Today is the third and final part of Bill Wagner's Washington Ballparks. These three are the more familiar RFK Stadium and Griffith Stadium, and the lesser known American League Park.
As a concluding thought, I'll add that if you've been confused about the number of ballparks and their names, join the club. I thought I knew a little about this subject. But if that is the case, why is my copy of Green Cathedrals so worn out?
American League Park: Trinidad, Florida Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE.
With Washington joining the upstart and rival American League in 1901 and the National League still holding the lease on National Park, the Senators club built a park on land leased from the Washington Brick Machine Company. Again, as with most of the early parks in Washington, it was a small ballpark, this one with a single-deck, wooden grandstand and simple bleachers extending down the line to just past the infield. Nothing fancy. Nothing ornate. Just functional. It lasted until the end of the 1903 season, when a peace agreement between the two leagues allowed the Senators to move back to the National Park site, hauling much of American League Park's lumber with them for supplies.
National Park and Griffith Stadium. Florida and 7th Street NE.
This is the legendary field of Washington--so far. Here it was that Washington had its first major league team that finished with a winning record (1912), all the rest from 1871 to 1911 having posted losing records. Here it was also that the Senators won their only World Series in 1924 and competed for a second in 1933. And it was here that the first true classic-era ballpark in Washington developed. This took some time, however, for at first what became Griffith Stadium in 1920 was much like the rest of Washington's early ballparks, a single-decked wooden grandstand and open wooden bleachers, seating, all told, 10,000. A fire in the spring of 1911 leveled that structure, and new, larger concrete and steel structure replaced it. The new park boasted a double-decked grandstand and a large concrete open bleacher in left and a 30-foot wall in right. Most of the changes developed over the next decade; a second deck, higher that that of the grandstand, was added to the stands beyond first and third. On average it sat about 25,000, though 34,000 jammed in for the 1924 Series. The Senators remained here until 1960, when the Griffiths moved them to Minnesota. Washington wasn't out of the league long, however, receiving an expansion team for 1961. Griffith was used for one more season, then sat empty until it was demolished in 1965 and the land purchased by Howard University Hospital.
Washington Sports Stadium or Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. 22nd, Independence Avenue, E Capitol Street and C Street NE.
While Washington's new club was playing the final year at Griffith, the city was constructing one of the early multi-purpose stadium ballparks. Opened in 1962 and seating between 45 and 50,000, totally enclosed and of two-decks (though there was now lower deck in the outfield) topped with a distinctive wavy roof line, RFK hosted the Senators from 1961 to 1971 and the Nationals from 2004 to 2007.
And now the journey has reached Nationals Park.