In the video, Martha Washington is seen waving to the crowd and throwing a baseball to a man wearing some sort of mask, perhaps for protection or something, crouching behind what is called “home plate.” According to Wikipedia, this is called “throwing out the first pitch,” and is a common ceremonial opening to a baseball match.
Then, the man removes his mask and approaches Mrs. Washington, who, after a few seconds, recognizes the man as her husband, General George Washington, and rushes to hug him, drawing much more applause and cheers from the crowed. There is no date provided in the video, and it is unknown who recorded it.
And it’s that missing timestamp that has some historians questioning the video.
“I have no issue whatsoever with the fact that Washington surprised Martha with his homecoming,” said noted Washington biographer Andrew Webber. “It makes sense that he would do something like that at a major sporting event, and it’s likely that he was the first returning soldier to do so. My problem with the video is just that there is no time or date stamp on it, and no one has confirmed its origin.”
Webber said in all his research, he never found any mention of Washington attending any baseball games, but doesn’t find that out of the ordinary. “Of what little I know about baseball, I do know that the record keeping and historical accounts of the matches were subpar up until just after the Civil War. From what I’ve read, it seems that there is actually no mention at all of what is commonly called today the ‘American League’ until right after the turn of the last century. So it doesn’t surprise me that there is no other account of this incident besides this video.”
Webber said he has started a book about the video, which would be his ninth about Washington. He said he expects to finish the book by next spring, and is “more than fairly certain” he will confirm the origins of the video, and hopes “the descendant or descendants of whomever recorded the video are still around, and can shed some light on the clip.”