Another Arlington Resident on Jeopardy! — Local attorney Luigi de Guzman will be a contestant on Jeopardy! on Friday, with host Ken Jennings. He’s the latest in a line of Arlington residents who have appeared on the long-running TV quiz show. [Instagram]
County May Be Sued By Contractor — “It looks like a raging dispute over payment for a now-completed major upgrade to Arlington’s Benjamin Banneker Park will be headed to court. Arlington County Board members on July 19 rejected a claim from McDonnell Landscape Inc., seeking reimbursement for costs totaling just under $995,000 for work it says was done as part of its contract to upgrade the park but it has not received. County Manager Mark Schwartz earlier had offered to settle the matter for $272,000, an attorney for the firm said, but that was turned down.” [Sun Gazette]
Baseball Tourney Now Underway — “Led by host team Arlington Post 139, the eight-team American Legion Virginia state baseball tournament is scheduled to begin this afternoon, July 26 in Arlington, with games at Barcroft Park’s Tucker field and Wakefield High School… Those eight teams all are scheduled to play again on July 27 at the two fields. The tournament continues through Friday, July 29, with the championship game scheduled for 4 p.m.” [Sun Gazette]
Local Man Charged in Alexandria Abduction — “A 29-year-old Arlington man faces a jury trial next month for allegedly robbing and assaulting his disabled ex-girlfriend in her West End apartment. The suspect has been held without bond in the Alexandria jail since his arrest on February 8. On February 1, a week before his arrest, the suspect allegedly forced his way into the woman’s apartment and removed her from her wheelchair, according to a search warrant affidavit.” [ALXnow]
It’s Wednesday — Rain early in the morning then cloudy throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 72. Sunrise at 6:07 am and sunset at 8:26 pm. [Weather.gov]
Photo courtesy Curt Cultice
Baseball Tourney in Arlington — “One area’s loss became another’s big gain in recent days when Arlington County was added as an emergency replacement site for this month’s American Legion state-baseball tournament. The eight-team competition, which will include local District 17’s Arlington Post 139 as the host team, will take place July 26-30 at the Barcroft Park and Wakefield High School fields.” [Sun Gazette]
Grant for Second Ballston Metro Entrance — From the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission: “[Arlington County] received $4.5M from I-66 Commuter Choice to construct a second entrance at Ballston-MU Station that will improve access to transit and support continued redevelopment in the area.” [Twitter]
More Whinos on the Way? — “Whino is a 6,300-square-foot bar, restaurant, art gallery and entertainment venue on the second floor of Brookfield Properties’ Ballston Quarter. While it’s only a year old, founder Shane Pomajambo has big expansion plans for his budding brand.” [Washington Business Journal]
Honor for Local Catholic Newspaper — “The Catholic Herald was named the best diocesan newspaper in its class — one of 36 awards received at the annual Catholic Media Association conference in Portland July 4-7.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Today in Dubious Data — “A new survey suggests that Virginia residents have a clear preference for their milkshakes. Chocolate? Nope. Vanilla? Negative. Strawberry? Sorry, Charlie. According to a statistical analysis of Google search data, Virginians are most enraptured by peppermint milkshakes, according to new data from RTA Outdoor Living.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Monday — Clear throughout the day. High of 82 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:54 am and sunset at 8:36 pm. [Weather.gov]
An Arlington Little League team has made the state tournament, becoming one of few teams to have done so in Arlington history.
This past Fourth of July weekend, the Arlington Little League National 5070 All-Stars won the District 4 championship tournament, besting teams from across the region including Vienna and McLean. In Sunday’s championship game, the team of 14 players, ages 12 and 13 years old, defeated the Alexandria Little League All-Star team. They won by a score of 10 to 5.
The next step is the Virginia state tournament, to be held in Henrico just outside of Richmond, with their first game scheduled for this Friday. The coaches believe this is only the third team in Arlington Little League history to advance to states.
Both players and coaches told ARLnow that what made this team special was everyone’s dedication and buy-in.
“All 14 [players] bought into the team aspect of what’s best for the team as opposed to what’s best for them as an individual,” Manager Mark Nersasian told ARLnow. “We got contributions from top to bottom [of the roster].”
Thirteen-year-old Nate Moseley, who pitches and plays first base for the team and attends Dorothy Hamm Middle School, said that Nersasian and the other coaches often reiterate this concept.
“[The coaches] always tells us that we need players who play for the team name on the front, not the [last name] on the back,” he said.
That task was even more complicated by the fact the team has only been together for a few weeks. This is an all-star team, picked from more than 100 players across nine Arlington Little League teams. The team was selected, in large part, by their teammates and fellow Arlington Little Leaguers, with players voting on who they think should make up the squad. Coaches also contributed to the selection of the roster.
As expected, the players proved themselves to be some of the best ball players in Arlington. Assistant coach Keith Stone says the blended roster can sometimes be a challenge when dividing up playing time, but that wasn’t the case for this group of middle-school-aged athletes.
“Most of them were the best players on their regular team. They got brought to this [team] and they may only get to bat one time or barely get to play in the field. They all bought into the collective good for the team,” Stone said. “For 12 and 13-year-olds, that’s not always the easiest thing to do.”
This Arlington Little League team isn’t in the same age group as those that are on ESPN every year. This team is a little bit older, mostly comprised of 13-year-olds, as opposed to 10, 11, and 12-year-olds. Therefore, the Arlington Little League team plays on fields that are larger, have longer base paths, and pitch further away.
Dylan Stone, a shortstop and pitcher, has been playing baseball in Arlington since he was four years old. He’s now 13 and attends Williamsburg Middle School. What he loves most about playing in Arlington Little League is being able to “play with friends and the competition.”
The opening festivities are set to take place this Saturday from noon-3 p.m. at 3630 27th Street S. in Green Valley, down the street from Shirlington.
It will begin with a “mini-parade” featuring the Crossroads Riders Motorcycle Club and the Young Divas Dance Team, who recently performed at the opening of the John Robinson Jr. Town Square. The program will include remarks from Arlington County Board members and the Green Valley Civic Association, as well as a recognition of the park’s baseball history.
A number of the former semi-pro and amateur players who took their swings at Jennie Dean Park during the mid-20th Century will gather as well.
There will also be a ribbon cutting, a snow cone stand, food, music from JoGo Project, and a basketball tournament for teenagers, a county spokesperson tells ARLnow.
“Due to the projected weather forecast on Saturday with high temperatures in the mid-90s, a water fill station will be set up at the event with cold, filtered water,” the spokesperson noted.
The Shirlington Dog Park parking lot on the 2700 block of S. Oakland Street will be closed during the event, but the dog park itself will remain open.
More than two acres were added along with an updated, ADA-accessible playground that now has age-separated areas. The new restrooms are all-gender, in keeping with a county ordinance, and moved to the front of the park. The picnic shelter has a sustainable, green roof, which is next to renovated basketball and tennis courts.
The two baseball diamonds were moved out of the Four Mile Run floodplain and have new efficient LED lights. The fields are also now named after two long-time community stalwarts, Ernest Johnson and Robert Winkler.
The diamonds will also display pennants of historic Green Valley teams, designed in collaboration with the civic association, that played at the park over the last 70 years.
Along the sidewalks near the diamonds is a history walk, embedded with plaques marking significant moments in the park’s and neighborhood’s history.
There’s a new site-specific work of public art in the western portion of the park. Wheelhouse is a stainless steel multi-sectioned pavilion that “explores the industrial history of the Jennie Dean Park site through the lens of the great American pastime — baseball.”
The park is named after Jennie Serepta Dean, a formerly enslaved woman who opened the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth in the late 19th century.
It was initially set to reopen late last year, but permitting delays pushed it back a few months.
Up the hill from John F. Kennedy’s grave and behind Arlington House on the western side of Arlington National Cemetery lies the purported inventor of America’s pastime.
The former Union Army General Abner Doubleday is interred in section 1, laid to permanent rest there nearly 130 years ago. He’s one of more than a hundred Union generals that are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. While it’s his accomplishments during the Civil War that led him here, history remembers Doubleday much more for his perceived contributions to the game of baseball.
“I’m a big baseball fan. When I was growing up in the 1960s, the common view among the public was that this guy named Doubleday invented it,” says George Dodge, former Arlington Historical Society president and author of a book about the history of Arlington National Cemetery. “But that’s largely been completely discredited.”
Doubleday, a New York native, had a lifetime full of military experience. He was an officer in the Mexican War, fought in the Seminole War, and actually commended the gunners that fired the Civil War’s first shots at Fort Sumter. During the Civil War, he also saw action at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Bull Run, and Gettysburg.
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It was at Gettysburg where Doubleday was given command of the corps, when another general was killed in action, that helped to secure high ground. This ultimately led to the Union’s victory at the famed battle and likely turned the tide of the war.
“He has to be given some credit for that and I don’t think he does,” says Dodge.
After the war, he worked to help formerly enslaved people transition to a life of freedom, secure patents for San Francisco’s cable car system, and led a religious group devoted to spiritualism. Doubleday died in 1893 in New Jersey.
But before all of that, he apparently — according to legend — invented baseball.
The story goes that, while living in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839, a 20-year-old Doubleday drew a diamond in the dust and declared this was for a new game he called “base ball.” Along with a 1871 request for baseball-like equipment, this was enough proof for some that Doubleday invented baseball.
And, for the better part of the 20th century, this narrative existed — and, to some extent, still to this day.
Over the last several decades, however, historians have proven that Doubleday likely didn’t invent baseball.
The tale of him drawing a diamond in the dust was only first recounted via letter in 1905, more than 60 years after the fact, to the Mills Commission, a group that had been tasked to determine the origins of the great American game of baseball.
The letter was written by a man named Abner Graves who claimed he was there that day, but Graves would have only been 5 years old at the time. Additionally, it was unlikely that Doubleday was even in Cooperstown at the time. He was a cadet at West Point in 1839 and, even if he had returned home to see family, his family had moved to another village.
“They were looking for even the flimsiest of proof that [baseball] originated here in the United States,” says Dodge.
The more likely reason that this myth exists is that Doubleday represented a home run candidate — a respected Union Army general buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Columbus Day Closures — “Most Arlington Transit routes are closed, with the exception of routes 42, 45, 51, 55, 77 and 87, which will run on Saturday schedules. Parking meters won’t be enforced, but all other parking violations will be. The public schools will not hold classes; it’s a professional learning day for staff. Government offices and the public library are open.” [WTOP]
Local Yard Sale Funds Acts of Kindness — “Susan Thompson-Gaines is like a fairy godmother who magically appeared in Marjorie Gonzales’ life to help her conjure up a dress for the ball. ‘Just came out of nowhere,’ said Gonzales, who was in need of a homecoming dress… Thompson-Gaines uses every penny of her profits — more than $12,000 this year — to fund random acts of kindness throughout her community.” [CBS News, InspireMore]
Proposal for Better W-L Baseball Field — “This fall, Healy is working with director of student activities Carol Callaway on a project proposal that they hope to present to county officials in the coming weeks. His vision is of something similar to Waters Field, a multi-purpose artificial turf field that can host games for baseball and rectangular field sports and serves as a central hub in the Vienna community… ‘You could call it a total facelift,’ Healy said. ‘You name it, we need it. You can’t even stand up in the visitor dugout, and the press box is almost a safety hazard.'” [Nova Baseball Magazine]
GMU Groundbreaking Planned — “GMU plans to break ground on the nearly $250 million expansion of its Arlington campus in January. The primary addition to the Virginia Square campus will be the 360,500-square-foot home for the Institute for Digital Innovation (IDIA), its tech research hub, and the coming School of Computing… Bethesda-based Clark Construction will serve as general contractor on the project, which is scheduled to be complete by April 2025, with students moving in by July of that year.” [Washington Business Journal]
Changes Planned for GMU Plaza –“The ‘stay-the-course’ proposal will aim to make the large plaza fronting Fairfax Drive a more useful gathering space, perhaps with a café attached, while potentially adding a mid-level connection between Smith and Van Metre Halls to effectively combine them as one. That was the vision outlined by Gregory Janks, who has led the 18-month planning process for the three main Mason campuses.” [Sun Gazette]
New Art at Central Library — “Arlington residents and Library patrons are in for a visual treat when entering the second floor at Central Library. The newly installed artwork titled ‘North Lincoln Street, Arlington, Virginia’ by Arlington artist Jason Horowitz, features a playful, 360-degree view of a re-imagined Ballston neighborhood landscape.” [Arlington Public Library]
Marymount 5K Race on Wednesday — “Marymount University Doctor of Physical Therapy program hosted the first Marymount 5K in the spring of 2015… Join us in 2021 for the sixth annual Marymount 5K supporting the DPT Program’s foundational pillars of Global Perspective, Service to Others, and Intellectual Curiosity.” [Marymount University]
Nearby: Shooting in Arlandria — From Alan Henney: “500 blk of Four Mile Rd off Mt. Vernon Ave in the City of Alexandria. 15 yr-old boy shot in stomach taken to a trauma center in serious condition. Several suspects fled the scene on foot.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Local Org Resettling Afghan Refugees — “Besides Lutheran Social Services, the [Arlington-based] Ethiopian Community Development Council, the International Rescue Committee, and Catholic Charities do a lot of work to resettle Afghan [Special Immigrant Visa] holders in this area. Christy McCaw of African Community Center DC Metro, the ECDC’s resettlement branch, says her organization needs leads on apartments that will rent to newcomers without proof of income.” [Washingtonian]
Broken Water Main Causes Pressure Problems — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services yesterday: “A crew is stabilizing a broken water main that has caused pressure issues in the vicinity of Campbell Elementary School along S. Carlin Springs Road. Pressure should be returning to normal within the hour. Traffic diverted around work site. The break is on a 20-inch main. Greatest impact of pressure loss along Carlin Springs Rd from Rt 50 south to Columbia Pike and near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and George Mason.” [Twitter]
New W-L History Marker Under Consideration — “Four years after the installation of a marker celebrating the history of Washington-Lee High School was scotched by leaders of the county school system, a proposed revised marker – honoring the school now known as Washington-Liberty – is wending its way through the development process.” [Sun Gazette]
Next Community Convo with Police Chief — “Join Chief Penn and members of ACPD at the next Community Conversations with the Chief to share your thoughts on the future of policing in Arlington! Our next conversation will take place on Friday from 10 AM to 12 PM at Metro 29 Diner located at 4711 Lee Highway.” [Twitter]
Huske Signs Sponsorship Deal — “2020 U.S. Olympic medalist [and Arlington resident] Torri Huske announced that she’s signed a swimwear deal with TYR on Friday, making her the third high-profile swimmer set to begin their freshman year of college to do so. Huske, 18, will join Stanford University in the upcoming collegiate season. Terms of the deal have not been made public.” [SwimSwam]
Youth Baseball Team’s Championship Run — “Overcoming four tournament losses, the 9-under Arlington Storm Black managed to finish second in the Babe Ruth World Series. The Storm lost in the ultimate title game of the baseball tournament in Jensen Beach, Fla., by a 7-3 score, to Florence, Ala. The meeting was the fourth between the teams in the competition. About 90 minutes earlier that same day, Arlington had previously routed Florence, 11-1, to force a playback game between the two teams in the championship round.” [Sun Gazette]
Reminder: N. Glebe Road Closure — “All lanes of N. Glebe Road between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road, in the northern tip of Arlington, [are now] closed for construction… The nine-day closure is the culmination of the $10 million rehabilitation project for the nearly 50-year-old bridge over Pimmit Run, just before Chain Bridge. Between Friday, Aug. 13 and Monday, Aug. 23, crews will work to replace the entire bridge deck and its underlying beams.” [ARLnow]
Mistargeted Alert Wakes Up Arlingtonians — Numerous Arlington residents from around the county erroneously received an emergency phone alert about a boil water advisory in Northeast D.C. around 2 a.m. Thursday morning. [Twitter]
Huske Talks About Olympic Experience — “By coming so close to winning an individual medal, then earning a second-place silver on a relay team, Torri Huske’s rated her recent swimming experience at the Summer Olympic Games as a success for the 2021 Yorktown High School graduate. ‘It was all a really good learning experience, and I took a lot away from the Games, like needing to work on the little things,’ Huske said. ‘The swimming was different that anything I had been to before because it was spread out over nine or 10 days. I’m very thankful for what I got to do.'” [Sun Gazette]
Amazon Pushes Back Office Return — “Amazon.com Inc. revised its back-to-office timeline again and told employees it wouldn’t resume regular in-person work until Jan. 3, according to an internal message viewed by the Business Journal. The company had set Sept. 7 as the official return date, after announcing it expected employees to be in the office at least three days per week.” [Washington Business Journal]
Youth Baseball Team in Nat’l Championship — “I write to congratulate our 9YO Arlington Storm Black team on finishing runner-up in the Cal Ripken World Series! No team in [Arlington Babe Ruth’s] 36-year history has had as successful a season… We could not be prouder.” [Twitter]
ACPD Again Holding Community Police Academy — “The Arlington County Police Department is now accepting applications for the 25th Community Police Academy (CPA), formerly the Citizen’s Police Academy. The CPA is an educational program designed to create better understanding and communication between police and the community they serve.” [ACPD]
The team, dubbed the Arlington Storm, is headed to Florida’s Treasure Coast today (Wednesday) to compete for the national title. The trip comes after winning the Virginia state championship and the Babe Ruth Southeast Regional Championship last week in Snow Hill, North Carolina.
“We’ve got some really good ball players, [and] they’re becoming really good teammates, most importantly,” said team captain Jeff Groharing, who is an attorney with the Department of Justice by day, and a baseball coach by morning (practice starts at 7:30 a.m. daily).
The boys will face several other teams from across the country in a series of games leading up to the championship on Thursday, Aug. 5.
“I’m burning up all my leave, but there’s no better way to spend it,” said Groharing, who says the kids have been having a whirlwind of a time since they won regionals.
After their victories the team received encouragement from Rep. Don Beyer and even visited the U.S. Capitol and met with Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.
“Getting attention from the Senators is neat for the boys,” Groharing said. “Both Senators Warner and Kaine seemed to enjoy spending time with the boys as well.”
Congratulations to Arlington's @arlstorm @ABRarlingtonBB Babe Ruth League all-stars, who became district champs, state champs, southeast regional champs, and now get to go to the Cal Ripken World Series, the farthest an Arlington team has ever advanced! We're rooting for you! pic.twitter.com/4d0D1jVf6R
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) July 20, 2021
Groharing started coaching the team when his son, who is on the team, was 7. He says parents love sending their kids to practice because they start their days early and learn values, such as teamwork and discipline.
“I don’t think they realize how much of an accomplishment it is for them to get it this far,” he said.
Arlington was well-represented down in Florida last weekend by another youth sports team. The Arlington Soccer Association’s team of 15-year-old boys won the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships on Sunday, and three players received individual awards, we are told.
Arlington County is asking residents how and when they use athletic fields.
The County’s Public Spaces Master Plan, adopted in April 2019, calls for a public survey every five years to garner feedback to determine how and when Arlingtonians use the available athletic fields.
The collected data will be used to update the permit process, availability of fields, and who has access when.
“We have a finite amount of park spaces,” Jerry Solomon, Community Engagement Manager for the Department of Parks and Recreation, writes to ARLnow in an email. “Our goal is to ensure we are using them as efficiently and effectively as possible. We need to determine if we are offering field spaces at times that people can best access them.”
Fields for adult soccer leagues, for example, are most needed outside of typical working hours. Baseball diamonds for Little League should be accessible when the players are, like on weekends or after school.
This survey will help make sure this is the case, plus provide additional data that may not be as self-explanatory.
The survey specifically asks about activity start and end times for different age groups as well, like if kids 9 and youngers should end their field use prior sundown on weekdays and who should have access to lighted fields.
In total, Arlington has 96 athletic fields — a mix of rectangular fields (35), diamond fields (42), and a combination of the two (19). That can be further broken down into lighted (37) and not lighted fields (59) as well as natural grass (80) and synthetic turf fields (16).
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the fields that have the most use on an individual basis are the lighted, synthetic turf fields. On average, each one of those fields gets more than 2,100 hours of play per year. This is compared to an average of 700 hours per non-lighted, natural grass field.
For years, which fields got lights has been a source of community contention.
Athletic field use in Arlington is often not a free-for-all or on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nearly all of the fields are either only accessible to permit holders or priority is given to permit holders.
Only six of the 96 athletic fields in Arlington are available as drop-in fields, or “community fields.” Even those, though, can be reserved for scheduled programs or practices.
That has drawn the ire of some residents, like those who live near Pentagon City and want to see one or both of the softball diamonds at Virginia Highlands Park opened up for community use.
There’s even a tiered priority system for the allocation of permits, which was first recommended in 2016 due to an “inequity” that existed in how fields were allocated.
Arlington Public Schools are given first priority, then county-organized non-profit youth sport leagues, then adult leagues, then for-profit sports leagues, and, finally, individual rentals or other organizations.
All of this, plus Arlington’s growing population, is resulting in heavy use and demand for athletic fields. According to the PSMP, the county could need an additional 11 rectangular and 2 diamond fields by 2035 to maintain the current levels of use and access.
The hope is that the survey and public feedback will allow for better, more efficient, and more fair use of the limited field space.
This survey will be open until the end of the month, says Solomon, at which point DPR will review and report findings to the Public Spaces Master Plan Implementation Committee in the spring.
There could be more opportunities to provide feedback come the spring and summer, Solomon noted.
Free T-Ball This Spring — “Arlington Babe Ruth (ABR) is now offering free T-Ball to boys and girls ages 4-6. ABR recognizes that young players will try multiple sports in order to see what sticks, so we’ve eliminated registration fees for the youngest players. The free ABR Blastball and T-Ball programs are excellent ways to introduce boys and girls to baseball, using simple drills, a soft ball and lightweight bats, and a fun-oriented approach that teaches the rules while building enjoyment for the game.” [Arlington Babe Ruth]
Most-Read Arlington Library Books — “These are the books Arlington readers turned to the most in 2020. Unsurprisingly, many top fiction titles were part of a series, and many top nonfiction titles reflect a yearning for social justice and a desire for human connection.” [Arlington Public Library]
Virtual Meetings Lead to More Participation — “The Electoral Board was actually in the midst of conducting a meeting in March when the county government began battening the hatches and closing facilities while the COVID crisis was taking hold. Its meetings since then have been conducted on an electronic platform. There is a plus side to that. ‘Attendance has certainly increased – it has more than tripled,’ county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.” [InsideNova]
GW Parkway Lane Change — “Years of side-swiping, rear-ending and near misses have prompted traffic pattern changes to crash-prone sections of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Interstate 395. Northbound traffic on the George Washington Parkway is permanently narrowed into a single lane at the crosswalk near Memorial Bridge.” [WTOP]
New Year Video from Arlington Children’s Chorus — “Watch this video of a song we wrote and performed that we did to bring some good cheer to the local community this holiday season… After all our festive activities were cancelled, writing a song trying to capture a little bit of the spirit of the season was a way to let our children’s voices be heard. It’s been amazing how much joy has blossomed from such a difficult situation!” [YouTube]
Distinction for Arlington Biotech Firm — “[Arlington-based] Kerecis is the fastest growing company in the regenerative-tissue market in the United States according to SmartTRAK Business Intelligence, which compared industry-sales and market-share data for 3Q 2020 to 3Q 2019.” [Kerecis]