Oct 13, 2023 - News

Dave Thomas Circle renamed after Black baseball trailblazer

Mamie "Peanut" Johnson is photographed at a D.C. ball field named after her in 2013

Mamie "Peanut" Johnson in 2013 at a ball field named after her. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Out: Dave Thomas Circle. In: Mamie "Peanut" Johnson Plaza.

Driving the news: The traffic intersection in Northeast under transformation — aka the automobile moshpit where New York and Florida avenues meet — has a new name honoring an African American baseball trailblazer.

Why it matters: Johnson was the first woman to ever pitch in the Negro League and was a longtime Washington resident.

Zoom in: Johnson played in the 1950s with men on the Indianapolis Clowns, per the Washington Post.

  • At 5-foot-4 and 120 pounds, her size "earned her nickname after an unfriendly opponent observed that, when she stood on the mound, she looked no bigger than a peanut," the Post reports.
  • She struck out the batter, she told the paper.
  • Johnson died in 2017 at 82 years old.

The renaming was decided by 4,300 voters and Johnson's name won with 40%.

The big picture: A $41 million makeover of the intersection began in July, with the demolition of the Wendy's. The circle was unofficially named after the chain's founder.

Details: District officials say the new intersection will:

  • Realign and add two-way traffic to First Street NE.
  • Restore two-way traffic on Florida Avenue NE.
  • Include protected bicycle lanes and three new public park spaces.

The new public park spaces are being designed by a landscape architect firm and will be in front of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in the Wendy's space and in front of the Peoples Building.


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