Opening Day 1913 … Play Ball!

Play Ball - April 10th, 1913 (Washington Herald)
Play Ball – April 10th, 1913 (Washington Herald)

First pitch for 2013 is only a few hours from now … Seriously, I am so pumped for baseball. The sting of our last game has now subsided, and I’m ready to watch our team put on a great show at Nats Park. I’m feeling good about it and it’s time to share a few old Nationals/Senators stories.

Clark Griffith quote - April 10th, 1913 (Washington Herald)
Clark Griffith quote – April 10th, 1913 (Washington Herald)

Here’s one from Opening Day in 1913. The Nationals were playing the Yankees that day and Walter Johnson was to take the mound.

The weather for the day was “unsettled and cloudy,” with gates opening at noon and first pitch at 3 o’clock. The stands were packed and almost one in twelve D.C. residents was in attendance.

Below is the beginning of an article the following day in the Washington Herald.

Before the President of the United States Woodrow Wilson, the Vice President Thomas R. Marshall, Cabinet members, judges, members of the diplomatic corps and thousands of other yelling, freezing fans the baseball season in Washington was inaugurated yesterday with the Nationals on the long end of a 2 to 1 score against the New York Highlanders.

One person in every twelve that lives in the Capital packed away dull care, got on their pulse warmers and braved the football weather to see the opening game. Not a vacant seat was to be found in the immense stands and bleachers and long before the game started every available standing space was taken.

There was probably no more motley gathering ever saw a ball game in the Capital. It was also the largest crowd that ever attended an opening game here. The weather made furs more common than electric fans. In contrast to the fur clad women of the crowd were the spring bonnet decked fair ones who were bound to show off their latest hat even if the weather was cold enough for oil stoves. So this gaily decorated crowd swarmed into the grandstands and shivered throughout the afternoon and, incidentally, witnessed a modern game of ball, minus many trimmings but nevertheless a real game.

It was a tight game, but ultimately, the Nationals beat the Yankees 2 to 1.

They went on to finish second in the league, 6.5 games behind the Philadelphia Athletics, the eventual world champs, beating the New York Giants.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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