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  • Clark Griffith

    Was wondering whether the Senators fans on the list had high regard for Owner Clark Griffith? I have always been interested in Griffith because he was a Missouri native and broke in with my beloved American Association St. Louis Browns, arguably the most successful colorful team in pro history.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Brownieand45sfan
    Was wondering whether the Senators fans on the list had high regard for Owner Clark Griffith? I have always been interested in Griffith because he was a Missouri native and broke in with my beloved American Association St. Louis Browns, arguably the most successful colorful team in pro history.
    While I have no personal recollections (I was only about 16 months old when Clark Griffith died.) I did manage to find this on line write up of Mr. Griffith. It does state that Mr. Griffith was often at odds with his players (usually concerning money) however, he was also a man of great sentimentality who looked after former players when their playing days were over. Note, too, that this write up does contain some inaccuracy-Clark Griffith died October 27th, 1955. Any entries after that date should be attributed to his adopted nephew Calvin.

    Clark Griffith, like Connie Mack in Philadelphia, was a BASEBALL man-he had no other income outside of the team and stadium rental. The original Washington Senators were continually cash strapped and I believe that Mr. Griffith did the best he could with what he had.

    Hopefully a more learned individual can provide some more insight into Mr. Griffith for us or suggest some further reading.
    Last edited by Aa3rt; 11-19-2006, 07:41 AM.
    "For the Washington Senators, the worst time of the year is the baseball season." Roger Kahn

    "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." Rogers Hornsby.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Aa3rt
      While I have no personal recollections (I was only about 16 months old when Clark Griffith died.) I did manage to find this on line write up of Mr. Griffith. It does state that Mr. Griffith was often at odds with his players (usually concerning money) however, he was also a man of great sentimentality who looked after former players when their playing days were over. Note, too, that this write up does contain some inaccuracy-Clark Griffith died October 27th, 1955. Any entries after that date should be attributed to his adopted nephew Calvin.

      Clark Griffith, like Connie Mack in Philadelphia, was a BASEBALL man-he had no other income outside of the team and stadium rental. The original Washington Senators were a continually cash strapped and I believe that Mr. Griffith did the best he could with what he had.

      Hopefully a more learned individual can provide some more insight into Mr. Griffith for us or suggest some further reading.
      Clark Griffith is shown visiting with FDR.

      Brownie31
      Attached Files

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      • #4
        Griffith was well-respected in D.C. He was a people person who participated in many city functions. From the day he moved to D.C. he became involved in the city, often contributing and leading charitable drives.

        He was also well-respected by the business, military and government community. He was often the go to guy between baseball and government, especially during FDR's term as the President and Landis couldn't stand each other.

        D.C. was a segregated city but Griffith often provided free use of his park for religious and other functions. He also attended more Negro league games than any other man in organized baseball, probably exponentially so.

        D.C. fans also loved his wife who they called Aunt Addie.
        Last edited by Brian McKenna; 11-24-2006, 03:57 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Brownieand45sfan View Post
          Was wondering whether the Senators fans on the list had high regard for Owner Clark Griffith? I have always been interested in Griffith because he was a Missouri native and broke in with my beloved American Association St. Louis Browns, arguably the most successful colorful team in pro history.
          I have the highest regard for Clark Griffith, who was also known as the "Gray Fox", I believe.

          Although Griff never had spare cash, his teams were always competitive, and once or twice a decade they either won a pennant or came within a game or so. (that "first in war, first in peace" joke refers to a time before Clark Griffith led the Nats)

          How? By pure wit. Intelligence. Craftiness...hence, the "Fox" nickname. (A shame, by the way, that his son, Calvin, persuaded a gullible sports-writer to write a biography calling Calvin the "gray fox". Theft! Libel! Near blashhemy!! )

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          • #6
            I believe Griffith was called the "Old Fox" and that stems from his pitching days when he was the most successful pitcher of the 1890s that didn't possess a great fastball.

            The "first in war..." moniker really got going after the team fielded rather poor teams year in and year out after 1933 until the team moved.

            While it is true that Griffith had little income outside the team and park rentals, he did quite well for himself. He supported two families and owned a big house on what was called Diplomat Row. His take from rental fees from the late 1930s until WWII (from the Grays and Redskins) was substantial. He also drew many significant year-end dividends from the Senators.

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            • #7
              Griffith go tin the HoF as an executive, but his pitching career was worthy of induction also.
              Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

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              • #8
                Clark Griffith was indeed well respected and remembered in Washington. Even though the Nats had become the doormats of the American League by the 1950's, the old man's devotion to the city was always on display.

                Because Griffith Stadium was the home of the famous Negro League Homestead Grays for so many years, Griffith was more aware of the great black players than probably any other major league owner. Many encouraged him during the last decade of his life to break the color barrier and many a Senator fan wished he had. The truth is, in those days Washington was still a midsized city and the most southern city in major league baseball. But because of his long successful relationship with the Grays, Griffith was never labeled as a racist.

                Not so his adopted son, Calvin. Seventeen years after moving the Senators, Calvin was quoted from a speech to a twin-cities sports club thusly: "I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ballgames, but they'll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it'll scare you to death. We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here." Rod Carew immediately demanded to be traded. I don't know how the Minnesota fans remember Calvin, but I don't know any fans in Washington who respected him.

                Although Washington was a segregated city. the school system had desegregated by the time I was in high school in the 1950's. Our big Catholic league rivalry football games and the City Championship games were always held at Griffith Stadium. I suppose those were some of the first integrated sports events in the city.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by DonDownUnder View Post
                  Because Griffith Stadium was the home of the famous Negro League Homestead Grays for so many years, Griffith was more aware of the great black players than probably any other major league owner. Many encouraged him during the last decade of his life to break the color barrier and many a Senator fan wished he had. The truth is, in those days Washington was still a midsized city and the most southern city in major league baseball. But because of his long successful relationship with the Grays, Griffith was never labeled as a racist.

                  Although Washington was a segregated city. the school system had desegregated by the time I was in high school in the 1950's. Our big Catholic league rivalry football games and the City Championship games were always held at Griffith Stadium. I suppose those were some of the first integrated sports events in the city.
                  Mr. Griffith, by far, watched more Negro league games than all other magnates combined.

                  It is true that he wasn't overtly revolutionary in promoting integration but his 40+-year promotion of Cuban ballplayers was revolutionary. Plus, as DonDownUnder notes DC was one of the two ML cities that were segregated. His options were limited, especially considering his shaky financial position many of his years in the city.

                  Upon arriving in D.C. in December 1911, Griffith brought a community-mindedness that was virtually ignored by his predecessors. He would often loan out the Stadium free of charge to local groups - many of which were from the black community. This brought tention between himself and the other owners until he gained control in late 1919.

                  Perhaps no other owner ever attended more local functions, chaired more local events/programs, gave freely of his time and resources as Griffith did in DC.

                  DC was also the political capital of the country - perhaps no man in that city was as respected and well-known as Mr. Griffith. The Green Light and other beneficial matters came from the tiny 5'4" former pitcher not the jackass former (and often overruled) judge from Chicago.

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