Living

Biloxi used to host training camp for the Washington Senators

Gary A. Sarnoff’s book can be found in the local history dept. of the Biloxi Public Library.
Gary A. Sarnoff’s book can be found in the local history dept. of the Biloxi Public Library. Photo courtesy of Paul Jermyn

This 1933 photo brings back the days from 1930 to 1935 when the Washington Senators major league baseball team held their spring training sessions in Biloxi.

In 1930, the Senators’ manager Clark Griffith, began looking for a new training camp.

His preferences were a mild climate and a field in “tip-top shape.” With an enthusiastic pitch from Biloxi’s Chamber of Commerce and the further enticement of a shipment of Gulf shrimp, Griffith agreed to bring his team to the Mississippi Coast.

According to Gary A. Sarnoff’s excellent book “The Wrecking Crew of ’33: the Washington Senators’ Last Pennant,” the team got even more than it bargained for.

“At Biloxi Stadium (now part of Keesler AFB) the grass was so green and the field was so smooth ... it is a whole lot better than most major league playing fields.”

When the Senators arrived in Biloxi, their train was met by Mayor John Kennedy and crowds of locals.

Pictured at the bat is Charles Edgar “Sam” Rice (1890-1974) who played for the Senators from 1915 to 1933. He didn’t join the majors until age 25.

According to information from the Hall of Fame, into which he was inducted in 1963, Rice started as a pitcher and developed into a great hitter, with a .322 lifetime average, 2,987 total hits and six seasons with more than 200 hits. He played 543 games over the age of 40. In 1934, he played one season with the Cleveland Indians.

The left background shows catcher Morris “Mo” Berg (1902-1972) who played a total of 15 major league baseball seasons with the Chicago White Sox, the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox, and the Washington Senators. As baseball’s most mysterious player, he has been described as never more than a mediocre player. However, it is believed his baseball playing was a cover-up for his real career, espionage! See internet sources for Berg’s fascinating story.

Murella H. Powell, a local historian, writes the weekly Flashback column. Do you have a local photograph to submit to Flashback? It can be of any subject or event in the Coast’s distant or recent past. Please send a description with your name, address and phone number to Flashback, Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535; call 896-2424; or email living@sunherald.com.

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