Posts Tagged baseball
Anacostia AMP Youth Sports Association keeps alive Douglassonian tradition of uplifting next generation of youngsters
Yesterday I had opportunity to attend a practice of the Anacostia Steelers in Anacostia Park. While walking to the pool I came across artwork recognizing the connection between Dr. Frederick Douglass and the communities of Hillsdale and Barry Farm.
While in Washington City the Douglass family invested in the uplifting of local children and their families through education, employment, political activism and participation and even sports.
Coach Tony of the Anacostia Steelers and Ms. Paige of the Anacostia AMP Youth Sports Association, and all of their support coaches, volunteers and parents are keeping the Douglassonian tradition of uplifting the next generation of youngsters alive.
Full article forthcoming …
Honorable Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., great-grandson of Dr. Frederick Douglass, recalls childhood memories of Highland Beach
In advance of Saturday’s special event at Highland Beach Kenneth B. Morris, Sr., President of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, was kind enough to share a moving reflection of his adolescence spent with family members who spoke with and were embraced by America’s Pharaoh Dr. Frederick Douglass.
We thank Ken for this special glimpse into the abiding and trailblazing strength of his family’s heritage and contributions to building institutions which established the economic independence and self-determination of African-Americans.
My great, great grandfather, Charles Remond Douglass, named after the abolitionist Charles Lenox Remond, was the third and youngest son of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray Douglass, born in 1844.
When Frederick Douglass began to assemble the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, he was proud to say that Charles was his first African American recruit to join-up to fight against the Confederacy during the Civil War in what had now become a struggle to end slavery. Having trained for battle, however, illness prevented Charles from participating in the assault on Fort Wagner on Morris Island, near Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter, South Carolina.
After the war, Charles tried to establish himself in a few careers without much luck. He found a government job at the Freedmen’s Hospital then he worked as a clerk at the Freedmen’s Bureau in Washington DC. In the late 1860’s and early 1870’s, Charles played right field and was an administrator for a DC baseball club called the Mutuals, who at that time, were one on the country’s best negro teams.
It wasn’t until the summer of 1893, however, when Charles purchased 40 acres on the shores of Chesapeake Bay that he found his niche in real estate. Charles subdivided the land and began developing the community of Highland Beach that later became an incorporated town where well-to-do African Americans would come to relax without fear of being harassed by whites. It was there at Highland Beach that Frederick Douglass dreamed of spending his final days, sitting in “the tower” at the top of his home along the shore, looking out across the bay to where he had once felt the lash of the overseer’s whip and where he had finally escaped the bonds of slavery.
I have fond memories of spending my summers in that house at the beach. When I was a little boy, I would sit in my great-great-great-grandfather’s chair in “the tower” and look across the bay to the land of his birth, which looked generations away.
My great-grandmother, Fannie Howard Douglass, or Grandmere as we called her, would sit down, put me on her knee, and with dramatic flair tell me about the first time she met Frederick Douglass as a little girl in Atlanta, Georgia.
Her father, David T. Howard, was born a slave and became one of the nation’s first black millionaires, owning and operating a mortuary business. When Frederick visited Atlanta, my great-great-grandfather Howard would pick him up at the train station in the fanciest horse-drawn carriage in town. Their very tall visitor, with a shock of white hair, made quite an impression on young Fannie.
From that day forward she began referring to him as “The Man with the Big White Hair” and did so until her death at the age of 103. She had no way of knowing at the time that she would grow up and marry his grandson, Joseph. When Grandmere and I were alone in “the tower,” she would point to the land on the other side of the Chesapeake and say, “That’s where Frederick lived as a slave when he was your age.”
I was too young to appreciate the significance of her stories at the time, but now that I am older, I realize how blessed I am to carry those memories today.
Unfortunately, Frederick Douglass’s dream of sitting in “the tower” was never realized. He passed away in 1895 a couple of months before the home was completed.
The new owner of the corner store at 16th & W Street SE in Old Historic Anacostia has supported an effort to create a mural on the 16th Street SE side of his building which will bring attention to and honor the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial.
Our ambitious plan for installation is BEFORE and/or during Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, coinciding with the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site’s celebration of the Douglass birthday with speakers / presenters mostly from outside of the community. The mural installation will involve the local community and bring the spirit of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial to the streets he walked and neighborhood he called home.
We are seeking to cover the costs of the muralist’s design time and labor, in addition to costs of materials such as paint, brushes, painter’s tape and other incidentals.
There will be outreach to involve local children and teenagers and local media to generate positive attention to the legacy and importance of Frederick Douglass to the local community of Old Anacostia and specifically the inhabitants of W Street SE and surrounding environs.
To support this effort please consider making a small donation.
“Douglass would play baseball with the children” [undated interview with “Mrs. Garnet C. Wilkinson”]
In researching the upcoming Death and Life of Old Anacostia I have had the chance to review the exhibit records for The Anacostia Story: 1608 – 1930. Last Friday I reviewed Box 217 which is replete with Douglass references. Here’s one particular item that caught my attention which appears to be an early draft of The Anacostia Story.
“One of the few prominent black families recorded as living in Uniontown was the Wilkinsons. Mrs. Garnet C. Wilkinson, the widow of an early black school administrator, recalls her husband describing Frederick Douglass and his estate. ‘My husband’s family lived on the street which the Douglass home fronts (W Street) and Douglass would play baseball with the children. Mr. Wilkinson was a clerk in the Pension Office and very political and he and Mr. Douglass would argue about current events.'”
Questions / Comments:
What is the source of this quote? I could not determine its origins in reviewing the draft. It’s not from a story in the Star or Post.
Garnet C. Wilkinson “presided for nearly 40 years over of Negro Division of the Washington public schools before desegregation,” according to his obituary in the Washington Post on 29 January, 1969. The same article said that Wilkinson moved to Washington from South Carolina when he was 8. If he was born in 1879, this means he moved to Washington by 1886 or 1887. In the 1887 Washington City Directory there is a “Wilkinson” on Nichols Avenue and another “Wilkinson” listed as living in Hillsdale. Could this have been the family of Garnet C. Wilkinson?
If this is, in fact, taken from Mrs. Garnet C. Wilkinson, she died in June 1942 while her husband was still living. Wilkinson remarried. Is this from Wilkinson’s second wife? When was it taken?
In early February 1978, the DC Public Library system opened the Garnet C. Wilkinson Branch inside the elementary school with the same name. Wilkinson had been a member of the Library’s Board of Trustees from 1959 – 1965. At the event, according to the Washington Post, Caroline Wilkinson, the widow of the honored, spoke. This timeline is consistent with what looks to be an oral interview taken from Caroline Wilkinson in the 1970s.
When Douglass died in 1895, Wilkinson couldn’t have been much more than 16 years old. How could he have been a clerk in the Pension Office at such a young age?
Lastly, it appears that Garnet C. Wilkinson helped to make a “pilgrimage” to the Douglass home by students from the city’s division of colored schools an annual event.
Frederick Douglass interested spectator as Cuban Giants defeat All-Washington club in an 1891 baseball game [Washington Post, Sept. 1, 1891]
Frederick Douglass was a baseball man. His son, Charles, organized and played on Washington, DC-based colored teams in postbellum Washington. The Washington Mutual and later Alerts both traveled up the East Coast to play in other cities and they defended their home turf at bygone fields like Olympic Grounds
The Cuban Giants, arguably the first professional black baseball team years before the Negro Leagues successfully organized, barnstormed across the country playing, and usually defeating, the most competitive colored teams each city could offer up.
In late summer 1891, Frederick Douglass just returned to the United States from his position as Minister to Haiti for the Harrison administration, took in a baseball game between the Cuban Giants and an All-Washington club. He was one of nearly 900 people in attendance.
According to an article in the Washington Post on the game, “The majority of those present were colored, but there was a fair sprinkling of the regular ball patrons, who are anxiously awaiting the Senators’ return home. They were agreeably surprised by the really good game of ball which was put up.”
The Giants defeated the Washington team by a score of 8 to 5 in a game that took a little over two hours to complete. The Post explained away the loss by declaring that the “Locals Lacked Practice” and that the “All-Washington” team “Fought Gamely, but Couldn’t Get There.”
FRED DOUGLASS SEES A COLORED GAME. _ The announcement that the Pythian of Philadelphia would play the Alert, of Washington, D.C. (both colored organizations) on the 16th inst., attracted quite a concourse of spectators to the grounds of the Athletic, Seventeen street and Columbia avenue, Philadelphia. The game progressed finely until the beginning of the fifth inning, when a heavy shower of rain set in, compelling the umpire, Mr. E. H. Hayhurt, of the Athletic, to call game. The score stood at the end of the fourth inning: Alter 21; Pythian, 16, The hitting and fielding of both clubs were very good. Mr. Frederick Douglass was present and viewed the game from the reporters’ stand. His son is a member of the Alert.
In the fall of 1870 the Washington Mutuals Base Ball Club, of which Charles Douglass was a member, toured “through the western part of the state of New York” and promptly defeated the Arctic Club of Lockport, the Rapids Club of Niagara Falls, the Mutuals of Buffalo, and a “picked nine” at Rochester, – the city in which Charles was born and raised by his father, Frederick, and mother, Anna Murray.
This box score from The New York Clipper shows Charles (his last name misspelled) playing right field and batting eighth in a game the Mutuals won 23-19. Charles, the youngest son of Frederick Douglass, accounted for one run and made four outs.
After serving his country in the United States Civil War, Charles Remond Douglass, the youngest son of Frederick Douglass, came to Washington, DC to serve as a clerk in the Freedmen’s Bureau, headed by Union General Oliver Otis Howard.
While all members of Frederick Douglass’ family would eventually settle in Washington by the early 1870s, according to Boyd’s City Directory and surviving letters Charles was the first to settle in the city. By 1869, Charles, living east of the Anacostia River in “Potomac City” (today known as the Hillsdale / Barry Farm neighborhood) was joined in Washington by his two older brothers, Lewis and Frederick, Jr., who had both been in Colorado.
According to records generously shared by the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum, by September 1869 Charles Douglass was serving as President of the city’s Mutual Base Ball Club, negotiating with opposing teams what field to play on, the rules which would govern the still-evolving game, and how to share the gate proceeds.
According to Ryan Swanson, now a professor at George Mason University, in his dissertation to Georgetown University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, “Jim Crow on deck: Baseball during America’s Reconstruction,” the emerging sport that was sweeping both America’s country sides and industrializing urban centers forged a connection between father, Frederick, and son, Charles. This ageless connection between father and son that the game supports is why baseball is rightfully known as America’s pastime.
“Charles Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass, for one knew what it was to work with white men (in the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Treasury Department), but he seemed enthused particularly about playing baseball among black men.
First with the Mutual Baseball Club and then the Alerts, Douglass enjoyed the challenges and expressive freedom of bringing together a group of black men. Black ballclubs served as tools to demonstrate equality. Douglass kept his famous father apprised of his baseball activities, often sharing his thoughts on how the game served to improve general perceptions of black men in the community: “Dear Father, The club to which I belong in a game of base ball with the Olympics (white) were beaten by a score of 24-15, so you see we played them as close as the Mutuals [white] of New York did,” he wrote in the fall of 1869.”
The next year, Charles’ father was unanimously selected as an “Honorary Member” of the Mutual Base Ball Club.