He remembers much of the detail like it was yesterday, even though it was more than 32,000 yesterdays ago, on Oct. 4, 1924, when Abramson sat in the aisle at old Griffith Stadium and watched the very first World Series game played in Washington.
President Calvin Coolidge threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The men in the grandstand wore suits and straw hats. The Senators (or the Nationals, if you preferred — the team didn’t have an official nickname then) lost the game to the New York Giants; but they ultimately won the World Series.
No Washington team has won a World Series championship in the 88 years since.
No Washington team has played in the major league postseason at all since the 1933 World Series, which the Senators lost. But the city’s 79-year playoff dry spell finally ends Sunday, when the Nationals begin the best-of-five National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I expect good things out of this team,” says Abramson, who watches almost every game at home. “Washington has never had a team like this.”
Not even in 1924, when the roster was loaded with future Hall of Famers and won it all? “Not even in ’24,” the semi-retired accountant says.
No team sport celebrates and cherishes its past quite like baseball, and Washington is a city that’s obsessed with history — especially its own.
So there is something almost mystical about talking old-time Washington baseball with fans like Abramson, who personally witnessed World Series history. Not that there are many fans like Abramson still living, says Henry W. Thomas, the grandson of the great Walter Johnson.
“He’s gotta be one of the last who was there in 1924,” Thomas says. “Just do the math: You’d have to have been at least 8 to remember anything, and it was 88 years ago. So you’re at least 96 years old.”
Thomas hasn’t met the 99-year-old Abramson — yet. But, he says, “I became pretty good friends with Shirley Povich,” the late, legendary Washington Post sports columnist. “And whenever I was with him, I could never escape the feeling that it was some kind of time travel for me. He’d bring up something that happened in 1924, and I’d just go: Wow! Gosh!”
Abramson remembers plenty about that team, along with his personal history here. His memory is “sharp as a tack,” says his niece, Lynne Filderman, who marvels that her uncle can recite his phone number from the 1920s.
“Sure,” Abramson says, when prompted. “It’s North-5542.” He has long been formally retired, but he still does the books for his son Eddie’s accounting firm, logging on to a computer every day in his home office.
On the eve of the postseason, Abramson sits at the kitchen table in his eighth-floor condominium in Bethesda. (His developer son, Jeffrey, built the luxury high-rise.) He looks over the 1924 World Series Game 1 box score; Washington’s lineup is nothing but last names — McNeely, Harris, Rice, Goslin, Judge, Bluege, Peckinpaugh, Ruel — so Abramson pulls all the first names from memory.