F.P. Santangelo isn't afraid of jinxes, luckily he avoided one this afternoon when he mixed and matched some important dates in D.C. baseball history. MASN Washington Nationals' tv analyst took to the Twitter machine this afternoon (@fightinhydrant) to note that the Nats, if they were to clinch the NL East tonight in St. Louis (with a win and an Atlanta Braves' loss necessary for it to happen), would be doing so 79 years to the day after the Washington Senators won the last division crown claimed by a team from the nation's capital in 1933:
The 26-year-old Cronin was in his first year as a Player/Manager that year, having taken over on the bench for the Senators after four seasons under the guidance of Walter Johnson, who'd become the manager two years after retiring following a 21-year major league career that stretched from 1907-1927. The '33 Senators were led on the mound by the power 1-2 punch of 34-year-old right-hander General Crowder (24-15, 3.97 ERA) and 34-year-old lefty Earl Whitehill (22-8), whose name came up recently when Gio Gonzalez became the first left-hander from D.C. to win 20 games since Whitehill had in the 1933 campaign. At the plate, the Senators were a deep offensive team with 1B Joe Kuhel (.322/.385/.467), Cronin (.309/.398/.445), Heinie Manush (.336/.372/.459) and Goose Goslin (.297/.348/.452) leading the way with the lumber.
The 1933 Senators had five starters with double-digit wins that season with 32-year-old Lefty Stewart (15-6, 3.82 ERA), 27-year-old Monte Stewart (10-5, 3.25 ERA) and 27-year-old reliever Jack Russell (12-5, 2.69 ERA), who made three starts and 50 appearances overall that season, joining Crowder and Whitehill with double digit Ws. The Senators who finished the '33 season with a 17-9 September to end up 99-53 overall, went to the World Series and lost in five games to the New York Giants in the last postseason appearance by a D.C.-based team before this year's Nationals.
The '33 Senators didn't clinch on September 29, however, as nice as that would be for the sake of narrative, parallels, etc. The '33 Senators clinched the American League on September 21, 1933 (it says so on this baseball) with their 97th win of the season over the Rogers Hornsby-managed St. Louis Browns at home in Washington, D.C.'s Griffith Stadium. According to a Washington Post article quoted in a recent ABC News/AP article by Frederic J. Frommer on the Nats making baseball history by bringing postseason baseball back ot the the nation's capital, the '33 Senators' manager, Joe Cronin, had to escape the D.C. faithful of the time following the pennant-clinching win:
After the Senators clinched the 1933 pennant, Cronin was "besieged in the clubhouse by a hero-worshiping throng of thousands of fans of both sexes gone mildly mad," according to a Sept. 22, 1933, Washington Post story. He slipped out of the clubhouse onto the field, where "shrieking women" ran after him, and the young player-manager had to sprint to escape them, the Post reported.
69-year-old Nats' skipper Davey Johnson won't likely have to escape the adoring throngs of Nationals fans in St. Louis if Washington does manage to clinch its first pennant for D.C. since the '33 Senators beat the St. Louis-based franchise that would eventually in 1954 become the Baltimore Orioles. If the Nationals do clinch tonight it won't be on the anniversary of the '33 Senators clinching the last pennant by a team from Washington, but it would be 88 years to the day of the first-ever pennant clinched by a D.C.-based team, the 1924 Senators, who provided the nation's capital with its one and only World Series championship that year.
The '24 Senators were led by manager Bucky Harris and a then-36-year-old ace Walter "The Big Train" Johnson, George Mogridge and Tom Zachary on the mound, but it was Fred [Firpo] Marberry who was the hero of the Sens' first pennant-clincher as a Washington Post article at the time reported:
""Fred [Firpo] Marberry, relief pitcher of the Nats who held the Red Sox scoreless for the last six innings today, was the hero of this deciding game. He has acted as relief pitcher in all three games played here in this series and has worked in 50 games for the Griffmen this season. Tom Zachary was none too effective in the first three innings, but Marberry stopped the Sox," limiting them to four hits and no walks with two strikeouts in six innings."
So can the 2012 Washington Nationals become the first pennant winner from the nation's capital since 1933 on the 88th anniversary of the first pennant win for Washington, D.C. in 1924?
Jordan Zimmermann's no "Firpo" Marberry. Zimmermann's more of a Tom Zachary to Gio Gonzalez's George Mogridge and Stephen Strasburg's Walter Johnson, but the Nats' 26-year-old right-hander has a chance to help the Nats clinch tonight if they can win and the New York Mets can take a second straight game over the Atlanta Braves. If the Nats don't clinch the pennant on a day that lines up nicely with D.C. baseball history, however, fans of the 2012 Nationals won't complain.
• Nats' Starting Lineup vs St. Louis:
Tonight's lineup: Werth, rf; Harper, cf; Zimmerman, 3b; LaRoche, 1b; Morse, lf; Desmond, ss; Espinosa, 2b; Suzuki, c; Zimmermann, p.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) September 29, 2012