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History of the Clark Griffith League
Founded in 1945, the Clark C. Griffith Collegiate Baseball League was originally known as the National Capital City Junior League. In its early years, games were played in Washington, D.C., before large crowds of baseball fans on the Ellipse behind the White House.
Clark C. Griffith, owner of the Washington Senators, lent considerable support to amateur baseball in the Washington area and, in particular, to our League. In recognition of that support, the League was renamed the Clark C. Griffith Memorial Baseball League following his death in 1955.
In 1966, the League moved its home base to Northern Virginia. With the support of the Home Plate Club, access to playing fields was secured. From 1972-86, League games were played on the George Mason University (now Paul VI High School) baseball field on Route 50 in Fairfax. In 1987, the League moved to the South Lakes High School baseball field in Reston, but each current team plays on a field in its own local community.
The League further upgraded its program in 1993 as wood bats became required for use in competition. In addition, professional and college stadiums were rented for many games, and the League emphasized recruiting the very highest level of baseball talent available. The League also renamed itself the Clark C. Griffith Collegiate Baseball League.
The League is a charter affiliate of the All American Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA), founded in 1945 by the late Glenn L. Martin, and the League champion has competed in the AAABA National Tournament in Johnstown, Pa., each year. League representatives have won 10 AAABA titles, including five of the last six. Those national champions include Marx Jewelers (1947), Federal Storage (1956, 1960 and 1962), Reston Raiders (1986), Prince William Gators (1997) and Arlington Senators (1998-99, 2001-02). The League’s 10 AAABA titles places it third all-time as it trails only Baltimore (20) and New Orleans (12).
From 1986-95, the League also sent a representative to compete in a national postseason tournament sponsored by the National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF), with the Prince William Grays (1986) and Arlington Senators (1995) both winning NABF College Division championships. A league representative returned recently to the NABF tournament as the Bethesda Big Train placed third in 1999 and second in 2000.
In what may be a unique accomplishment for any amateur league, the two teams representing the League in 1986 both won national titles: Reston in the AAABA and Prince William in the NABF.
Joe Branzell, a scout with the Washington Senators and Texas Rangers organizations for more than 30 years, played a large role in the success the League has enjoyed. Branzell, who passed away in August 1997, led the Washington Boys Club and Federal Storage teams to League championships from 1951-62, and he guided Federal Storage to three AAABA titles. Branzell’s name will be associated with the League’s All-Star Game for eternity.
Thousands of young men who have played in the League have had successful baseball careers, both in college and beyond. Following is a list of young men who have competed in the League and then gone on to play professional baseball.