Out of the Archives: EDOW and Major League Baseball

by | Oct 31, 2019

EDOW Goes to the Birds, September 2004

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals for achieving the #finishthefight status that has decorated t-shirts throughout the DC area in recent weeks. Go team! 

A search of Diocesan Archives found no references to World Series appearances by the Senators in 1924 and 1933, but in 1961, the Washington Diocese magazine did begin running features on Episcopalian Nights: “The night game between the Senators and the Baltimore Orioles will be promoted by the Church of the Holy Communion as a fund-raising event for the site-purchase program. Each parish will be asked to sell blocks of tickets at the usual $1.50 grandstand seat price. Of this amount, 50 cents will go into the special fund.” 

Parishes were asked to send representatives to a final plan meeting in July, before the August 18 game. The May 1963 magazine advertised the third annual “Episcopal Night” for June 7, “when the Washington Senators play the Cleveland Indians in the new D.C. Stadium.” This time the recipients of the largesse of the 50 cents from each ticket was the Department of Missions program for a total of $1700. The Diocese of Virginia had joined the group the previous year and their donations of $800 went for its advance work. In 1967 the Diocesan Department of Information Service sought an individual or group with time and energy to organize the event.  The appeal advises, “The time commitment would be considerable as the event nears.” No one must have stepped up to the plate because that is the last mention of the Senators and the Diocese in the Diocesan magazine or newspaper.

When the Senators left Washington in 1971, there was a drought of EDOW baseball events until Bishop John Chane’s arrival. While Bishop Chane was a stalwart Boston Red Sox fan, the Diocese went to a September 2003 game of the Orioles vs. the Seattle Mariners. Not only were there almost 550 Episcopalians there, their center field seats also came with home run balls from Ichiro Suzuki and B.J. Surhoff. There was also “free” baseball, since the Mariners ended up winning, 6-4, in 13 innings. 

The Rev. Canon Nan Peete, formerly on Church House staff, receives a handshake and a baseball

Newly named “EDOW Goes to the Birds”, the second annual trek to Camden Yards brought both the New York Yankees and 900 parishioners on I-95 in September of 2004. Runs abounded as the O’s beat the Yanks 14-8. Jim Naughton, the Diocesan Director of Communications and organizer of the events, said he “would happily promise Orioles owner Peter Angelos that EDOW would go to the Birds again next season if Angelos would drop his opposition to locating a major league team in the District.”

The next year brought EDOW back to RFK (DC) Stadium for the inaugural season of the Washington Nationals. That September game saw the Nats come from behind to beat the Atlanta Braves 8-6. More than 40 of the then 93 parishes bought 1,550 tickets for the event, larger than the two previous years combined and was one of the largest groups that the Nats hosted for the first season. Naughton requested assistance with organizing future trips, especially in light of accessibility issues for the upper deck seats that are usually assigned to groups. Unfortunately, no one was in the on deck circle, although I have seen individual parishes listed on the list of groups attending games over the years at Nationals Park.

And, in case you weren’t sure about the connection between Major League Baseball and the Episcopal Church, read this archived column from the Episcopal Cafe. Written by the Rev. Andrew Gerns and shared worldwide, please especially notice the date of the article.

Mrs. Susan Stonesifer
Diocesan Historiographer

Washington Nationals mascot, Screech, hanging out with some young Episcopalian fans