Woodrow Wilson throws the first pitch

President Woodrow Wilson throws out the first pitch in 1916 at Griffith Park (1911-1965).

In browsing some long-ago newspaper articles about Culpeper, I was enchanted with this one published by The Times-Dispatch (Richmond) on Monday, June 23, 1913.

Culpeper Lads Received by President Wilson, and Also Meet Clark Griffith

[Special to The Times-Dispatch]

Culpeper, Va. June 22—Henry Walton, captain of the Culpeper Company of Boy Scouts of America, and successful Sunday school worker, was host to the eight boys of his class for a day’s trip to Washington on Thursday, which will probably live long in the annals of their memory.

Primarily the trip was to witness the big game between the Washington and Cleveland baseball teams, but as an additional pleasure, which was not divulged to the group of boys until their arrival in Washington, Mr. Walton had arranged through his half-brother, Dr. Cary Grayson, who is one of the President’s aides, an interview with President Wilson, who received the little party most kindly.

And after the game that afternoon the eight lads were also presented to Manager Griffith, of the American League, and left, as one of their number expressed it, “that they had shaken hands with the two biggest men in Washington.” Those in the party were Ellis and William Aylor, Johnson and Henry Strother, Shirley Tate, Francis Woolfolk, Browing Leavell and Frank Brand.

No need to waste words on President Woodrow Wilson’s bio, but I found some interesting data on Clark Griffith (1869-1955).

Born on Nov. 20 in Clear Creek, Missouri, Griffith became a celebrated pitcher, manager and owner starting out in 1891 with the St. Louis Browns. He went on to play for the Boston Reds and the Chicago Colts/Orphans, and then as a player and manager for the Chicago White Stockings and the New York Highlanders.

Griffith scaled back his role as a player and focused on managing first the Cincinnati Reds and later the Washington Senators. Griffith would buy the Senators team in 1920 and maintain ownership until his death in 1955. Clark Griffith was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.

Another semi connection to Culpeper is the fact that Clark Griffith left the Cincinnati Reds in 1911 the year before Culpeper’s own Eppa Rixey signed on with the team. One might ponder if their paths crossed and if Griffith had anything to do with recruiting Rixey.

For those who are new to Culpeper’s deep and vast history, Rear Admiral Cary Grayson, MD (1878-1938) was born and raised at the 1750s Georgian house known as Salubria located in Stevensburg (Culpeper County).

Grayson served as Woodrow Wilson’s physician and received President Wilson on occasion at Salubria. The stories of Grayson are intriguing and far too expansive to include in this column. However, as a teaser for your curiosity, note a few of his other accomplishments: served as medical adviser to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Howard Taft, accompanied Wilson to the peace talks in Paris in 1919, was chairman of the American Red Cross and an avid race horse breeder and enthusiast.

Did I mention that he had a Gleaves-class destroyer named in his honor: the USS Grayson?

Here is hoping that readers will offer stories on the “eight lads” named above who enjoyed a most memorable experience.

Until next week, be well.

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Zann Nelson is an award -winning freelance writer specializing in historical investigations and is currently serving as Director of Montpelier’s African American Descendants’ Project. She can be reached at M16439@aol.com.

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