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10/30/07 This Day in Washington Baseball History...

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The Continuing Attempt To Educate A Montreal Fan About DC Baseball History)...

     Clear Creek, Missouri, a prairie town on the western edge of the state, is the home to one of the most important figures in Washington, DC baseball history.

     One, Clark Calvin "The Old Fox" Griffin, who was born on November 20, 1869 in Clear Creek, and played 20 Major League seasons starting in 1891 in St.Louis, then Boston, Chicago, New York, Cincinnati, and Washington, where he signed on as the Manager on October 30, 1911, and where he ended his career as a player in 1914 and then solely managed the team until 1920, at which point he purchased the team, which he would own until his death, in his adopted hometown, some thirty-five years later.

     A 5'6'', 156-pound, right-handed hurler, Clark Griffith debuted as a professional in the American Association with the St. Louis Browns as a twenty-one year old on April 11, 1891, and went (14-9) in 38 starts with the Browns and the Boston Reds that year, posting a 3.74 ERA in 34 games overall.

     Two years later, Griffith started his ten year stint in Chicago, where he played from 1893 to 1902 with the Chicago Colts(1893-97), and the Orphans(1898-1900), after which his two years with the Chicago White Sox(Stockings?) in (1901-02) started his time as a Player/Manager, a role in which he continued with the New York Highlanders from (1903-1907), and for a season in Cincinnati in 1909, before finishing his playing career as a Washington Senator in 1914.

     On the road to the Hall of Fame, Clark "The Old Fox" Griffith compiled a (237-146) record with a career 3.31 ERA in 453 games. As a Player/Manager from 1901-1920, Griffith managed his teams to a (1491-1367) record, and along the way, according to baseballlibrary.com, developed,

     "...a six-pitch arsenal, including the screwball (which he
     claimed to have invented), a silencing quick-pitch delivery,
     and the ruse of hiding the ball in the plane of his body before
     delivering. Griffith scuffed, scratched, cut, and spit upon
     nearly every pitch without hesitation..."

     In addition to his own claim of inventing the screwball as a player, Clark Griffith stands out as an innovative Manager and Owner, and is credited in the baseballlibrary.com article with having "installed the first device to record pitch speed (borrowed from the U.S. Army)," and advancing the idea of "relief" pitching, as well as eventually leading the Senators, thanks to Walter Johnson's presence in the 12th inning of Game 7 of the 1924 World Series, to Washington, DC's first World Championship.

     Upon his death in 1955, the struggling Washington Senators franchise Griffith had purchased on the advice of Walter "Big Train" Johnson in 1920 and which "The Old Fox" owned for thirty-five years, was passed down to his son. Six years later, in 1969, Griffith's son Calvin Griffith, moved the franchise to Minnesota, where they became the Twins.

Links:

Baseballlibrary article:

http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=Clark_Griffith_1869

Clark Griffith's Player Stats at Baseball-reference:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/g/griffcl01.shtml

Griffith's Managerial Record at Baseball-reference:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/griffcl01.shtml

Wikipedia profile of Clark Griffith:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clark_Griffith