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Take me out to the ballgame . . . preferably in D.C.

April 24, 2009
By James P. Whipple

I can remember that it was a beautiful summer day in Washington. It was Saturday and I was looking forward to going to Glen Echo amusement Park to go swimming.

My mother told me that she had a surprise. A good friend of hers Uncle Bernie was going to take me to a ball game. I was disappointed; I wanted to go swimming. Uncle Bernie came by in his car, which was a convertible, and my mind began to change. He had a new, Red, 1949 Dodge coop, and I was going to get to ride in it. We rode up 16th Street to U Street and turned right. Way off in the distance, I could see the ball park. It looked like a big building with light posts all around it. It was sight that has stayed with me through all these years.

As we went through the gate and came out into the park, I caught sight of the stands and the beautiful green field with a dirt mound, grass around it. The green outfield laid out before me. They were taking batting practice as we sat down, and there was the sound of the wood bat hitting the ball. I watched as a second basemen gracefully fielded a ground ball and threw to first.

I heard for the first time the hawkers yelling "Get your program here!" "Hot Dogs, Hot dogs! Cold beer here!" and on and on.

Pretty soon all of those empty seats started to fill. Over the loudspeaker came a voice that said "Please rise for our National Anthem." Everyone rose and started to sing. It was the first time I can remember hearing our National Anthem.

I don't remember much about the game. I do remember that the Senators wore white uniforms with red lettering and the visiting team wore gray. I think uncle Bernie said they were the Cleveland Indians. I was too busy looking around at the different people in the stands, and I wanted to explore. I followed some other kids that went down to the third base line hoping to catch foul balls until uncle Bernie called me back. I could not tell you who won the game. I remember trying to tell Mom all about it.

One of the lasting memories of my first trip to the ball park was the smell of baking bread which came from the Wonder Bread factory close to the ball park. I went to Griffith Stadium most of my youth.

It was torn down in 1965 and made way for Howard University Hospital. In my 20s I went to RFK and a new set of Senators. Then they were gone, and for a lot of years I went to ball games in Baltimore.

Now there is a new ball park in Washington and a new team The Washington Nationals. I looked up the 1949 record of the Nats they were 50 wins 104 losses. The team was 47 Games out of first place. Boy, how much I miss that old park and the old Washington Senators.

 
 
 

 

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