Baseball’s postseason began this week and today the San Francisco Giants take on the Washington Nationals. The last postseason matchup of baseball’s Nationals and Giants took place in the 1933 World Series, when the teams were known as the Washington Senators and New York Baseball Giants.
FDR was on hand to thrown out the first ball in Game Three on Thursday, October 5th at Griffith Stadium in Washington, as shown in this newsreel “local” intended to show in DC area movie theaters that weekend.FDR is shown shaking hands with the opposing play-managers, both future Hall-of-Famers: Joe Cronin (SS) for the Washington Nationals, and Bill Terry (1B) for the New York Giants. Other Hall-of-Famers playing include Mel Ott (RF), Giants #4. Goose Goslin (RF), Nationals #5; and Heinie Manush (LF), Nationals #3.FDR did not prove to be a good luck charm for the New York team that particular day, but the Giants did go on to win the Series 4 to 1.
The Washington Nationals vs. The New York Giants, 1933
As the Washington, D.C. area descends into playoff fever, The Unwritten Record takes a look back to the last postseason match-up between the Nationals and the Giants, the 1933 World Series contest between the American League’s Washington Nationals (also known as the Senators) and the National League’s New York Giants.* The action was covered in two Universal newsreels, released October 4th and October 9th 1933. The soundtracks for these reels no longer exist, but the footage and supplemental material in the production files have survived.
Game one, played in New York October 3rd, 1933, is shown in Universal News Vol. 5, Rel. 186. According to the release sheet, we see “Mel Ott’s first inning homer, Goose Goslin’s four sacker and that famous sixth inning slaughter of the innocents.”
(Don’t miss the Program covers from those games, discovered in the production file from these newsreels.)
A Rematch 81 Years in the Making?
This afternoon’s National League playoff game between the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants marks the first time since the 1933 World Series that a team from Washington has faced the Giants in the post season.
Eight-one years ago to the day on October 3, 1933, the New York Giants hosted the Washington Nationals in Game 1 of the World Series. At the time the Nationals (originally the Washington Senators) were in the American League, and would lose the series in 5 games.
A few of the Hall of Famers in the series included Heinie Manush, Washington, #2 (LF); Goose Goslin: Washington, #5 (LF); Joe Cronin: Washington, #4 (SS); Bill Terry: New York, #3 (1B); and Mel Ott: New York, #4 (3B). Also playing for Washington that year was catcher Moe Berg, the “brainiest guy in baseball” and OSS agent.
The Nationals would later leave Washington, becoming the Minnesota Twins in 1961. The Giants remained in New York until 1957, before they moved to San Francisco.
Staff from our Special Media Division and Office of Presidential Libraries recently uncovered this scorecard and program along with other materials from the 1933 World Series, included with the production file for the Universal News newsreel from that week.
Excited for the Washington Nationals’ post-season?! Come to the National Archives Museum tomorrow at noon to hear reporter and author Frederic Frommer discuss the history of baseball in the DC area, including the 1924 World Series championship team and the Homestead Grays, the DC Negro League pennant winners.
Click here for more information about this free program or to reserve a seat. This program will also be streamed online.
Image: Untitled illustration by cartoonist Clifford Berryman, showing Uncle Sam offering a baseball bat called “National Big Stick” to a Washington Nationals baseball player in reference to President Theodore Roosevelt’s diplomacy policy. 4/10/1907
Get ready for the playoffs with tomorrow’s talk on the History of Washington Baseball at usnatarchives. #GoNats!
You Gotta Have Heart: A History of Washington Baseball
“First in War, First in Peace… and Last in the American League.” Expressions such as this fill the story of baseball in the nation’s capital. In his book You Gotta Have Heart: A History of Washington Baseball from 1859 to the 2012 National League East Champions, author Frederic J. Frommer provides a complete history of baseball in the DC area, including the 1924 World Series championship team and the Homestead Grays, the Negro League pennant winners. The book features the voices of current and former players, along with Presidents, senators, and political commentators who have called the teams their own. A book signing follows the program.
This program will be streamed live on YouTube.
Ahoy, mateys! ‘Tis Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Here be President Gerald “Arrr” Ford talkin’ wit’ Al Oliver, a Pirate from t’ three rivers o’ Pittsburgh, before t’ Major League All-Starrr Game on July 13, 1976.
Be ye lookin fer pirates of a different stripe?
Little League Baseball celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
President Ford welcomed the final eight teams from the 1974 Little League World Series to the White House on August 26, 1974. The teams represented Red Bluff, California; New Haven, Connecticut; Tallmadge, Ohio; Jackson, Tennessee; Victoria, British Colombia, Canada; Maracaibo, Venezuela; the Republic of China (Taiwan); and Athens, Greece, which included the children of American military and Embassy staff in Europe.
Image: President Ford with the Little League baseball team from Red Bluff, California (White House photograph A0364-23)
Gerald R. Ford walks with Darrell Johnson, manager of the Boston Red Sox, and George “Sparky” Anderson, manager of the Cincinnati Reds, before the start of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 7/13/76.
-from the Ford Library
Babe Ruth’s Major League Baseball Debut, 100 Years Ago
George Herman “Babe” Ruth made his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox one hundred years ago on July 11, 1914. Originally signed as a pitcher, Ruth quickly established a reputation for hitting, breaking the single season home run record by 1919. Ruth played with the Red Sox for 5 years until his contract was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919 (and triggering the now-reversed “Curse of the Bambino” and denying Boston another World Series title for 86 years).
Ruth is seen in this unidentified newsreel excerpt, circa 1919. Based on the clues in the title frame, our best guess is this was the September 8, 1919 Red Sox-Yankees game at the New York Polo Grounds, when Ruth hit his 26th home run of the season.
(This footage is part of a documentary film collection donated to the National Archives by CBS in 1967)
We’ve made it to Thursday! How about some summer baseball photos?
President John F. Kennedy throws out the first ball at the 32nd All-Star Baseball Game, on this day in 1962.
Speaker of the House John W. McCormack, Dave Powers, Vice President Johnson, President Kennedy, Commisioner of Baseball Ford. C. Frick, Lawrence O’Brien, others ( in foreground- Dennis Marcel, Frank Brown, members of the Washington Boys Club ). Washington, D.C., 7/10/1962.
-from the JFK Library
Lou Gehrig, the “Luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
In 1939, the Fourth of July coincided with Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium. A day usually reserved for parades and fireworks was transformed into one of the most solemn, heart-wrenching, and inspiring moments in the history of sports. It was here, before 62,000 fans, that Gehrig proclaimed he was the “Luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
After a few games into the 1939 season, Gehrig’s performance had noticeably declined. On May 2, Gehrig took himself out of the lineup for the first time in 2,130 consecutive games. Unbeknownst to him, he would never play again.
Soon after Gehrig’s streak came to an end, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease he is synonymous with to this day. After hearing the news, the Yankee clubhouse made arrangements to honor their longtime all-star.
On July 4, 1939, the Yankees played a double header against the Washington Senators. Between the two games, players, coaches, and other notable figures came out to shower Gehrig with gifts and kind words. The Yankees also began a new baseball tradition as they retired Gehrig’s number 4 uniform.
Gehrig almost did not speak. As the ceremony came to an end and the microphones were being hauled away, the “Iron Horse” decided to say a few words. As Gehrig fought away tears, he made one of the most iconic speeches of all time.
It seems appropriate that Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day fell on Independence Day. In his famous Declaration, Thomas Jefferson ascribed that “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Despite his grim diagnosis and tragic decline, Gehrig embraced Jefferson’s unalienable rights. As he famously said, “I may have gotten a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”
Watch the newsreel on the National Archives YouTube Channel, and read more about Gehrig’s iconic speech via Media Matters » “An Awful Lot to Live For”: Lou Gehrig’s Final Season in the News
Universal News Volume 11, Release 786, Story #5, July 5, 1939
"Famous ‘Yank’ Steps Down: DETROIT, MICH.
—-Lou Gehrig, colorful Yankee first baseman, pioneer of over 2000 straight games in his 15 years ‘at bat’, takes himself out of the line-up before the game with the ‘Tigers’. He hopes to make a come-back!”
Seventy-five years ago on May 2, 1939, New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig voluntarily benched himself prior to a game against the Detroit Tigers, following a dramatic decline in his performance, and ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games. Gehrig would not take the field again, and would eventually be diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He succumbed to the disease only two years later, on June 2, 1941.
Congress in the Archives will feature guest posts from our staff. Today’s post come from archivist Adam Berenbak, our resident baseball expert. Happy Opening Day, Washington Nationals fans!
In July of 1949, the House Un-American Activities Committee, or (HUAC), held hearings regarding “communist infiltration of minority groups” in response to comments made by actor and activist Paul Robeson. On the final day of the hearings, Jackie Robinson appeared on behalf of the committee despite his reluctance to participate in political affairs.
Robinson, who was in the middle of an MVP season, delivered an eloquent statement, neither defending nor outright condemning Robeson. He denounced racial discrimination and stated that “talk about ‘Communists stirring up Negroes to protest’ only makes present misunderstanding worse than ever. Negroes were stirred up long before there was a Communist Party, and they’ll stay stirred up long after the party has disappeared — unless Jim Crow has disappeared by then as well.”
Robinson spoke for 20 minutes, and then headed straight from Washington, DC, to Brooklyn, where, in a late afternoon game at Ebbets Field, he hit a triple and stole two bases to lead the Dodgers in victory over the Chicago Cubs.
First Page of Statement of Jackie Robinson before House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), July 18, 1949, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, (NAID 7822182)
Happy Birthday Jackie Robinson! January 31, 1919 - October 24, 1972
Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Former National Baseball League player, Jackie Robinson with his son.], 08/28/1963
Rowland Scherman, photographer.
Born 95 years ago today, Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. This decision would not only integrate baseball, but would help the country work to achieve equal rights for all. Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., once commented to baseball pitcher Don Newcombe, “Don, you and Jackie will never know how easy you made my job, through what you went through on the baseball field.”
Before becoming famous, Lt. Jack R. Robinson was court-martialed at Camp Hood, Texas, because he refused to move to the back of the bus after being told to do so by a bus driver and disobeying an order from a superior officer. Robinson was acquitted of all charges and received an honorable discharge, but this was not the only experience he would have in fighting discrimination.
Many of these milestone events from Robinson’s life are documented in primary sources from the National Archives.
The Pala Reservation Baseball team. They made a splendid record the past season. ca. 1925
In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, we would like to share just some of the remarkable pieces of Native American history of tribes in southern California and Arizona. All of these records come from our holdings of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (RG 75).