Trekked across the city for a visit to H Street NE yesterday to see two veteran Washington reporters — NPR's Ron Elving and David Rapp — team up to discuss Rapp’s new book, “Tinker to Evers to Chance, The Chicago Cubs and the Dawn of America.”
Their conversation at Solid State Books was non-sabermetric, but the fun and romance of baseball was lively.
At one point, Rapp talked about the initial popularity of “Merry Widow hats” during the 1908 season, a sort of “Ladies Day” promotion that infuriated anyone seating behind the stylish but oversized piece of fashion.
Elving asked good questions, although I was disappointed the subject of baseball’s explosion in attendance did not come up.
The Giants attendance lept from 538,350 to 910,000, a figure they did not reach again until 1920. The Cubs had a similar jump, going from 422,550 to 665,325. They did not top that figure until 1923. The aggregate for both leagues paralleled that pattern.
As someone who has read a handful of books on the 1908 season, I strutted in with broad shoulders. But then Rapp stumped me and perhaps everyone in the audience. Who was the Cubs third base man?
Solid State is located a few doors down from the corner of 7th and H. Their landing serves as some kind of cherry for the total transformation of this strip of the district that has come a long way. All the mixed use places please resident and visitor alike, but there is something about a "third place" that can make a neighborhood a special place.
Just how far this part of DC has come still has a visible reminder. As I approached their store, I spotted a remarkable site a few doors down. On the corner, Rock Creek Properties is putting up "7H," a 23-unit luxury condo project. They will incorporate the facade of the old building into the new one.
Now that’s what we call a great double play.