Marty Niland: Nats will turn back the clock, recall Washington’s glory days

A visit to Nationals Park will be like a trip back in time for fans attending Thursday night’s game between the Nationals and the San Francisco Giants.

Turn Back the Clock Night will recall the last (and only) time Washington celebrated a World Series championship: 1924, when the Senators and the then-New York Giants met in a Fall Classic that many historians rate as one of the best.

For this game, the curly W won’t be in fashion. The centerpiece of the celebration will be the uniforms, replicas of the ones the Senators and Giants wore in 1924 (Let’s hope the players wear the stirrups up high, like the players did in those days). Although uniform numbers weren’t customary then, the Nationals say these jerseys will have numbers on the back, but no names. And instead of the curly W cap that bridged the gap between the Senators of 1971 and the modern day Nats, the team will wear this one, with a block W.

The old-time lettering will carry over to the stadium as well, with block W flags flying throughout the game. The Racing Presidents, Screech and the rest of the entertainment staff will wear the replica jerseys as well. The grounds crew will be dressed in full 1920s attire and the game day staff will don newsie caps and skimmers.

While high-definition scoreboards and stadium lights might seem anachronistic (the major leagues’ first night game wasn’t played until 1935), the Nats will do their best to make modern amenities fit in with the theme. The team says the HD graphics will reflect how the scoreboard would have looked in 1924, and the game will feature video tributes to the 1924 Senators. In addition, organ music will replace the traditional popular music played between innings.

The pregame entertainment will include Ben Mauger’s Roaring 20s Jazz Orchestra, and former Senators announcers Charlie Brotman and Phil Hochberg will host the pre-game ceremonies. The ceremonial first pitch will come from behind the Nats’ dugout, just as it did when President Calvin Coolidge did the honors. Fans will also get to enjoy 1920s prices at the concession stands: Buy one hot dog, bag of peanuts or popcorn for the regular price, and get another for a nickel.

As for the ‘24 Series itself, it was a classic. Played in the days before television, not much remains except historic accounts and old photos. But it was as close, intense and had as many clutch performances as any Fall Classic today’s fans can think of.

The Giants were baseball’s biggest-spending, most dominant team in those days, playing in their eighth series in 14 years and fourth straight under Hall of Fame manager John McGraw. The Senators, meanwhile, had won their first pennant behind Walter Johnson, considered by many to be the greatest pitcher of all time. But at 36 and nearing the end of his legendary career, the Big Train wasn’t his dominating self early on, losing two complete-game starts, despite racking up some impressive strikeout totals.

But his teammates, including Goose Goslin at the plate and Tom Zachary on the mound, picked up the slack and forced a seventh game. Washington trailed 3-1 in the eighth inning, but tied it when player-manager Bucky Harris hit a routine grounder to third that hit a pebble and bounced over Giants third baseman Freddie Linstrom, allowing two runs to score. Johnson came out of the bullpen and threw four scoreless innings before another bad hop got by Linstrom in the 12th, and Muddy Ruel raced home from second, giving Washington a 4-3 victory.

Marty Niland blogs about the Nationals for D.C. Baseball History. His thoughts on the Nationals will appear here as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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