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The 1939 Anacostia High School Indians: Underdogs in the D.C. Public High School Baseball League

The 1939 Anacostia High School Indians were a brand new team in the D.C. public high school baseball league. Despite being an underdog, they had a strong season and even made it to first place. Read the story of their season here!
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Anacostia High School Indians baseball team in 1939 (Library of Congress)
Anacostia High School Indians baseball team in 1939 (Library of Congress)

Anacostia High School was a brand new school, having opened in 1937. Their second full season of baseball would be the 1939 season and the photo above is the 12-man roster and their coach, Roland Lund.

The Washington Post had a preseason analysis on March 30th, 1939 of the Anacostia High School Indians, listing them as a dark horse candidate in the D.C. public high school baseball league.

Splitting the public school baseball tangle into eastern and western divisions may cut down the number of games each team will be forced to play, but it will do nothing to lessen the caliber of competition Anacostia, the newest club in the series, will have to face.

Due to its location, the little school down on the flats will be in the same league with Eastern, winner of 11 out of the last 15 baseball series, and McKinley, which has dropped below fourth place only three times in 20 years of competition.

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However, Coach Roland Lund looks on the chances of his tiny squad with considerable satisfaction, and even certainty. He has only 25 out for baseball, as compared with 130 for Eastern and numbers graduating down to 50 at the other schools. But he still smiles when he talks of the coming season.

“Tell you why,” he says, “I’ve got two of the likeliest-looking pitchers in the series. They’s both right-handers–not a Cuban among them–and their names are Art Faircloth and Jack Burroughs.”

Lund doesn’t end his praise with his right-handed pitchers, though. He has two novices, Earl Watkins and Hank Tanner, who hurl from the port side and both have speed.

Yesterday Anacostia held a practice session with Eastern, its mother school, and a team that promises it a deal of trouble. Tanner started on the mound for the Indians. He was wild as the proverbial March hare–he walked two runs across in one inning–but he showed considerable promise, nonetheless.

Anacostia’s schedule:

April 4, at Episcopal; 18, Western; 21, at Eastern (Interhigh); 25, at Roosevelt; 28, at Tech (Interhigh); May 2, Central; 5, G . W. Frosh; 10, Tech at Eastern (Interhigh); 12, Bethesda; 16, at Eastern (Interhigh); 19, Wilson; 26, at Mont-Blair.

Anacostia v. Episcopal box score (1939)
Anacostia v. Episcopal box score (1939)

The team fared well in its opening game that year against Episcopal in Alexandria on April 4th. The article the next day reported the strong victory.

Alexandria, Va., April 4.–Anacostia High School batsmen made good use of the wildness of two opposing hurlers and errors afield to win their opening game of the season from Episcopal High, 12-3, in a loosely played game here today. It was the first home game for the Maroons, who opened their season yesterday in Washington with a 6-3 victory over Georgetown Prep.

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Art Faircloth, veteran Anacostia hurler, limited Episcopal to four well-scattered hits, and after his mates jumped off to an early lead, he was never in any real danger. He had trouble in finding the plate during the early innings, when he allowed all three Episcopal runs.

A couple of weeks later, things were bleak for the team because five players were benched — Farr (C), Scott (1B), McLaughlin (2B), Smith (3B) and Seaman (SS) — due to academic probation, just prior to the game against powerhouse Eastern High School. Ouch, that’s the entire infield.

The team was an underdog all year, but in early May they were in first place. The jubilation didn’t last as they went into their rescheduled game against Tech on May 26th. McKinley Tech pounded the Indians 8-4, eliminating them from the Eastern Division race, and allowing Eastern High School to take the title and face Central High School in the city championship at Griffith Stadium (hmm, future post?).

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