Earlier this week I was reading through “This Day in All Teams History” at Nationalpastime.com, when I stumbled upon this entry for September 11, 1886:
“At Washington’s Swampoodle Grounds, backstop Connie Mack makes his major league debut when the Nationals, in a rare victory, edge the Philadelphia Quakers, 4-3. The journeyman catcher will post the most big league wins and losses as a manager, compiling a 3731-3948 (.486) record with the Pirates and A’s during his 53-year managerial career.”
Having lived and worked in the Washington, DC, area for years, I was surprised I’d never heard of the Swampoodle Grounds. After all, “Swampoodle” is not a name one easily forgets (note: see my disclaimer below). So, I did my research.
Swampoodle was a neighborhood in northeast Washington, DC (now part of the so-called NoMa District). The term is actually a contraction of the words “swamp” and “puddle” and is a reference to the fact that the nearby Tiber Creek often overflowed in that area. The neighborhood was originally settled by Irish immigrants escaping the potato famine in the mid-1800s.
Located in the neighborhood was the Swampoodle Grounds, more officially known as Capitol Park. Home of the Washington Nationals baseball team from 1886 to 1889, the ballpark was bounded by Delaware Avenue (first base side), G Street (right field), North Capitol Street (left field), and F Street (third base side). Today, Union Station stands near the site of the former ballpark. The name will once again be used for a new playground and dog park to be located 3rd and L Streets.
Postscript: Naturally, as I did my research, I also discovered that the Swampoodle Grounds was featured in the blog Archived Innings earlier this year and I had, in fact, read the post and liked it. Obviously, I have a terrible memory. (Next year at this time I probably rediscover the Swampoodle Grounds all over again!)