Wade Lefler’s key pinch hits in September 1924

In the heat of the 1924 pennant race, the Senators acquired veteran minor leaguer Wade Lefler to provide what the team hoped would be a potent bat off the bench. The left-hand hitter did not disappoint. In four pinch-hit at-bats, Lefler drove in six runs with two doubles and a single. His first hit drove … Continue reading Wade Lefler’s key pinch hits in September 1924

Minnie Minoso, the only expansion Senator in the Hall of Fame

Orestes “Minnie” Minoso, inducted in 2022, is the only member of the Hall of Fame to have played for the expansion Washington Senators. He did so during that franchise’s worst season, 1963, when he was 39 years old. It was the last time he played on semi-regular basis, appearing 109 games and getting up 363 … Continue reading Minnie Minoso, the only expansion Senator in the Hall of Fame

Howie Kendrick: 2019 post-season hero

Without the hitting heroics of Howie Kendrick, the Washington Nationals would not have reached the 2019 World Series. The veteran infielder, acquired at the trade deadline in 2017 for a minor league pitcher who never made it, had a career season in 2019. Then, his 10th-inning grand slam beat the favored Dodgers in Game Five … Continue reading Howie Kendrick: 2019 post-season hero

Fred Schulte helped Nats become 1933 A.L. champs

Fred Schulte played centerfield for the pennant-winning 1933 Washington Senators. His three-run homer in Game 5 of the World Series against the Giants pulled the Senators even. But New York won on a 10th-inning homer by Mel Ott that tipped off of Schulte’s glove. The victory gave the Giants the championship, four games to one. … Continue reading Fred Schulte helped Nats become 1933 A.L. champs

Win Mercer, 1890s’ heartthrob, two-way star of the N.L. Senators

George Barclay “Win” Mercer was a 20-game winner in back-to-back seasons for woeful Washington teams in the 1890s’ National League. He batted .305 as a frequently used position player in a five-year stretch from 1897 to 1901. By all accounts, the popular Mercer was a handsome ladies man and a big-time gambler. His nickname, reflecting … Continue reading Win Mercer, 1890s’ heartthrob, two-way star of the N.L. Senators

The unwelcome records of the 2022 Nationals

Let us count the ways the Nationals of 2022 smashed a number of long-standing franchise and season records for futility. A 55-107 fifth-place finish, worst since Washington regained a team in 2005, can do that. Dave Martinez The Nationals finished 46 games behind the Braves and Mets, who tied with 101 wins, and 14 games … Continue reading The unwelcome records of the 2022 Nationals

Who, if anyone, was the model for ‘Joe Hardy’?

Joe Hardy was the fictional baseball star created by J. Douglass Wallop in his 1954 novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, adapted soon after for Broadway and film as Damn Yankees. Middle-aged Washington Senators fan Joe Boyd makes a deal with the devil to become a great player (Joe Hardy) and, he hopes, … Continue reading Who, if anyone, was the model for ‘Joe Hardy’?

Paolo Espino’s near-record innings pitched without a win

When Paolo Espino took the mound to start the Nationals’ penultimate game of 2022, he was on the verge of becoming the pitcher who threw the most innings in a season without winning a game. In 18 previous starts, although his record was 0-8, he always had lasted at least four innings. Espino Facing the … Continue reading Paolo Espino’s near-record innings pitched without a win

All-Star Games in D.C.: 1937, 1956, 1962, 1969 and 2018

During the depth of the Great Depression, with a quarter of the American workforce unemployed, baseball attendance had fallen by 40 percent. A World’s Fair was scheduled in Chicago in the summer of 1933, and the city’s mayor wanted a major sports event to accompany it. He asked the publisher of the Chicago Tribune for … Continue reading All-Star Games in D.C.: 1937, 1956, 1962, 1969 and 2018

2022: A record 43 games without a starter winning

Washington’s Tanner Rainey saved a 3-2 victory for Josiah Gray over the Phillies on July 6, 2022, in Philadelphia. As poorly as the Nats were playing, nobody could imagine then that it would be seven weeks – 43 games – before another Nationals’ starting pitcher would win a game. Victories by starters clearly are far … Continue reading 2022: A record 43 games without a starter winning

Ty Cobb’s last hit came at Griffith Stadium

Connie Mack’s Athletics were battling the Yankees for the 1928 pennant when Philadelphia came into Washington for a double-header on September 3, 1928. Down 6-0 with two outs left in the first game, Mack sent up 41-year-old Ty Cobb as a pinch-hitter against Bump Hadley of the Senators. Cobb, in his second year playing for … Continue reading Ty Cobb’s last hit came at Griffith Stadium

Walter Johnson, George Washington and the Rappahannock

Next to the apocryphal story about George Washington and the cherry tree, the most familiar tale told about the Father of Our Country involves what he threw across the Rappahannock River. It was even mentioned on the iconic Beach Boys’ album, All Summer Long, in 1964.* Unlike the essential details of young George chopping down … Continue reading Walter Johnson, George Washington and the Rappahannock

July 6, 1920: Nats yield a record 14 runs in an inning

The New York Yankees reclaimed first place in American League with a 17-0 pounding of Washington on Tuesday, July 6, 1920, at the ballpark that would become known as Griffith Stadium. What made the game more memorable, however, was what happened in the fifth inning. That's when the Yankees scored what at that time was … Continue reading July 6, 1920: Nats yield a record 14 runs in an inning

The Cracker Jack Classics and other RFK exhibitions

For six years, starting in 1982, Robert F. Kennedy Stadium played host to a star-studded old-timers game that was originally called the Cracker Jack Old Timers Baseball Classic. On July 19, 1982, a crowd of 29,196 attended the first of these five-inning games with the proceeds benefiting players who retired before the pension system in … Continue reading The Cracker Jack Classics and other RFK exhibitions

Team with the fewest stolen bases in a season? The 1957 Senators

For a variety of reasons, stolen-base attempts ticked up in 2022 after several years of decline. Bigger bases and restrictions on the positioning of infielders take effect in 2023, with the intent of producing more base hits and probably increasing successful stolen-base attempts. So it’s not likely steals will ever again drop to the level … Continue reading Team with the fewest stolen bases in a season? The 1957 Senators

July 4, 1940: George Case ties record for most hits in a double-header

On July 4, 1940, at Griffith Stadium, speedy Senators’ outfielder George Case had nine hits in a double-header against the Athletics, matching a major league record that still stands. In the modern era (post-1900), this record is held by six others, but was achieved the last time more than 60 years ago. Case’s 9-for-10 was … Continue reading July 4, 1940: George Case ties record for most hits in a double-header

Post-1900 A.L., N.L., Washington has never been no-hit at home

Playing at home, Washington's American and National League teams -- be it the current Nationals, the original Senators or the expansion Senators -- have never been no-hit. Here's a look at the visiting teams that have been no-hit in D.C. and no-hitters throw by Washington pitchers on the road. The Nationals, 2005 to 2022: Nationals’ … Continue reading Post-1900 A.L., N.L., Washington has never been no-hit at home

Ron Hansen’s 1968 unassisted triple play

More than half a century has passed since a player for the Washington Senators accomplished one of the rarest feats in the game: an unassisted triple play. It happened on July 30, 1968, a blowout loss for Washington during a season in which the Senators became the last American League team to finish in 10th … Continue reading Ron Hansen’s 1968 unassisted triple play

The Nats’ late-season nightmares, 1955-1960

The original Washington American League franchise finished with a winning record for the last time -- barely -- in 1952. By winning on the last day of the season, it edged Boston for fifth place with a 78-76 record. Attendance at Griffith Stadium, with the league’s smallest capacity, was just shy of 700,000, but more … Continue reading The Nats’ late-season nightmares, 1955-1960

Sept. 26, 1964: At D.C. Stadium, Mel Stottlemyre became the last pitcher to get five hits

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the designated hitter became universal for 2022. Pitchers, unless another Shohei Ohtani emerges, will no longer routinely bat in either league. So it’s worth looking back at a memorable game 58 seasons ago: September 26, 1964, the last time a pitcher actually had – and will ever again have … Continue reading Sept. 26, 1964: At D.C. Stadium, Mel Stottlemyre became the last pitcher to get five hits