Baseball in Rockville

By Beth Dawson Rodgers
June 2005

Most likely, Rockville's first experience with baseball was during the Civil War on the fields where Richard Montgomery High School now stands. It was known as "Camp Lincoln" because of the Union encampment there, and Federal soldiers helped popularize the new game they brought from the North. In July 1864, Confederate soldiers, including Jubal Early's troops, may have played on the same fields. Southern troops were learning the game and would improvise with a nut or large rock if a ball was not available.
Rockville Base Ball team, c. 1895. From the Charles Brewer Collection of Peerless Rockville. .

After the Civil War those fields - known as the Rockville Fairgrounds - continued to be a popular place for baseball. The Rockville Base Ball Club was formed in 1899; many of the early players came from the Dawson and Brewer families. By the 1930's, rivalries between Rockville, Gaithersburg, Colesville, and Bethesda were played out at Sunday afternoon games. Women cheered boisterously for the local team, although some folks still frowned on young girls actually playing the sport. Baseball in Rockville remained segregated into the mid-20th century, but once a year Rockville's black and white teams would get together and play against each other.

In addition to cheering for local boys, Rockville citizens could go to Griffith Stadium to see Walter "Big Train" Johnson pitch for the Washington Senators. Johnson, who is buried in Rockville Cemetery, was known for his hissing fastball.

Bill Lamar was a local boy who joined Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's in 1924. Lamar brought teammates Lefty Grove, Mickey Cochrane, and Max Bishop to Rockville on the trolley to play at the Fairgrounds. They often slept on the porch of the nearby Dawson farmhouse at Rocky Glen.

Another professional player from Rockville, Clarence "Pint" Isreal, scored a pinch-hit single off Satchel Paige in the 1946 Negro World Series, helping the Newark Eagles clinch the championship. Isreal's commitment to local sports is recalled with a Rockville park named for him.

Gordy Coleman from Rockville played with the Cincinnati Reds from 1960-1967 and hit a home run against the New York Yankees in the '61 World Series. He is still remembered as a "gentle giant" by family and friends.

Since the 1970's, more facilities and structured leagues expanded the opportunities for Rockvillians, including girls and women, to play as well as to watch the sport. The City estimates that some 800 games are played each season in Rockville today. Come cheer Rockville's newest baseball team, the Rockville Express, at Knight's Field, Montgomery College.

Used with permission of:

Peerless Rockville
PO Box 4262, Rockville, MD 20849
Tel 301.762.0096
Fax 301.762.0961

History of Baseball in Rockville, Maryland - posted 3/16/06