Jun 14

The Washington – New York Connection

With the high flying Nationals returning home to host the New York Yankees it is fitting to address the unique history that exists between New York and Washington.


In 1903 Ban Johnson was able to finally put an American League franchise in New York. The Baltimore Orioles are renamed the New York Highlanders and the stage was set for one of the most successful sports franchises ever to exist.

In 1903 New York’s first game major league game is on 22 April in Washington, it is a 3-1 loss to the Senators.

22 April         New York 1     Washington 3

The opening day parade started at the Ebbitt House where Clark Griffith and his team are quartered. Carriages drawn by gaily caparisoned steeds, containing Tom Loftus and Walter Hewitt, headed the procession. Next in line came the Washington players, bedecked in their spick and span new uniforms, white with blue trimmings. Then came the New York team, and last the club’s directors.”

Headed by Haley’s band the procession, which moved sharply out at 2PM the last part of the route followed the Columbia car line. The players received a warm reception. Gene Corcoran was the master of ceremonies. Commissioner West, occupying a box with Major Sylvester, Superintendent of Police, threw out the first pitch.

The crowd was estimated at 10,000 but many impatient ones climbed over the rail at the side of the gates and made their way hurriedly to points of vantage in the stand, bleachers, and field. An unbroken fringe of rooters extended from the right bleachers, encircling the entire field, and ending at the extreme end of the left field stand. A ground rule was established that any ball hit into the crowd but would a double.

The game was fast and well played on both sides. Both teams were credited with two errors, “but the chill bleak wind which swept across the field chilled the players to the marrow, and it is a wonder that more fumbles and dropped balls did not occur.”

Griffith’s team is considered lightning fact. Herman Long, the little Dutchman, was all over the field and the error made by him said to be excusable. Chesbro had an off day, his opening inning was fraught with three bases on balls but no one scored.[1]

Al Orth, Ed Delehanty, and Midget Robinson were the stars of the game for Washington. Orth pitched a superb game, was cool and steady at critical moments. Robinson proved a bulwark of strength at short, covered a vast amount of ground and the two errors marked against him were the result of wild throws, one of which sent Long around to second. Fortunately, neither of the throws resulted in runs. Delehanty, laboring under a ton of flesh, made his first appearance and got in his trusty hit, a slashing single to left, scoring Robinson.[2]

The big news for District baseball rooters is not the start of the baseball season but Ed Delehanty and the announcement he will play for Washington.

Ed Delehanty to remain with Washington.[3]

“President Ban Johnson, of the American League, called at the National League headquarters yesterday and left a check for $4,000 there for President Harry Pulliam, to satisfy the claim which the New York National League Club had on Ed Delehanty. Mr. Johnson when seen last night, said that Delehanty is not free and clear to play for Washington and no matter how tempting offers may be he will stay in Washington. This puts Ducky Homes on the bench.

Moran is still nursing the injury to his leg suffered in the last Georgetown game and will not play on opening day, Robinson will take his place.

The New York Highlanders play their first home game on 30 April, the visiting team, the Washington Senators.

30 April           Washington 2                          New York 6

Washington is in New York for the Highlander’s home opener. The Washington and New York teams opened the American League season in Gotham, and the Invaders made their debut before the public of the metropolis by defeating the Senators by a score of 6 to 2 in a dull, listless game.[4]

The description of the opening ceremonies is rather bleak. “The opening ceremonies were simple. A parade of the two teams about the city was the only one worthy of mention. No mayor was present to throw the first ball out on the field, nor was the aldermanic body conspicuous by its presence. The stands are incomplete and the outer garden in bad condition. In view of this latter fact, the worst part of the field was roped off, and a ground rule counted for two bases, many of which have easily have easily been outs with the rounds in good shape.”

Happy Townsend was wild, and his bases on balls, were in most instances, followed by base hits, while Jack Chesbro proved a puzzle to the Washingtonians. Umpires Connolly, Caruthers. Time 1:30.”[5]

“Washington Team in Dire Need of Players.” Charley Moran is crippled, and may miss six weeks. This forces the team to put Gene DeMontreville, with is strained tendon back into the game. The outfield is intact which is the lone bright spot. Only Al Orth and Case Patten have been effective on the rubber.

There is another connection.


29 September, the New York Metropolitans[6] host the Washington Nationals at the hastily converted Polo Grounds, the first professional baseball game[7] ever played on Manhattan Island.[8]

The Nationals played the newly organized Metropolitans, of New York City, upon the new grounds of the Polo Club. The number in attendance was estimated at three thousand. In consequence of the Nationals not getting to the rounds in time, only five innings were played, the New Yorkers winning by a score of 4 to 2. Jack Lynch pitched in splendid style, only three hits being made off him. Smiley, late of the Rochesters, played second base in place of Joe Gerhardt, who, for reasons known only to himself, did not accompany the nine. The fielding was a little loose, Smiley excelling in errors.[9]

[1] New York Line-up, Davis-Lf, Keeler-Rf, Fultz-Cf, Williams-2b, Ganzel-1b, Conroy-SS, Long-SS, O’Connor-C, Chesbro-P

[2] Line-up, Robinson-SS, Selbach-Rf, Delehanty-Lf, Ryan-Cf, Carey-1b, Coughlin-3b, Demontreville-2b, Clarke-C, Orth-P

[3] Until now Delehanty had been in a melancholy mood.

[4] AP Game write-up in Sporting Life. American League Park, the new playing grounds of the Greater New York Cub, was opened with a game between the new local team and the Washingtons. The 16,000 persons present were well satisfied when Clark Griffith’s new aggregation defeated the visitors by the score of 6 to 2. Owing to the unfinished condition of the outfield, ground rules were put in force.

[5] Line-up, Robinson-SS, Selbach-Rf, Delehanty-Lf, Ryan-Cf, Carey-1b, Coughlin-3b, DeMontrville-2b, Drill-C, Townsend-P

[6] The Mets would in time become the New York Giants

[7] James Mutrie SABR Biography by Peter Mancuso. On September 29, the Polo Grounds were finally ready for baseball. The Metropolitans and the Nationals of Washington played the first professional baseball game in New York City proper (i.e., Manhattan, since Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island all consisted of unaffiliated cities and towns then). Typical of the era, the visiting club arrived late. The Metropolitans elected to bat in the top of the inning. After five innings of play the Mets led by a score of 4 to 2. In the top of the sixth inning, the Mets scored four more runs with darkness approaching. In the bottom of the sixth, the Nationals were able to push one more run across the plate before Umpire Daily called the game because of darkness, with one out and the score Mets 8, Nationals 3. However, because six full innings were unable to be completed, the official final score reverted back to the 4 to 2 Metropolitan lead that existed at the end of the fifth inning. New York Herald, September 30, 1880, p. 5

[8] Hugh Daily spun a six-inning four hitter over Jack Lynch winning 8-3 in front of 2,500 baseball-mad citizens. Daily’s single in the fifth inning snapped the tie and became the game-winning hit. Behind Daily. Hugh Daily, by Frank Vaccaro.