We may wonder what the unidentified photographer for this view of Sick's Stadium was doing shooting the south parking lot...

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We may wonder what the unidentified photographer for this view of Sick’s Stadium was doing shooting the south parking lot on this auspicious June 15, 1938, the opening day for the Seattle Rainiers’ new ballpark. Perhaps the lines of the mostly ’30s-model motorcars are pleasing enough. Also, the ballpark was rushed to conclusion, and the earth grader and roller parked bottom-left suggest that the lot may have been finished earlier that Wednesday.

I showed this photograph to Fred Kruger, a friend and car collector, who made a wise observation: “With the war on the horizon, a photo taken for a game six years later would probably have shown many of the same exact cars.”

Wondering next how many of these autos might be dinged by home runs clearing that right-field fence at 325 feet from home plate, I asked local baseball historian Dave Eskenazi and got another insight: “The Rainiers actually had very few classic power hitters through the glory days of three straight pennants (1939-41). What they did have was great pitching, speed and defense, which wins a lot more baseball games than the majestic four-bagger ever did.”

This brings up the subject of former Seattle Mariner Alex Rodriguez. Since joining them in 2004, Eskenazi notes, the Yankees have won no World Series. Still, from his salary alone, Rodriguez makes about $40,000 every time he goes to bat, whether his powerful swing connects or not.

Eskenazi compares this to Bill Schuster, the Rainiers’ star shortstop during their championship year of 1940. The infielder took home $400 a month and not once did he dent a car. Schuster was not a power hitter. Curiously, he did have a New York nickname, “Broadway Bill.”

“Washington Then and Now,” by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, can be purchased through Tartu Publications at P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.