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A collage of historic and contemporary photographs of baseball players and collections from the Library of Congress.
This collage starts off our programs and was created by Library of Congress Internship (LOCI) program past participant Katrina Limson.

More Baseball Trivia: Summer Reading Part 2

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The trivia questions in this post were created by Library of Congress Internship (LOCI) program spring 2023 participant Katrina Limson, a MLIS student at San Jose State University.

As the dog days of summer goes on, so does the Library of Congress’s partnership with the Washington Nationals—the “team that reads”! On July 31, the Nationals batted their way towards victory against the Brewers. Before the game, Lauren Windham Roszak and Jennifer Ezell of the Library’s Informal Learning Office led interactive trivia during the team’s family Story Time with the team’s Summer Reading Ambassador. Like last month, you can participate in our Story Time activity from home by quizzing your family on the trivia questions below. Test your family’s knowledge below—scroll past each photograph for the answer!

Library staff participating in the Story Time at Nationals Park snapped a picture of the stadium’s National Book Festival promos, as well as another picture of relief pitcher Kyle Finnegan reading to the kids. Photo courtesy Jennifer Ezell, staff.


Question #1: What was the name of the professional Major League Baseball team in Washington D.C. that preceded the Nationals?

A. Presidents

B. Senators

C. Generals

D. Leaders

A black and white photograph of two 1920s baseball players in an empty stadium. One, a girl in pantaloons and a flowing shirt, leans over as she catches a ball. The player in pinstripes next to her looks impressed.
Girls Baseball. (National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress, 1920). According to newspaper articles from the time period, Washington’s baseball team taught employees of the Treasury Department’s War Risk Bureau how to play baseball.

Answer: B. Senators

The Washington Senators played in the American League of Major League Baseball from 1901 to 1960. Their home field of Griffith Stadium was located at present-day Howard University Hospital. The Senators won three American League pennants and two World Series championships during their early years. But as their luck faded, so did attendance—and in 1960, the team moved to Minneapolis as the Twins. They were replaced by another team—also called the Senators—that played at D.C. Stadium, later Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, for eleven more years.

[Kinograms. No. 5021–excerpt], Senators win World Series. (Nalkranian (Louise) Collection (Library of Congress) This film reel was found in a garage several decades after it was placed there!

Question #2: Softball’s original name was indoor baseball. True or false?

Ten baseball players and a bat boy in the center pose in a studio, cross-armed and unsmiling. The words World's Champions- Owosso Michigan West Side Indoor Base Ball Team- are above them. The batboy has two bats crossed in front of him and one of the players holds a large softball.
World’s champions, 1905-1906, Owosso, Mich., West-side Indoor Baseball Team. (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)


Answer: True

As Katrina learned from the Baseball Americana exhibition, a group of friends in Chicago inadvertently created softball during the cold midwestern winter the day after Thanksgiving in 1887. They began hitting a boxing glove with a stick, which soon evolved into a game similar to baseball. By 1926, this game had a new name—softball. By then, it was played outside, but had larger balls, shorter bats, and a smaller diamond.

The front cover of Spalding's Athletic Library Official Indoor Baseball Guide from February 1903.
Official indoor base ball guide containing the constitution, Spalding Athletic Library, 1917. (Library of Congress, General Collections).


Question 3: What are the cores of some baseballs made out of today?

A. Plastic

B. Wood

C. Straw

D. Cork

A man in a suit sits in front of a fireplace and examines a baseball
Walter “Big Train” Johnson with baseballs autographed by Presidents Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, 1939.  (Harris & Ewing, Library of Congress).


Answer: D. Cork

Over the years, baseballs have been made of different materials. Spalding was the first manufacturer to patent a core—made of wood—in the late 19th century. Over time, as players realized that different materials led to faster and further-flying balls, teams varied what they used. Today, professional-grade baseballs have cork at the very center, often surrounded by rubber. The photograph below from the Office of War Information shows the inside of World War II-era baseballs. As the caption shares, “Cork-cushioned centers in baseballs–official in major leagues for more than a decade–are war-taboo. Rubber-cushioned centers, “borrowed” from stopped golf ball production, offer temporary relief.”

Two baseballs cut in half
New wartime baseball. Roger Smith, 1943. (Office of War Information, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress)


Question 4: Baseball was first played in the United States.

True or false?

The front of a 1912 baseball card with two players. On the left is a drawing of one, with a photograph of one sliding in to a base and the other one standing, and the third picture is a drawing of the second player.
George F. McBride/Clyde Milan, Washington Nationals, baseball card portrait, 1912, Benjamin K. Edwards Collection, Prints and Photographs Division.

Answer: False

One of the earliest mentions of baseball in print was on page 42 of “A Pretty Little Pocket Book”, a miniature children’s book that was published in 1787. This source provides evidence that the origins of baseball were in England, as it is a reprint of a 1744 book by John Newberry.

Question 5: A player from the Washington Senators is one of the first five players who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

True or false?

A photo taken through the legs of a baseball player of a group of five boys watching two boys hit and catch for a baseball game in front of the U.S. Capitol dome.
Baseball game with group of men and young boys (pages?) seen through legs of pitcher, with U.S. Capitol in background, Washington, D.C., 1939. (Harris & Ewing, Prints and Photographs).


Answer: True

Walter “Big Train” Johnson was the pitcher for the Washington Senators from 1907-1927. He helped them win the 1924 World Series. He was inducted in the very first Baseball Hall of Fame class with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Christy Mathewson in 1936. Of course, there’s no shortage of photographs of Walter Johnson in the Library’s collection, such as the one below of Johnson with President Calvin Coolidge at Griffith Stadium.

A player in a pinstripe baseball uniform poses with a man in a suit. They are in front of an audience of all-men, many of whom are wearing boater hats.
Calvin Coolidge and Walter Johnson pose in front of a crowd at the stadium. (National Photo Collection, Prints and Photographs Division).

Want more baseball trivia?  We’ll be at the stadium for future Story Times on Thursday, August 17 before the 4:05 p.m. game, and September 3 before the 1:30 p.m. game.

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