Arson fire 90 years ago leads to MLB in Seattle

There are a few degrees of separation, but the Seattle Mariners were ignited by a real spark.

SEATTLE – If we told you that the Seattle Mariners were ignited by a real spark, would you know the story?

If we told you that a fanbase’s fire is rooted in actual fire, who do you have to thank?

You have to go back 90 years to July 4, 1932.

“I don’t think many people are aware of that,” said Seattle baseball historian Dave Eskenazi. “The further back you go the more interesting it gets and Dugdale is certainly a big, big part of our early baseball history.”

Dugdale was both a person and a park.

Daniel Dugdale was a former Midwestern professional baseball player.

He came to the Northwest in 1898 for the Klondike Gold Rush; he got rich from real estate in Seattle; and he built a ballpark for the minor league Seattle Indians.

The stadium was both a cathedral and an impending disaster.

“On July 4, 1932, after a double whammy at the stadium, around midnight, calls came in about a fire at the stadium,” Eskenazi said. “(It) turned out to be a three-alarm fire that burned it down. They thought it might be a stray cigarette. They thought it might be the 4th of July fireworks that went wrong and caused it. She didn’t find out until three years later that it was actually arson. His name was Robert Bruce Driscoll.”

Driscoll aimed at America’s past, at America’s day, perhaps because of an unfulfilled American dream.

“He felt crushed by the world,” Eskenazi said. “He was unemployed, he was homeless, he slept in boxcars.”

According to fire department records, Driscoll confessed to over 140 fires in Seattle and said he did so “because of my destitute circumstances and because I’ve hurt the world in general.”

“Driscoll used some of these discarded programs that he found outside the stadium along with some wood and kindling to start the fire,” Eskenazi said.

But Driscoll didn’t just start a fire. He started a series of events that led to Major League Baseball (MLB) coming to Seattle.

“You can argue that the Dugdale Park fire changed our baseball history for the better,” Eskenazi said. “Not at first, because the Seattle Indians then had to play their games at Civic Field, which wasn’t even a baseball park, and Dugdale Park burned down. This was home to the Seattle Rainiers, who were one of the most successful and popular minor league teams in history.”

Her success was converted into a consolation prize and then into the ultimate prize.

“Without the Seattle Rainiers, we might never have had the Seattle Pilots, the first major league team in 1969,” Eskenazi said. “Which led straight to the Seattle Mariners.”

The tragedy of one generation led to the triumph of another generation.

“There’s a consistent line and thread where we might not have had Major League Baseball if Dugdale Park hadn’t burned down,” Eskenazi said. Arson fire 90 years ago leads to MLB in Seattle

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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