This Day in Baseball History: April 4th, 1948

Here are the two shaking hands, but I don’t know if this was race day or not. I don’t think it is, though. Mack is on the left with Griffith on the right.

On April 4, 1948:

Connie Mack and Clark Griffith race down the first base line.

By 1948, long gone were the days in which the Philadelphia A’s and Connie Mack won pennants and World Series. the Great Depression had forced him to sell off the main parts of those great teams, and because he refused to change his ways (and invest in a farm system), Mack’s A’s would never regain their former glory. In Griffith’s case, his team, the Washington Senators, was also having a difficult time. Their last World Series victory was in 1924, and the past few seasons were nondescript to terrible. Furthermore, he would almost lose the team the following season, but even at this point, his control of the team was tenuous, at best.

Still, the two could still have some fun. Before their Spring Training game, Mack and Griffith decided to have a race down the first base line to see who would win. Griffith was 78, and Mack was 85. Partially in jest and partially not, the two arrived to the field in an ambulance, and when the door opened, Mack, Griffith, a doctor, and two nurses stepped out of the vehicle. Commissioner Happy Chandler even came down to officiate the race. Senator coach Nick Altrock was the man with the starting gun.

Two two contestants stepped to home plate and were ready for the race. Altrock lifted the gun and fired, sending the two elderly contestants wobbling down the first base line. Griffith’s stride was described as “sprightly”, and Mack’s long limbs carried him to finish line. Two two battled neck-and-turkey neck. Both ran past first base, but the race was too close to call. Let’s go to the picture, and … it’s a tie.

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