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A piece of D.C. baseball history

May 19, 2013, 12:30 PM EST

Over the last few years since my grandmother passed away, my parents have been slowly going through her belongings, items and boxes that scattered across a large basement at her house in Laurel, Md. Among the discoveries they have made is the fact my great grandfather – on my Dad's side – was the batboy for the Washington Senators sometime in the early 20th century. We don't know the exact years, but he was around evidently when Walter Johnson was active as a player. 
In searching through the boxes, my parents made quite the find: a pamphlet autographed by 'The Big Train' himself, signed at his 50th Birthday Testimonial Dinner at the Mayflower Hotel. The event was held on Nov. 6, 1937, just two years after he retired as manager of the Cleveland Indians.
Inside the program is plenty of interesting stuff, especially considering the time period. For example, the advertisements themselves are rather unique. It doesn't seem like many of the companies are still in business and their slogans are appropriate only for back then. My favorite would have to be Burnstine's pawn shop that says: 'You can hock anything here but your wife.' A car ad bragging their vehicle can hit 35 miles per hour is also pretty funny.
There is also a story called 'Life is Just a Game of Innings' that recalls Johnson's career in nine installments, adapted to reflect the game of baseball. It also serves as the night's dinner menu, I believe, as abstract as that sounds. I have pictures of each page below for you all to see.

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  1. original Nats Fan - May 19, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    wow, what a treasure. Thanks for sharing, Chase. I saw the Harvey's ad and remember eating there a long time ago. Wonderful seafood.

  2. LoveDaNats - May 19, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    How cool is this?! Thanks for sharing with us, Chase.

  3. Traveler8 - May 19, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Chase, this is terrific. More on the ads – the McAllister boat on the front page is offering trips to Marshall Hall, down the Potomac where there was an amusement park that I last recall going to on an eighth grade end of school trip in the mid-1960s.

  4. Michael Harvey - May 19, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    "dear old Cleveland, the graveyard for all ambitious managers . . . . Walter went the way of all baseball flesh who wears a Cleveland managerial uniform."Yowza

  5. Gonat - May 19, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    There is a Facebook page for Washington Baseball historians that would love to see that Chase and a few of their members are children and relatives of Senators players.Someone else who would enjoy those pics are Hank Thomas who is a Nats season ticket holder and grandson of Walter Johnson.

  6. Laddie Blah Blah - May 19, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Wow! What a find. My mother threw out my collection of baseball cards, comics, and other treasures while I was away at college. Women, the real enemy.

  7. sjm308 - May 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Chase thanks so much for this! Like Laddie and countless others my cards were sent to baseball card heaven by my mom and I have never let her forget that. I joke that I should have never gone to college if it meant losing Mickey and Willie and all the others. Traveler, I remember Marshall Hall as well in the late 50s! I have two Redskin Football Programs from the early 40's and the adds are the best part. Also have a program from the Touchdown Club Annual Banquet (remember that?) with a Ted Williams autograph. Sometimes its great to live in the past.Sunny and 85 in Napa in spite of our lads loss. Out for a nice hike and maybe just a little wine after.Go Nats!

  8. Exposremains - May 19, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Great stuff. Thanks.

  9. djinFl. - May 19, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Thanks ChaseGreat read to start the day

  10. Candide - May 19, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Love seeing this kind of stuff. Thanks!

  11. Laddie Blah Blah - May 19, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    "I joke that I should have never gone to college if it meant losing Mickey and Willie and all the others."I hid my things where she would never find them, but it was no use. You know how they are.

  12. Tcostant - May 19, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Wow amazing discover!

  13. Eugene in Oregon - May 19, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    A much more pleasant read than a description of last night's game; thanks.

  14. Joe Seamhead - May 19, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Mark, I'm going to forward this to my pal Hank Thomas, Walter Johnson's grandson. He'll get a kick out of it.

  15. Joe Seamhead - May 19, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    oops1 I see it was from Chase. Anyway, I forwarded the column to Hank, Chase.

  16. jeffwx - May 19, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    oh boy, what a great story about a land that time almost forgot..Big Train, the best there ever was.I still have my collection of autographed balls, slowly fading. I have Sam Rice but no Big Train

  17. NatsLady - May 19, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Thanks SO much for sharing, Chase. Love it, great memories. Luckily my mom never cleaned ANYTHING (LOL), and my sister (keeper of the family history) is pretty fanatic about scrap booking. Strange to imagine what her great-grandchildren will discover about the Nats in the 22 century, only 87 years from now.

  18. mick - May 19, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    This is awesome and why this is the BEST blog period in DC!!I relish this stuff.It is priceless and this is something all young DC fans should be enlighten to. THANK YOU MARK!!!

  19. mick - May 19, 2013 at 5:01 PM


  20. Section 222 - May 19, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Section 222 - May 19, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    Having grown up elsewhere, I can't say I have much (actually, any) interest in the Senators. Feel's brother Phil bores me when he goes into his oldtime Senators' reveries. But this is a great piece of memorabilia. Thanks Chase.Oh, and I feel really bad for you guys whose mothers threw out their baseball cards. That's sad.

  22. NatsLady - May 19, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    Morse just gave Bourne an extra base in Cleveland. He had some kind of eye "irritation" that kept him out of the game on Friday and went 0-4 yesterday. Wonder if that is still affecting him.

  23. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 19, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Chase, I love the history and story about your Great Granddad being a batboy.

  24. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 19, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Joe Seamhead, are you Hank's friend Joe G.

  25. NatsLady - May 19, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Morse just gave Cleveland their 2nd run. Morse let the runner get to 2nd by airmailing a throw home (he had ZERO chance to get Bourne at home with his speed). Cleveland announcers are ripping Morse for lack of hustle (letting Bourne get to 2nd) and bad decision on the throw. But I wonder if he is feeling completely well.

  26. Laddie Blah Blah - May 19, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    "Oh, and I feel really bad for you guys whose mothers threw out their baseball cards. That's sad."They lurk, they wait… and then they strike when you are most vulnerable.

  27. NatsLady - May 19, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    Nationals PR ‏@NationalsPR Today's lineup at SDP: Span CF, Lombardozzi 2B, Zimmerman 3B, LaRoche 1B, Moore LF, Bernadina RF, Espinosa SS, Suzuki C, Haren PHoping we'll get a report on Harper.

  28. NatsLady - May 19, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    Zooook sure hates to take a day off.

  29. natsfan1a - May 19, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Zowie, what a find! Reading the story (9 – innings – 9!) was more fun than watching a wrestling bear. (Well, okay, I've never really watched a wrestling bear.)Maybe it's fate that you became a beat writer for the Nats, Mark, given your family's history with DC baseball. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  30. natsfan1a - May 19, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    Oops, sorry. That was Chase rather than Mark.

  31. NatsLady - May 19, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    David Murphy ‏@HighCheese Right hamstring strain for Carlos Ruiz, Phillies announce

  32. natsfan1a - May 19, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    How about the guys who stuck them in the spokes of their bicycle wheels? I will say that it did make a cool noise. :-)222 said…Oh, and I feel really bad for you guys whose mothers threw out their baseball cards. That's sad.

  33. MicheleS - May 19, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    Chase, thanks for sharing this! This is a great treasure for you and your family.

  34. djinFl. - May 19, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    @natsfan1a we only put those da** Yankees cards in the bike spokes. Never our beloved Senators. Bad investment choices made young in life.

  35. natsfan1a - May 19, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    That's funny, dj. :-)

  36. Drew - May 19, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Chase, that's marvelous.If anyone hasn't read grandson Hank Thomas's bio of The Big Train, it's the definitive account — a great read.

  37. Sec. 3, My Natural Sofa - May 20, 2013 at 1:50 AM

    Very cool!

  38. JaneB - May 20, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    I am not a Senators aficionado but I totally LOVE that so many generations of your family knew to keep this. This is an example of one of the things I most love about baseball: how it gets passed down in families. Thank you SO MUCH for this post!

  39. Scooter - May 22, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    I'm catching up on old posts, so just seeing this now. Chase, thanks so much for sharing this with us.





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