The Swampoodle Grounds


1024px-Flickr_-_USCapitol_-_Washington_Nationals_baseball_team_of_the_National_League_circa_1886-1889

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_Area_added_to_a_Rand,_McNally_&_Co._Map_of_1893
Swampoodle (See larger map of the area below)

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.

~ baseballrebecca

 

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!)

Swampoodle_Area_added_to_a_Rand,_McNally_&_Co._Map_of_1893
Swampoodle area of Washington, DC, in 1893 (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
Advertisements

Hank Aaron Stadium


dscn7572.jpgA little over week ago, I began writing about my recent trip to Alabama, where I visited the Negro Southern League Museum and the Mobile BayBears. But that was before the trade deadline, before they traded Jonathan Schoop, another of my favorite Orioles and the other half of the Machado-Schoop bromance. (Obviously, I’m still not over it.)

Today and tomorrow, I’ll finally finish my tale of baseball in Alabama and my visit to the Mobile BayBears, who will be relocating to Madison, AL, in 2020. They’ve done a phenomenal job of preserving baseball history at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile. Not only did they move Hank Aaron’s childhood home from Toulminville, AL, to the stadium grounds, but they have several historical exhibits around the stadium.

For starters, check out the pictures of Hank Aaron’s childhood home:

Throughout the stadium concourse, there are actual stadium seats from current and former baseball stadiums around the country. First, there’s Fulton County Stadium, where Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s record:

Next, we stumbled upon seats from Wrigley Field, although it’s unclear exactly why they were there:

DSCN7578DSCN7577

 

Finally, there are seats from Milwaukee County Stadium, where Hank Aaron started his career with the Milwaukee Braves and ended it with the Milwaukee Brewers:

DSCN7637

Stay tuned for more about the Mobile BayBears tomorrow!

~ baseballrebecca

NASA and the All-Star Game


128a7469
Astronaut Terry Virts, April 15, 2015 (photo courtesy of NASA.gov)

Even NASA got in on the fun at the All-Star Game yesterday. Check out NASA’s tweet below and the video from the NASA Administrator.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Stat-urday, 7/14/2018


1200px-Tropicana_field_from_air
Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL, current home of the Tampa Bay Rays

On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays unveiled their plans for a new stadium in Tampa. While the team has settled on a proposed site in Ybor City, there are still several decisions to be made, including who will pay for it all. In the meantime, here are some stats, based on what was revealed on Tuesday:

  • Seating capacity: 28,216
  • Total capacity: 30,842
  • Stadium size: 900,000 feet
  • Parking spaces: 10,000 within a 10-minute walk; 23,000 within one mile
  • Time to build: four to five ears
  • Total cost: $892,429,823
  • Current capacity of Tropicana Field: 31,042
  • Current attendance, per game: 14,745
  • Population of the surrounding area: 350,000 in the city of Tampa; 4.3 million in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan statistical area.

Check out the ballpark renderings, posted by Ballpark Digest.

Happy Stat-urday!

~ baseballrebecca

San Diego-Jack Murphy-Qualcomm-SDCCU Stadium


img_2039The first time I ever went to San Diego I had to find Qualcomm Stadium. The Padres were still playing there at the time, but, unfortunately, it was the off-season. That was over 15 years ago. So, when I recently found myself in San Diego again, I decided it was time to see how the stadium was doing and how it looked several years later. After all, I was in San Diego and the Padres were out of town. I had to find something baseball-related to do.

Now called San Diego County Credit Union Stadium, or SDCCU Stadium for short, the stadium is still alive and well. Like other stadiums from its time, SDCCU Stadium is easily accessible from major highways. It is bordered by interstate highways on three sides (I-805, I-8, and I-15) and surrounded by a huge parking lot. It even has its own San Diego Trolley stop. The road bordering it to the north is still called Friars Road, an obvious reference to the former tenants. It’s located about 10 miles north of the Padres’ new downtown home, Petco Park.

img_2037The stadium opened in August 1967 as San Diego Stadium. It was home to the San Diego Chargers. The following year, the Pacific Coast League San Diego Padres played their final season there before giving way to San Diego’s MLB expansion team in 1969.

In 1981, the stadium’s name was changed to San Diego-Jack Murphy Stadium after Jack Murphy’s death in 1980. (Murphy was a local sportswriter who had advocated for the construction of a multi-purpose stadium in San Diego in the early 1960s.) In 1997, naming rights to the stadium were sold for $18 million to the local Qualcomm Corporation and the stadium was renamed Qualcomm Stadium. The naming rights expired on June 14, 2017, and were subsequently purchased by San Diego County Credit Union for $500,000. They hold the rights through the end of this year.

img_2042The stadium remains the home of the San Diego State University Aztecs football team; they have played there since it opened in 1967. Starting next year, it will once again host professional football when the Alliance of American Football begins play in February 2019.

It makes me happy to see a stadium continue to be used after its baseball team moves to a newer stadium. Indeed, very few multi-purpose stadiums remain and even fewer host MLB teams. As much as brand new, fancy stadiums are nice to watch a game in, I still miss stadiums like Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium or Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. I only wish I’d seen a game at the former Qualcomm Stadium.

May you continue to live a long and happy life, SDCCU Stadium (or whatever your next name is)!

~ baseballrebecca

Murder Mystery at the Ballpark


 

Federal_Dyestuff_Location_with_Label_low_resolutionAccording to nationalpastime.com, on June 7, 1921, “The body of a slain girl is found at the Base Ball Grounds in Tennessee, the home of the Kingsport Indians. The scheduled Class D Appalachian League game against the Knoxville Pioneers is canceled to prevent the bloodhounds from becoming confused as police investigate the foul play in the ballpark.”

Curious, I needed to find out more. With a little digging, I found a few more details. On the morning of June 7, 1921, the business manager for the Kingsport Indians of the Class D Appalachian League found a young girl’s body under the bleachers at the stadium. The girl was later identified as Elsie Lawson; she was only 11 years old.

Police quickly identified a suspect. The 18-year old Uern Quillen was arrested for the girl’s murder. Witnesses had seen the two talking together on the night of the 6th, after that evening’s baseball game between Kingsport and Knoxville. When he was arrested, the shirt and shoes Quillen was wearing had blood on them. Later, footprints near the body were matched to Quillen. Quillen was tried, found guilty, and given a life sentence on October 3, 1921. He later admitted his guilt to his lawyer and other inmates.

The 1921 season was the first season for minor league baseball in Kingsport, TN. The Indians were an independent team in the Class D Appalachian League. The Indians would remain in Kingsport until the Appalachian League folded mid-season in 1925. The Appalachian League was revived in 1937 and again in 1957. Since 1963, the league has been a Rookie-level league. Today, there are 10 teams in the league, including the Kingsport Mets.

~ baseballrebecca

 

Dodger Stadium During the Off-Season


img_1620I’ve always loved Dodger Stadium. Maybe its because its one of the three oldest MLB stadiums still in use. Maybe its because its all the way across the country in the Golden State, the land of stars, the land of milk and honey. Or, perhaps, its the the lure and lore of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Whatever the reason, there’s just something about Dodger Stadium and the Los Angeles Dodgers that always draws me in.

So, when I found myself in Los Angeles recently for a business trip, I had to visit Dodger Stadium. It didn’t matter that I’d been there before, or that it was the off season, or that I was with non-baseball fan coworkers. I had to make the pilgrimage.

img_1602What many folks might not know is that Dodger Stadium is open on days there are no games – even during the off-season. You simply enter at Gate A (Sunset Gate) at the corner of Vin Scully Avenue and Stadium Way. Inform the person at the gate that you want to visit the gift shop and follow his or her directions to get to Lot P (i.e., “follow the blue line”). Eventually you’ll end up at the top level of the stadium and can go right into the gift shop.

img_1615Just outside the gates is the retired numbers plaza, where you’ll see giant statues of the Dodgers’ retired numbers – chief among them is no. 42. To the left you’ll see a staircase that will take you down to the Left Field Reserve Level, where you’ll find the recently installed Jackie Robinson statue (more on that tomorrow). After visiting the gift shop, you can enter the stadium. An existential, life-affirming feeling will take hold of you as you soak it all in. You will be one with the baseball gods.

The Dodgers offer a variety of stadium tours and for select dates through March 4 have a pop-up museum commemorating their 60 years in Los Angeles.

~ baseballrebecca