It's been five years since major league baseball returned to the
nation's capital. In that time, the Washington Nationals have posted a
403-549 record, failed to make the postseason and lost
promising young pitcher in a generation to a catastrophic arm injury.
Given all that misfortune, it seems fair to ask, are the Nationals
haunted? More importantly, are they being haunted by the man who killed
Abraham Lincoln? Yes and yes, argue Mark
Greenbaum and David O'Leary
of The Baltimore Sun. It's a problem
they attribute to the location of the Nationals Park (not to the ghost's
liking) and Lincoln's fondness for baseball (also not to the ghost's
liking). Greenbaum and O'Leary explain:
While the Nationals' woes can be traced
to a legacy of administrative incompetence and player failures, the
team's location at the Washington Navy Yard should also be considered as
a source of their ineptitude. Nationals Park sits directly on an
infamous stretch of the Anacostia River where authorities conducted the
autopsy of John Wilkes Booth on the ironclad U.S.S. Montauk anchored at
the Navy Yard. Next door at Fort McNair, Booth's co-conspirators were
held and tried at the country's first federal penitentiary, and four of
them were hanged there in July 1865. Booth himself was buried there
until his remains were later moved.
Nestled beside where
Lincoln's killers were executed, the placement of the stadium may have
unwittingly exposed the Nationals to the conspirators' vengeful ghosts.
That the apparitions of Booth and his gang would aim their ghoulish
enmity on modern baseball may seem strange, but it makes sense given
President Lincoln's affinity for what became our national pastime. ...
and his co-conspirators, Lincoln's affection of old-time base ball might
be enough for them to focus their eternal hatred against it, and the
sport's popularity in the North during the Civil War, particularly among
federal soldiers, would have reinforced their disgust of the burgeoning
recreation. Haunting the Nats could be a degree of revenge against the
residents of the loathed Union capital.
All of which gives this
some added context.
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