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Jan 31

Washington D.C. Baseball History – Spring Training

Next month I will be going down to Viera, Florida to watch the Washington Nationals play a few exhibition games. This will be the sixth consecutive year I have traveled to Viera for the Nats’ spring training. On the most part the weather has been very nice in Viera during our visits. I don’t think that has always been the case for the Washington baseball teams during spring training.

Did you know 111 years ago if you were going to spring training to catch the newly formed Washington Senators of the newly formed American League you would find yourself in Phoebus, Virginia? It wasn’t until 1907 the Senators went outside of the D.C. and Virginia area as they traveled to Galveston, Texas for spring training. The team stayed in the warm climate of Galveston for three spring trainings.

From 1910 to 1919 the Senators moved their spring training camp five times as they went from towns in Virginia to towns in Georgia and back and forth. In 1920 the Senators moved their camp to the sunshine state for the first time when they held camp at Tampa, FL. The team stayed in Tampa until 1929.

From 1930 to 1935 the team held camp in Biloxi, MS., then the team made the move back to Florida and made Orlando their spring training home for the next seven seasons. While in Orlando the Washington Senators’ played their home games at Tinker Field. In 1943 the Senators moved spring training back north to College Park, MD., until the spring of 1945. After the end of WWII the Senators made Tinker Field and the city of Orlando their spring training home until 1960. After the 1960 season the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Minnesota Twins.

In 1961 the Nation’s Capital was given an expansion franchise which was also named the Washington Senators. The expansion Senators held spring training camp at Pompano Beach, Fl., for their entire time they were the Washington Senators; 1961-1971.

In 2005 the newest major league baseball team in the nation’s capital the Washington Nationals, made their spring training home in Viera, Fl. and the team plays their spring training home games at the Space Coast Stadium. The question now is how much longer will the Nats’ stay in Viera? There has been a lot of talk about the team moving closer to central Florida or to the Gulf Coast of Florida. I personally hope they stay in Viera but I will go where ever they set up camp.

Phoebus, Va. (1901); Washington, D.C. (1902-1904); Hampton, Va. (1905); Charlottesville, Va. (1906); Galveston, Texas (1907); Norfolk, Va. (1910); Atlanta (1911); Charlottesville, Ga. (1912-1916); Atlanta (1917); Augusta, Ga. (1918-1919); Tampa (1920-1929); Biloxi, Miss. (1930-1935); Orlando (1936-1942); College Park, Md. (1943-1945); Orlando (1946-1960); Pompano Beach (1961-1971) and Viera (2005 -___).

  • Terry

    Why Viera? Was it the Expos ST spot?

  • Mark Hornbaker

    Yes, the Expos were in Viera 2003-2004.

    The Montreal Expos held spring training in the following locations: West Palm Beach (1968-1972); Daytona Beach (1973-1980); West Palm Beach (1981-1997); Jupiter (1998-2002); Viera (2003-2004).

  • Leo Schumacher

    I have old slides of an exhibition game played at tinker field between the senators and phila. athletic where Connie Mack and Calvin Griffith are receiving some kind of a award. looks to be around 1946-49. Any help that I can receive would be helpful.

  • Debbie Ritter

    I have joined here in the hopes you can give me some information about the Mercury baseball club in Washington, DC. My grandfather and uncle played for them in 1912-1916. I have never been able to find any info on the team and I was hoping you could help me. Thank you in advance