Three miles north of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, at the intersection of Greenmount Avenue and East 22nd Street, is St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church.
The church is forever tied to Baltimore baseball history as the place where former Oriole and baseball Hall of Famer John McGraw married his second wife, Blanche Sindall, on January 8, 1902.
St. Ann’s plays a prominent role in two of the latter chapters of my book Deadball, A Metaphysical Baseball Novel. However, in the interest of not spoiling the the story line, I will leave it at that. For those of you who already have read my book, here is a look at the church described in Deadball.
The Gothic-revival church is constructed of grey stone and white marble.
The church has two steeples, one soaring high above the church to the right of the front entrance and a second, of lesser height, behind and to the left of the entrance.
A pointed stone archway made of alternating blocks of marble and stone frames a set of red painted doors decorated with ornate iron hinges. A simple, yet elegant rose window, framed by a similar stone archway centered above the entrance adds an understated flourish to the front of the church.
The white plastic lettering of the church’s marquee sign next to the sidewalk announces that the church is “Anchored In Faith.”
The reference to “anchored” is a pun, for resting alongside the cornerstone to the right of the entrance way is a large, gold-painted, allegorical anchor once belonging to Captain William Kennedy.
Commander of the Baltimore clipper ship “The Wanderer,” Kennedy prayed for safe return when caught in a storm off the coast of Vera Cruz. He promised to build a church should his prayers be answered. They were, and Kennedy kept his promise, providing the land and money to build St. Ann’s. The good Captain is buried beneath the main floor of the church, along with his wife, both of whom died in 1873, the year the church was built.
Behind the church on East 22nd Street is the rectory.
Next door to the rectory is a three story tan brick row house with a first floor stone. It is the former home of Oriole Hall of Famer Joe Kelley.
Joe Kelley and several of McGraw’s teammates were in attendance at his wedding that day, including Wilbert Robinson, Willie Keeler, Steve Brodie, and Hughie Jennings.
In her memoir The Real McGraw, Blanche McGraw noted that St. Ann’s was overflowing with people for the 6 pm wedding, which was conducted by St. Ann’s Pastor, Father Cornelius Thomas, who himself was a big baseball fan.
A “church of baseball” or at least a “church with a baseball connection,” St. Ann’s can be visited on the web at anchoredinfaith.com.