Angels in the Outfield? More Likely Ghosts…

In a commentary in The Baltimore Sun this week, two writers suggest that the woes of the Washington Nationals baseball team are caused by none other than John Wilkes Booth.

Perhaps they are just two more depressed Washington Nationals fans, digging desperately for excuses as to why their team has yet again performed so poorly this season–or maybe Mark Greenbaum and David O’Leary, commentators for the Sun, are on to something…  

As a team with “mediocre arms, tired bats, and underwhelming prospects” (their words, not mine), Greenbaum and O’Leary have drawn the conclusion that the Nats have been cursed by the ghost of John Wilkes Booth–the notorious assassin of Abraham Lincoln.  

They say that not only has the team suffered from the usual trials and tribulations of a new franchise (the Nationals have only been in D.C. since 2005), such as mismanagement, but something far more grave is unfolding.  When Stephen Strasburg, a young, new pitcher who struck out 14 batters in his first big league start, suffered a potentially career-ending arm injury, Greenbaum and O’Leary thought of other teams that have had similar bad luck. The Chicago Cubs have the “Curse of the Billy Goat” and the Red Sox had the “Curse of the Bambino”–now it appears that the Nats have the Curse of the Assassin.  

According to the commentators: 

“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.” 

Greenbaum and O’Leary go on to discuss how Abe Lincoln was a huge fan of baseball’s predecessor, “town ball.”  There are several anecdotes of Lincoln either playing or watching the sport.  Perhaps it was his love for baseball that has caused the Nats to be targeted by Booth…for all eternity.