Thank you Robb Nen. Your 206 saves and gutsy performance in 2002 will go down in Giants history as top notch. I can still see that last batter striking out. Giants Win!!
Good luck in your retirement and thanks for everything.
Note: I have widened my lens to allow for oral histories from fans of teams other than Giants.
Mark R. McCallum is a 44-year-old content producer and recently retired infielder (SS-2B) living in Covington, Ga.
How did you become a baseball fan?
On a spring trip to NYC in 1970, mom dragged my sister and I to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes dance. Being 10, I had not yet developed an affinity for leggy ladies so I was mesmerized more by a short film shown before the performance. It profiled the Amazin' Mets. I saw replays of great catches set to dramatic music, watched big hits, heard thrilling narration. That's when, with a tip of the cap to Jim Bouton, I began gripping a baseball while it was gripping me. Although I don't recall rushing to the ballpark, I do know it was the first summer I began buying baseball magazines, collecting baseball cards and playing Little League. Still have the Street&Smith's Yearbooks and various scrapbooks to prove it.
How/when did you become a fan of your team(s)?
Although Dad always taught me to pull for the home team (Senators, 1970-72; Braves, 1973-present), my appetite for baseball history spun me toward the Red Sox and Brooklyn Dodgers in 1970. I guess coming up short year after year but still battling appealed to me. It just seemed so noble. And Yaz, Reggie Smith, Rico Petrocelli, Wes Parker, Willie Davis et al captured my imagination. (While I was too young to realize that the Hollywood Dodgers weren't Brooklyn, I still pulled for them unless they played Atlanta. But I pulled the Red Sox even when they played the Nats.) Consider it like this -- the Red Sox were my out-of-town girlfriend, but the Braves and Nats were my buds. The girlfriend always trumped all.
Are any members of your family baseball fans?
More by osmosis with the Braves. My dad watches all the games but never talks much about it. If he can find a sport of TV he'll watch. Got tickled when he called one night to say he had just watched Nolan Ryan's no-hitter replayed on ESPN Classic. Said he couldn't believe he watched the whole thing knowing what was going to happen. My mom sits with him and absorbs it, surprising me with her knowledge of what's going on while never seeming to pay any attention. For example, one afternoon we were in the emergency waiting room, checking on a friend, when in strolls Braves catcher Bruce Benedict. Mom sprang out of her seat, walked over and started talking to him like he's an old friend. He graciously chatted with her when she realized he has no idea who she is. I still remember her saying, "I'm sorry. We watch you every night on TV and I just considered you family."
But everybody in my family, including my sister, brings up baseball year round.
How was/is baseball a part of your life?
When I was younger I was obsessed with the game. I recall a few seasons when I saw or listened to every inning the Braves played, kept my homemade score sheets for every game I watched, listened to, or attended. While my passion has waned considerably since then, I still have friends who only call me between innings and nobody who knows me ever calls once a post-season game has started.
What does the game mean to you and why?
Baseball's that great constant. It's there every night. And even when I'm angry at the game, I still keep an eye on her. She's like an old friend, one that shows you something ever year that you've never seen or knew before. But the 1994 strike, the gripes about money, the talk of steroids has really soured me.
How did/do you experience the Red Sox/Senators/Braves – games, radio, TV, Internet?
All, including print. (and memory)
Who are your favorite players?
Clemente, Yaz, Koufax, Ted Williams. Current players: Schilling, Smoltz
Who are you favorite announcers?
Ernie Harwell, Harry Caray, Jack Buck. Don't mind Pete Van Wieren with Atlanta since I listen to them more than any but he doesn't get as excited about things as Ernie Johnson used to. Ernie's home run calls were so much fun because he always described them like he couldn't believe it just happened.
2004 for the obvious conclusion; 1971 -- Really the first year I was head-over-heels for the game and Clemente put on such a tremendous World Series performance, the memorable All-Star game in Detroit.
Do you have a “I’ll never forget moment/game?”
Watching Fisk's homer in 1975 and waking up the entire house with my joyous outburst. Attending Aaron's 715th and being ticked that he hit in the first game because we had tickets for the entire four-game series, which we wouldn't attend if he'd already hit it. The Braves taking the 1982 West. Nothing better than a town in love with a team. Complete strangers were friends cuz they wore a Braves cap or shirt. Clemente's death announced on the morning radio report.
Do you have any “It will never be the same” feelings?
All the time. While I don't think it's the same I know every generation feels the same. We all think it was better in the old days, but it's wasn't. We were more innocent and didn't pay attention to the money grabbing, the drug use. Our heroes were playing for the love of the game. Was it 1915 when the players' threatened to strike in the World Series over bigger gate receipts. The same stays constant. We've changed.
Pick any or all of the 2004 Red Sox post-season, 1971 World Series, 1975 Game 6.
Athletics beat the Senators in 21 innings (first time ever got to stay up well past my bedtime. Heard one fan say he had to leave cuz his wife would never believe he had spent that long at the ballpark. My dad, despite the hour, never hinted we were going home before it ended -- much to my delight. Senators lost in 21st thanks to Bert Campaneris and Jim Shellingback, who gave up the hit, stolen base, error and wild pitch in memory serves.
Biggest thrill? Got to be seeing the Red Sox win it all.
Favorite sections to watch the games? Prefer the bleachers. Love seeing the same faces and feeling that the action is coming toward me.
Do you have an All-Time Senators Team?
P Dick Bosman, Casey Cox
C Paul Casanova
1B Don Minchner
2B Lenny Randle
SS Toby Harrah
3B Davey Nelson
OF Frank Howard, Del Unser, Larry Biittner
Do you have an All-Time Red Sox Team?
P Curt Schilling, Bill Lee, Sonny Siebert
C Fisk, Varitek
1B George Scott
2B Doug Griffin
SS Rick Burleson, Luis Aparicio
3B Rico Petrocelli
OF Ted Williams, Yaz, Fred Lynn, Dwight Evans
Do you have an All-Time Braves Team?
P Phil Niekro, Buzz Capra, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz
C Johnny Oates
1B Chris Chambliss
2B Glenn Hubbard
SS Rafael Bellliard
3B Clete Boyer
OF Aaron, Dusty Baker, Dale Murphy, Claudell Washington
Do you have an All-Time Team?
P Sandy Koufax, Wilbur Wood, Mark Fidrych
2B Sandberg, Joe Morgan
SS Ozzie Smith
3B Brooks Robinson, George Brett
OF Ted Williams, Roberto Clemente, Tony Gwynn
Do you play Fantasy/Rotisserie Baseball?
Not anymore. Quit in 1984 when realized I cared more about my fake team than the real one. When you want the despised Mario Soto to throw a shutout against the Braves, you've got a problem.
What qualities of the Red Sox/Senators appeal to you?
Don't feel this way much but it's always been that it matters as much to them as it does to us. Kinda felt the Red Sox this year knew that. Don't feel the Braves, other than Smoltz, realize how the fans feel.
Are you more of a fan now or before?
Definitely less. Why should I care more than they do. Recall being totally ticked that Javier Lopez said he had a bad season because he was trying too hard in the final year of his contract. Duh? Doesn't he understand you're supposed to give full effort EVERY season? It's that attitude that sours me. And then you hear tales of Tony Gwynn showing up at 6 a.m. at the batting cages, you watch Dwight Evans taking fly balls before batting practice despite all the Gold Gloves he already owns, you watch Charles Thomas busting his butt on a dribbler down the line and you remember why you love it so much.
“Any oft-told stories?
First autograph I ever got was Ron Hansen of the Yankees. Remember going down and asking for it. He was very polite and signed. But the thing I remember most is he wasn't a Greek God. Ballplayers looked like regular people.
Giants pitcher Bill Voiselle passed away last Monday. He was 86.
Voiselle came up with the Giants in 1942. 1944 was his big year. He won 21 of New York’s 67 games. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, he was the Giants only 20-game winner in a period from 1937 (Carl Hubbell) to 1947 (Larry Jensen).
Maxwell Kates (SABR-L) had this note about Voiselle.
At the time of his retirement in 1950, Bill Voiselle did wear the highest uniform number in major league history. As was discussed, he wore number 96 as a tribute to his hometown in South Carolina. However, it was not the highest uniform number in baseball history. Yankees outfielder Charlie Keller wore number 99 in one of two games he played in 1952. A quarter century later, in 1977, Willie Crawford donned number 99 as an outfielder for the Oakland A's. Others to wear number 99 on a major league diamond included Mitch Williams and Turk Wendell.
"The mere act of going to a baseball game, the anticipation, can lift the spirit because one is approaching a beginning, a new day, a new game, and beginnings can be exciting." - William Gildea, Washington Post, July 3, 1985
On Tuesday, September 20, the San Francisco Giants are scheduled to play the Washington Nationals at RFK Stadium. To most fans, it’s an obvious fact this contest will mark the first time the San Francisco Giants have played in the nation’s capital. There is, however a history of the franchise’s play in Washington, as well as accomplishments there by individual Giants players. Here then, is a look at that history.
Fielding a team put together partly from a D.C. outfit that won the Eastern League pennant the year before, Washington made its National League debut in 1886. The newspapers called the team the Nationals, a tag used by some previous capital ball clubs and one that went back to a pioneering Washington amateur nine that won 9 of 10 games on a barnstorming tour of the west in 1867.
Washingtonians got their first look at the Giants on the afternoon of July 14. A crowd of about 1500 fans gathered at Capitol Park (aka Swampoodle Grounds). The shanty ballpark was located a few blocks from the Capitol on land that is now under the western portion of Union Station.
New York was a bundle of talent who had won more than three-fourth of their games in 1885. Six of their players were destined for the Hall of Fame. Their ace pitcher, Mickey Welch, was coming off a 44-win season and had collected 177 victories in his first six campaigns. The Gotham Nine also sported a potent offense. In the first inning, the big fellow playing first base, Roger Connor, tripled home Jim O’Rourke. New York scored three more in the inning. Welch and the slick-fielding Giants held the home team to two plate crossings and won easily 7-2.
The “New-Yorks,” as they were alternately known in the press, won all three games and took both series when they returned to D.C. later in the season. They made trips to Washington for the next three years and pretty much had their way. In the four seasons, the Giants won 49 of 69 games against the Nationals. Washington picked up a new name in 1888, but “Senators” provided little help in the win column.
One particular noteworthy event for the Giants during this time came on a trip to D.C. in August of 1888. Each member of the team met and shook hands with President Grover Cleveland. New York won 7-0 on their way to their first pennant and post-season championship. The following season, the Giants repeated as World’s Series champs.
The National League proved to be too much for Washington, who finished in last place 3 of the 4 seasons. After the National League magnates eliminated the Nationals franchise at the end of the 1889 season, Washington reemerged in the League in 1892. When New York returned to D.C., fans saw a Giants team on the downside. Their star players had moved on to other teams or were at the end of their careers. If there was a treat, it might have been seeing the blazing fastballs of Amos Rusie. The “Hoosier Thunderbolt” had emerged as one of the game’s great strikeout kings.
Washington’s second run in “the league” lasted eight seasons. At the end of the 1899 season, the National League owners contracted Washington, Baltimore, Cleveland and Louisville. Two years later, Washington joined the American League. While manager John McGraw built a dynasty in New York, the Senators, for the most part, struggled.
In 1924, the Giants held off a strong finish by the Dodgers while the Senators (Nationals) nipped Ruth and the Yankees for the pennant. In what many at the time considered the most exciting World Series ever, the Senators and the Giants decided the Fall Classic in Game Seven at Griffith Stadium. Pitching with one day of rest, Walter Johnson held the Giants scoreless in the final four innings of the 12 frame contest. The Senators won the big prize in the bottom of the 12th. As the nation’s capital went hog-wild, Giants’ pitcher Jack Bentley consoled some of his teammates that evening. "Cheer up boys, it just looks as though the good Lord couldn't stand seeing Walter Johnson get beat again."
The two teams met again in the 1933 Fall Classic. The Giants’ clincher came in Game Five played at Griffith Stadium whose land below now is occupied by Howard University Hospital. In the top of the tenth, with the game tied at 3, Mel Ott’s two-out, solo home run was the series winner.
Four years later, Griffith Stadium hosted the fifth All-Star game. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared on the cover of the official program, tossed out the ceremonial first pitch and became the first President to attend a mid-summer classic. Bill Terry managed and six Giants players saw action in an 8-3 loss to the host American League.
In the 1950s, Giants and Senators followers began to wonder about the future of their teams. Attendance was slipping as fans in the suburbs were staying home to watch T.V. Tube-viewers for the All-Star game at Griffith Stadium in 1956 saw Say Hey Willie Mays hit a two-run home run in the fourth to give the senior circuit a 3-0 lead. Giants’ ace Johnny Antonelli shut down the A.L. in the last four innings. The N.L. won 7-3.
In the spring of 1962, D.C. Stadium opened its gates to baseball. During its brief baseball run from 1962 to 1971, the concrete park, renamed RFK Stadium for the 1969 season, hosted the All-Star game twice. When he steps inside the refurbished, doughnut-shaped stadium this September, Giants’ skipper Felipe Alou will recall the 1962 contest. Playing in his first All-Star game, Alou saw action alongside teammates Mays, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda and Jim Davenport.
History records that D.C. native Maury Wills stole the show in the eighth. He got help from two Giants. In front of a sold out crowd of 45,480, Davenport singled Wills to second. Cannon-armed left fielder Rocky Colavito threw to second in an attempt to nail Wills. The speedster then raced to third and beat Bobby Richardson’s throw. Alou then flyed out to Leon Wagner in medium right field. Wills sped home and scored the senior circuit’s third run.
Mays showcased his defensive talents in the sixth and ninth inning. With the National League leading 2 to 0 in the bottom of the sixth, the American League put runners on first and third with no out. Roger Maris creamed one to deep center field. Mays ran back to the fence and snared the liner. The AL scored one in the inning but the damage could have been worse.
In the bottom of the ninth, with the score 3 to 1, the A.L. had Jim Gentile on second and Johnny Romano on first with two outs. Light-hitting Luis Aparicio almost burned Mays, who was playing a shallow center. But the great one raced back and caught the final out. Marichal pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth inning and picked up the win.
Seven summers later, RFK Stadium hosted the 40th All-Star game. The absence of Marichal (selected but did not play) and just one plate appearance by Mays brought disappointment to any fans of the orange and black in attendance. That tall fellow at first base, however, sure did put on a show. In the middle of his greatest season, Willie McCovey ignited a five-run uprising with a two-run homer in the third. A capacity crowd of 45,259 at RFK then watched number 44 clout a second circuit shot an inning later. The National League took the honors for the eighth consecutive time with a 9-3 victory.
After owner Bob Short took the Senators Mark II to Texas at the end of the 1971 season, RFK served up an occasional exhibition game. In August 1972, 32,432 watched Willie Mays and the New York Mets take on Carl Yastrzemski and the Boston Red Sox. In the game won by the Mets, Mays made a great back-to-the-plate catch that reminded fans of his famous theft of Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series.
In the summer of 1982, starving baseball fans in Washington were treated to the first Cracker Jack Old-Timers Classic. The brainchild of Dick Cecil, the games pitted retired stars and players from the National League versus their American League counterparts. Ex-Senator Frank Howard was a huge crowd favorite but the locals loved seeing Mays too. For the game in 1983, Mays arrived late and decided not to play after being told he wasn’t in the starting line-up. Many in the crowd of 31,160, not knowing he had left, shouted, “We want Willie! “We Want Willie”!
The Old Timers Classics had a six-year run in D.C. Giants who saw action included Bobby Thomson, Bill Rigney, Hoyt Wilhelm, Mays, Marichal, McCovey, Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, Ed Bailey and Tom Haller. The purpose of these games was to help raise money for the Association of Professional Ball Players of America and to provide a venue of fun and nostalgia for the players and fans. The contests also, however, pointed to the fact that Washington was still without major league baseball. Expansion was the likely avenue although Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the Redskins, announced in May 1985 that he wanted to buy the Giants.
Nothing ever came of that idea or the expansion route. Finally, in 2002, D.C.’s campaign for a team regained momentum when Commissioner Bud Selig announced that Washington was the prime candidate for relocating the Montreal Expos. Late last summer, MLB awarded the District with the transfer of the Expos’ franchise.
The main reason was that the D.C. City Council showed the Lords of Baseball the money. Also playing a role, perhaps, was the city’s deep baseball roots. Part of that history includes the Giants, who are set to play in the nation’s capital once again.
Washington Post via ProQuest
The Ball Clubs, Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella
Total Baseball VIII
The Great Encyclopedia of 19th Century Major League Baseball. David Nemec.
The Washington Nationals and the Development of America's National Pastime, Frank Ceresi and Carol McMains
Last November, the Washington Nationals began selling team merchandise. Opinions vary, but for the most part, it seems the designers came up with some decent-looking gear.
There is, however, one strange item that conjures up images of Donald Trump pointing to the MLB marketing executive and saying, “You’re fired.”
The item is a variation of the team emblem. It's also a patch sewn on the Nats’ home jersey. On top of the logo, it says Washington Nationals. Below, the tag line reads, “Established 1905.”
The date is confusing to say the least. The Expos-Nationals franchise was established in 1969. The Senators/Nationals franchise was established in 1901. So where did they get 1905 from?
According to the Hall of Fame website, the 1905 Nationals were the first team to wear their nickname on their uniform. I spoke with Marc Okkonen whose massive research is the definitive work on the subject of uniforms. He confirmed the Nationals were the first team to do so.
Ok, so the Nationals pioneered the nickname across the chest. But from 1901 to 1904, the team was known as Senators. How exactly did the name change come about?
New Name For Club
“The Senators” Has Been a Veritable Hoodoo
Fans Asked to Suggest Title
Those were the sports headlines at The Washington Post on the morning of February 3, 1905. Team owner Thomas C. Noyes, it seems, wasn’t happy with the team’s record as Senators. The club’s Board of Directors appointed the sports editors of the three Washington newspapers as a committee to head up the selection process for a new name.
The suggestions poured in. Among them were Admirals, Big Sticks, Defenders, Empires, Olympias, Pensioners and Presidents. The final tally numbered 3,000 with 1,185 different names suggested.
On March 26, the Post announced the winner.
Washington Team Rechristened “The Nationals”
The exact number of votes was not given but the article said Nationals “had the strongest following.” The Post published several comments from the letters.
“The name I suggest for the Washington baseball club is the Nationals. The only team that ever won a pennant for Washington was called the Nationals. It would indicate that they represent the National Capital.”
The first great club that Washington had was named Nationals. This club was one of the pioneers of baseball, and was successful; so call the club the Nationals…”
In the years to follow, the Washington Post referred to the team as Nationals or Nats, a convenient abbreviation for the editors. Some other newspapers still used Senators. And as Howard Pollack notes (SABR-L), “both were used interchangeably and, technically, the latter (Nationals) was correct.”
Nationals lasted until another team owner wanted a change. In 1956, Calvin Griffith decided he didn’t like the name. On October 31, “Bob Addie’s Column” in the Post announced that Griffith decided to change the name to Senators.
"Calvin’s reasons for the change are curious. The name ‘Nationals,’ Calvin says, has a connotation of belonging to the Nation. He wants the Senators to belong to the city of Washington.”
The Senators did belong to Washington until the end of the 1971 season. Then last September, after MLB awarded Washington with the Expos franchise, discussion began on what the new nickname should be. Senators got some nostalgic support. D.C. mayor Anthony Williams, however, did not like the name.
"I've articulated that I do not support Senators as a name. I believe that is the wrong name," Mr. Williams said, citing the District's lack of voting representation in Congress. "I think [MLB] listened. They understand my position."
MLB collected their own data. A Washington Times article noted that “Industry sources said Nationals is a near lock to overtake Senators and Grays after a whirlwind, closed-door evaluation that involved focus groups, marketing executives and polling data.”
So once again, the team in Washington will sport Nationals across their chests. It’s a nickname the fans in the nation’s capital wanted and got 100 years ago.