The annual Congressional Baseball Game, while a lovely fundraiser for charity, can’t quite give those of us in Washington the frisson of excitement that a big league playoff run does. The first postseason Nationals game kicks off in about an hour, and it’s been ALL OVER the news. It was from the Washington Post that we first learned about this gem of a find at the Library of Congress. Mike Mashon, head of the Moving Image Section at the Library, tells the whole story in this post, but here’s the short version: when the Library recently acquired some long-forgotten newsreels, staffers were surprised to see footage from the Senators’ 1924 World Series win–the only known footage of the series and its final 12-inning game. As the Nationals romped through the end of the 2014 season, the moving image staff expedited conservation of the film and recently made the digital transfer available online.
As we delved into further research (we are historians, after all), we discovered this piece by David Pietrusza about Grace Coolidge, the First Lady who appears in that footage from the 1924 win, and her love of the game. She attended many games in Griffith Stadium during Calvin Coolidge’s tenure as president and listened to radio broadcasts when she wasn’t attending in person. (By the way, if anyone knows who the man with the glasses on the right of the first couple in the old footage is, please let us know!)
Calvin Coolidge welcomed the team on October 1, after they clinched the American League title. He began, “As the head of an enterprise which transacts some business and maintains a considerable staff in this town, I have a double satisfaction in welcoming home the victorious Washington Baseball Team. First, you bring the laurels from one of the hardest fought contests in all the history of the national game. Second, I feel hopeful that with this happy result now assured it will be possible for the people of Washington gradually to resume interest in the ordinary concerns of life. So long as we could be satisfied with a prompt report of the score by innings, a reasonable attention to business was still possible. But when the entire population reached the point of requiring the game to be described play by play, I began to doubt whether the highest efficiency was being promoted. I contemplated action of a vigorously disciplinary character, but the out come makes it impossible. As a result we are a somewhat demoralized community but exceedingly happy over it.” (Full text here.)
And just for fun, thanks to Popville for bringing to our attention this picture of the dinosaur outside the National Geographic Museum in downtown DC.