFK.

RFK's Count Down Banner

On September 23, 2007, the Nationals played their final game at RFK, a 5–3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The announced attendance for that game was 40,519.

RFK Video Board Announces That the End is Nigh For Baseball

Thirty-six years earlier, on September 30, 1971, the Senators played their last game in front of 14,460 fans. However, the game was declared a forfeit when, with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and the Senators leading the Yankees 7-5, fans rushed the field. The final home game of the Washington Nationals was a much more civil affair.

The Last Day of Professional Baseball at RFK Stadium

The Washington Nationals now play their home games in Nationals Park, located two and a half miles southwest of RFK Stadium.

Nationals Park, Home of the Washington Nationals

RFK Stadium is not yet a lost ballpark. Its main tenant currently is D.C. United, which has a lease to play its home games at RFK through the 2015 season.

Major League Soccer Is Still Played at RFK, For Now

Once D.C. United leaves RFK, however, it will be only a matter of time before RFK is consigned to history. Having lasted over 50 years, it remains one of the oldest ballparks still standing in the United States. If you haven’t been there yet, be sure to take the time to stop for a picture when you are in D.C., or perhaps take in a soccer game.

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Griffith Stadium And The Site Of D.C.’s First Nationals Park

October 9th, 2013

Baseball was played in Washington, D.C., at the intersection of Georgia and Florida Avenues for 70 years, beginning in 1891, up through the end of the 1961 season.  The original ballpark, called Boundary Field because it was located on Boundary Road (now Florida Avenue) at the District of Columbia’s former city limits, was home in 1891 to the Washington Senators of the American Association, and from 1892 to 1899 to the National League Washington Senators.

With the beginning of the American League in 1901, the American League Washington Senators began play at American League Park (I) which was located in Northeast Washington at the intersection of Florida Avenue, H Street, and Bladensburg Road in what is now the Trinidad Neighborhood (thanks to alert reader Geoffrey Hatchard).

American League Park (I) (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

In 1904, the American League Washington Senators moved to the Boundary Field location, making it their new home ballpark. Known also as Nationals Park, the park was constructed almost entirely of wood.

Fire Destroys American League Park (II) on March 17, 1911 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Fire Destroys American League Park (II) on March 17, 1911 (Harris & Ewing Photograph, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

A fire  on March 17, 1911 (caused by a plumbers lamp), destroyed the grandstand and a new concrete and steel stadium was built in its place.

View of Griffith Stadium (Photographer Theodor Horydczak, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The new ballpark was also known as Nationals Park,  up until 1920 when the venue was renamed Griffith Stadium in honor of Clark Griffith , the Washington Senator’s manager turned owner.

View of Griffith Stadium (Photographer Theodor Horydczak, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

The Senators played at Griffith Stadium up through 1960, when, after the season ended, the team relocated to Minnesota. The 1961 expansion Washington Senators played at Griffith Stadium in 1961, moving to D.C. Stadium (later renamed Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium) in 1962.

View of Griffith Stadium (Photographer Theodor Horydczak, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Griffith Stadium also served as home field for the Negro National League Homestead Grays from 1940 until 1948, that team splitting their home games between Washington and Pittsburgh. The National Football League Washington Redskins likewise played at Griffith Stadium from 1937 until 1960.

View of Griffith Stadium (Photographer Theodor Horydczak, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

Home plate at Griffith Stadium was located near the intersection of Georgia Avenue and V Street, N.W.

Aerial View of Griffith Stadium (image historypressblog.net)

Howard University Hospital now occupies the site, the main hospital building sitting in the approximate footprint of Griffith Stadium.

Howard University Hospital, Former Site of Griffith Stadium

Signs posted in front of Howard University Hospital along Georgia Avenue honor the memory of Griffith Stadium.

Plaque Honoring Memory of Griffith Stadium

The reverse side of the above sign recognizes significant moments in the ballpark’s history.

Plaque Honoring Memory of Griffith Stadium

Home plate is marked with a batter’s box inside the hospital’s main entrance.

Griffith Stadium Home Plate Marker Inside Howard University Hospital (picture courtesy Erik Cox Photography)

Griffith Stadium Home Plate Marker Inside Howard University Hospital (picture courtesy Erik Cox Photography)

First base paralleled Georgia Avenue, angling away from Georgia Avenue toward U Street.

Approximate location of Griffith Stadium Right Field Grandstand

A ticket booth as well as the grandstand entrance once sat at the site.

Postcard of Griffith Stadium Right Field Grandstand Entrance (copyright 1968 John F. Cummings)

Several row houses that sat in the shadow of the right field grandstand remain at the site along U Street.

Row Houses Along U Street Near What Was Once Griffith Stadium’s Right Field Grandstand

Right field to the center field corner paralleled U Street.

Former Location of Right Fied Corner (far) to Center Field Fence (near)

Buildings that once sat in the shadow of the right field fence still remain at the site as well along U Street.

Row Houses  Along U Street That Once Sat in the Shadow of Griffith Stadium’s Right Field Fence

Griffith Stadium’s center field fence was infamous for its quirky indentation at the center field corner. Behind that fence sat several row houses, which the ball club unsuccessfully had attempted to purchase from their owners. Two of those row houses remain at the site.

Row Houses Facing 5th Street That Once Sat Behind Center Field Fence

In addition to those row houses was a large oak tree that actually spread across the top of the center field fence. Although that tree is now gone, there is a smaller tree at the site today, planted in approximately the same spot.

Tree On Right Sits in Approximate Location of Large Oak Tree That Once Hung Over Griffith Stadium’s Center Field Fence

Griffith Stadium’s left field fence and bleachers paralleled 5th Street. That area is now a parking lot that runs along the back side of Howard University Hospital.

Former Site of Griffith Stadium’s Left Field Bleachers

Third base ran parallel to what is now an alley between the hospital and buildings that front W Street.

Former location of Griffith Stadium’s third base and left field grandstands

Across the alley paralleling third base are several hospital buildings that date from the time of Griffith Stadium, including the College of Medicine.

Howard University’ College of Medicine Building

Several other buildings that sit near the former site have a connection with the ballpark as well. The row house at 434 Oakdale Place  is the spot where Mickey Mantle’s famous 565 foot home run off Senator’s pitcher Chuck Stobbs on April 17, 1953, landed. Ten year old Donald Dunaway, who was attending the game and watched the ball sail over his head, found the ball in the backyard of the row house.

434 Oakdale Place (two story row house to left of three story house) – Where Mickey Mantle’s 565 Home Run Landed

Another building of note is the Wonder Bread Factory that was located at 641 S Street, N.W., just two blocks south of Griffith Stadium. The smell of bread baking at the factory often filled the air during games. The building today retains its original facade and serves the local art community by providing exhibition space.

Old Wonder Bread Factory Located Two Blocks South of Griffith Stadium Site

Given the ballpark’s location in the Nation’s Capitol, Griffith Stadium played host to many of the nation’s famous Americans. Presidents from William Howard Taft to Richard Nixon (then Vice President) threw out ceremonial first pitches to start the baseball season.

Walter Johnson Greeting President Calvin Coolidge (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

No baseball player best epitomized the Senators of the Griffith Stadium era than Hall of Famer Walter Johnson, who not only pitched for the team for over 20 years, but also was a radio announcer for the Senators after he retired from baseball. Upon his death in 1946, the team placed a memorial to Johnson at Griffith Stadium.

Walter Johnson Memorial at Griffith Stadium (Photographer Theodor Horydczak, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.)

That memorial, a small piece of Griffith Stadium, resides today near the athletic fields at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland.

Walter Johnson Memorial Located at Walter Johnson High School (on right side of photograph)

When Griffith Stadium was demolished in 1965, stadium seats were shipped to Orlando, Florida, and installed in Tinker Field, which at the time was the Spring Training home of Calvin Griffith’s Minnesota Twins. Those relics of Washington, D.C., baseball remain at Tinker Field, which is located next door to the Citrus Bowl.

Seats from Griffith Stadium, Installed in 1965 at Tinker Field in Orlando, Florida

Although Griffith Stadium has been a lost ballpark since its demolition in 1965, there still is much to see at the site today. Inside the hospital’s main entrance on Georgia Avenue is a small museum in one of the conference rooms that honors Griffith Stadium and significant events from its history. In a corridor just beyond the conference room is the actual location of home plate, which is marked on the hallway floor along with the outline of the batters box.

The former site of Griffith Stadium is located only three and a half miles north of the Washington Nationals current ballpark – the new Nationals Park, and is well worth a visit for any of the team’s current fans who are interested in experiencing a little of D.C.’s baseball past.

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Walter Johnson: The Montgomery County Farmer Who Could Also Pitch

March 16th, 2013

Walter Johnson was arguably the greatest pitcher of all time. He played his entire major league career for the Washington Senators from 1907 to 1927, compiling a record of 417-279 and an ERA of 2.17 for often last-place Washington squads. Johnson struck out 3,509 batters during his 20 year career and was nicknamed the “Big Train” by Stanley Milliken of the Washington Post because Johnson’s fastball and imposing size reminded the sportswriter of an express train.

Walter Johnson 1909 T-206 Card (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

In 1925, toward the end of his playing career, Johnson purchased a house at 9100 Old Georgetown Road in what is now Bethesda, Maryland. The house, constructed about 1906, was located in what was then an area known as Alta Vista.

The Former Walter Johnson House, 9100 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, Maryland

The house is on the Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places  (click the link to read the survey of the Maryland Historical Trust, which contains additional information about the house).

Walter Johnson House - National Register of Historic Places Plaque

The house was situated on an 8 1/2 acre farm which included chicken coops for eggs and for show, an orchard, a windmill, a tenant house, and a baseball diamond (the original Field of Dreams?).

View of Walter Johnson's Former House from Oakmont Avenue

The house today is used as a doctor’s office, given its close proximity to the nearby National Institutes of Health.

Front Porch of Walter Johnson's Former House

The Johnson farm that surrounded the house was bounded by what is now Johnson Avenue to the north, Old Georgetown Road to the east, Oakmont Avenue/Oak Place to the south, and Hempstead Avenue to the West.

Old Georgetown Road and Johnson Avenue - the Northeast corner of Johnson's Former Farm (Johnson Farmhouse is Visible Through the Trees)

Just west of Hempstead Avenue is the former site of Ayrlawn Farm, a dairy farm that was in operation during the time Johnson lived in Bethesda.

Intersection of Johnson and Hempstead Avenues Looking Northeast Toward Johnson's Former Farm Site

Ayrlawn Park now sits on a portion of the former farm site and includes several original buildings dating back to its days as a dairy farm, including the main farm house and barn silo, which is now part of a local YMCA.

Arylawn Park is Adjacent to the Site of Johnson's Former 8 1/2 Acre Farm in Bethesda

From 1929 until 1932, Johnson managed the Washington Senators and, from 1933 until his dismissal in 1935, managed the Cleveland Indians. Once retired from baseball, in 1936, Johnson sold his house and land in Bethesda and bought a 552 acre farm in Germantown, Maryland.

Railroad Station, Germantown, Maryland

Located 15 miles northwest of his home in Bethesda, the farm in Germantown provided Johnson the opportunity to return to his roots, having grown up in Kansas farm country.

Intersection of Walter Johnson Road and Wisteria Drive Looking East Toward Former Site of Johnson Farmhouse

Although Johnson’s Germantown farm once included a farm house, a large diary barn, and several other buildings, no structures dating back to Johnson’s farm remain on the site today.

Entrance to 19400 Crystal Rock Drive

The Johnson farmhouse was located near what is now 19400 Crystal Rock Drive.

Chesterbrook Academy and Parking Lot - Former Site of Johnson Farmhouse

The Chesterbrook Academy, a preschool, sits in the approximate location of the Johnson farmhouse.

Chesterbrook Academy and Parking Lot - Former Site of Johnson Farmhouse

Trees that once shaded the Johnson farmhouse remain at the site.

Cluster of Trees that Once Surrounded the Johnson Farmhouse

Seneca Valley High School now sits on a portion of Johnson’s former dairy farm.

Seneca Valley High School Occupies A Portion of Walter Johnson's Former Farm

After retirement from baseball, Johnson stayed active in the community, serving as Montgomery County Commissioner from 1938 to 1940. He ran for Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District in 1940 on the Republican ticket, loosing to the Democratic incumbent by only a few thousand votes. Johnson was reelected County Commissioner in 1942 and served in that position until his death in 1946.  Johnson died of a brain tumor at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C.

Entrance to Rockville Cemetery

Johnson is interred in Rockville Cemetery (also known as Union Armory Cemetery), located at 1350 Baltimore Road, in Rockville, Maryland.

Northern and Bowie Avenues Inside Rockville Cemetery

His grave site is located just northeast of the the intersection of Northern and Bowie Avenues.

Grave Site of Walter Johnson and His Wife Hazel Lee Johnson

As is somewhat common of baseball Hall of Famer grave sites, Johnson’s family marker is adorned with baseball souvenirs left by fans.

Johnson Family Marker Adorned With Ballcaps and Baseballs Left By Fans

Walter Johnson’s marker is simple, making no mention of his accomplishments on or off the field of baseball, noting only the years of his birth and death, 1887-1946.

Walter Johnson Grave Marker

Johnson’s beloved wife, Hazel Lee, who predeceased her husband by 16 years, is interred next him.

Grave Marker of Hazel Lee Johnson

Walter Johnson’s memory lives large throughout Montgomery County. In addition to streets named after Johnson, his name also adorns a high school located just two miles north of his former home in Bethesda.

Walter Johnson High School Banner

Walter Johnson High School was opened in 1956, 10 years after Johnson’s death.

Front Entrance to Walter Johnson High School at 6400 Rock Spring Drive in Bethesda, Maryland

Located behind the high school, on the outer wall of the athletics department is a granite monument to Walter Johnson.

Walter Johnson High School Athletics Department

The monument originally resided at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., home of the Washington Senators.

Walter Johnson Monument At The High School Bearing His Name

The monument was placed at Griffith Stadium in 1946 and dedicated at that time by President Harry S. Truman.

Harry S. Truman Dedicating The Walter Johnson Monument at Griffith Stadium (Nats320.blogspot.com)

Another memorial to Johnson is a statute located in front of Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Dedicated in 2009, the statue shows Johnson in mid-pitch, with a repetitious arm motion meant to simulate the course of his pitching motion just prior to release.

Walter Johnson Statute at Nationals Park

Another tribute to Johnson is the Bethesda Big Train, a college wooden bat team that plays in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. The Big Train play their home games at Shirley Povich Field, located in Cabin John Park in Bethesda, Maryland.

Shirley Povich Field, Bethesda, Maryland (Showing Grandstand and Visitor's Dugout)

Montgomery County, Maryland, is proud of the legacy of its adopted son, Walter Johnson. For fans of the game, the many sites in and around the county that are linked to Johnson or placed there in his honor are certainly worth a visit should you find yourself in the Nation’s Capital and looking for a way to connect to and appreciate one of baseball’s greatest pitchers.

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