Baseball on the Mall

Baseball on the Mall, 1942.

Washington, D.C. amateur baseball games are held daily on fields near the Washington Monument, between rival governmental departments, employees of restaurants, garages, tec., 1942.
Photograph by Marjory Collins, Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Throughout the late 19th century, baseball teams—both black and white—played on the Ellipse, just north of the Museum, and on the grounds of the Washington Monument. The abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass was an honorary member of the Mutual Base Ball Club, which was owned by his son Charles A. Douglass, who also played for the team. Because there were no fences, batters who hit long distances could run around the bases and score as many times as possible before the fielders could return the ball to home plate, according to the generous rules of the so-called “Washington game.” Scores could top the 100 mark before the rules were changed.