“For my part I am never more at home in America than at a baseball game like this in Clark Griffith’s gem of a field, gem small, in beautiful weather in the capital of the country and my side winning.”
-From Robert Frost’s 1956 essay on baseball for Sports Illustrated
September 4, 2012, Washington, DC: It’s four p.m. on the Tuesday after Labor Day, three hours before game time. Vendors are arriving to work and a few early birds are milling about the box office outside Nationals Park, ready for the second game of this week’s series against the Chicago Cubs. I bike past them on my way home, detouring down the right field line and up the wooden boardwalk along the Anacostia River. I take the moment to imagine the possibilities: Could this city be home to postseason baseball for the first time since 1933?
From the upper deck yesterday, it certainly felt possible.
Yesterday the Nationals secured their 82nd win of the season, a milestone that gives this city a baseball team with a winning record for the first time since 1969. Today the Nationals are in first place with summer behind us and nothing but September and October baseball ahead.
We are not the first to witness great baseball in Washington even though it’s been long enough to feel that way. Blogger Tom over at Ghosts of DC has some great old footage of Griffith Stadium’s heyday before its demolition in 1965. He recounts stories of Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators, of Josh Gibson and the Homestead Grays, of the last time Washington won a World Series way back in 1924. I got wrapped up in those posts today, drawn to the history of Washington baseball as I envisioned its bright future.
Will Strasburg get shut down? Will pedicabs shuttle fans to Barracks Row come October? Will Teddy ever win a race? What happens next is unclear, but meantime the present isn’t so bad. It is the first week of September 2012 in Washington, the sweet spot when we can still bike to a ballgame and buy a last-minute ticket for $12 to see a winning team. It is just after Labor Day and our city has the baseball bug. How could it not?
Related Posts on Neighborhood Nomads:
- The Ballpark as The Catalyst (April 4, 2012)