Swampoodle Grounds

Chief curator Daniel Piazza shares intimate knowledge, little-known facts and secrets about the stories told in “Baseball: America’s Home Run,” highlighting some of the spectacular objects on display, including discussions with key lenders to the exhibition on artifacts never-before displayed for pubic view.

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I'm Dan Piazza, curator of the National Postal Museum exhibition, Baseball: America's Home Run, on view until January, 2025.

Join me for an inside look at some of the most exciting objects from this blockbuster show that explores America's national pastime through stamps, mail and memorabilia.

As baseball developed into a professional sport that attracted working-class audiences, a new ball field called Capital Park was built in Washington, DC in 1886.

It accommodated 6,500 fans, hosted major league baseball games for four seasons, and was commonly known as Swampoodle Grounds after the surrounding neighborhood's tendency to flood.

Let's take a closer look.

The National League team that played here, interchangeably called the National Senators and Statesmen, never had a winning season.

Washington's franchise was canceled after the 1889 season and by mid-1890 the ballpark was abandoned.

Cornelius McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack, made his Major League debut in 1886 as a catcher for the Washington Nationals at Swampoodle Grounds.

He became the longest serving manager in baseball history when he coached the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 until 1950.

This 1894 advertising cover promotes Arthur A. Irwin's improved mitt and glove. The Canadian-born Irwin played in Swampoodle Grounds during the Nationals' final 1889 season as both shortstop and manager.

So what happened to Swampoodle Grounds?

It was finally demolished to make way for Washington's Union Station and its new City Post Office, the building that today is home to the National Postal Museum.

For more on the intersection of postal and baseball history, visit the National Postal Museum exhibition, Baseball: America's Home Run, online at postalmuseum.si.edu/baseball

Baseball: America’s Home Run