As the fall colors emerge, so too do the colorful jerseys and foam fingers of football and baseball fans on Capitol Hill.
And as sure as the seasons change, fans will flock to the same watering holes in search of the camaraderie, and on occasion, rivalry, of other sports fans.
For baseball fans, October marks the beginning of the division playoffs, when deep-seated rivalries rear their ugly head. Luckily for Boston Red Sox fans, the bars on the Hill are on their side. The Pour House (319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE), Finn mac Cool’s (713 Eighth St. SE), The Flying Scotsman (233 Second St. NW) and Kelly’s Irish Times (14 F St. NW) all pledge allegiance to the Red Sox nation. New York Yankee hats are few and far between and “Sweet Caroline” is all but guaranteed to play on the jukebox in the middle of the eighth inning.
What’s more difficult to find is how exactly New England athletics became so popular in Washington, D.C., a city that already had a professional football team, a new Major League Baseball team and more professional athletics just up the road in Baltimore.
With Capitol Hill so crowded with Red Sox bars, we’d like to know where all the other baseball fans have gone.
But while the baseball season is counting down, action on the gridiron is just getting started. So if baseball isn’t action-packed enough for you, there also are a number of bars on the Hill that host football brunches and fan get-togethers.
At Bullfeathers (410 First St. SE), owner Stratton Liapis denies any sport affiliation of the bar.
“We’re a political bar,” Liapis said.
But he did admit that on Saturday afternoons you can find Alabama and LSU fans cheering on their teams at the bar.
My Brother’s Place (237 Second St. NW) loves Texas, and offers a brunch on Saturdays with a discounted food and drink menu. Upstairs on the projection-screen TV, you’re guaranteed to watch a Texas game, whether it’s the Texas A&M Aggies, University of Texas Longhorns or the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Downstairs on Saturdays, the eight TVs are programmed on a first-come, first-served basis. The football brunch starts an hour before the first game of the day, which usually means the doors to My Brother’s Place open around noon for college football game day.
Not a Texas fan? No problem.
Every Saturday, Union Pub (201 Massachusetts Ave. NW) hosts between 200 and 300 University of Nebraska Cornhusker fans.
Manager Libby Darby owes this tradition to the Union Pub’s previous moniker, the Red River Grill.
“It’s just always been very much a Nebraska bar,” she said.
On Sundays and Mondays during the NFL season, the Union Pub shows every game on its nine TVs and offers drink specials.
If you’re a Michigan, Washington State or Wisconsin fan, head over to the Pour House (319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) for football action on Saturdays.
The walls are practically lined with televisions — there’s not a bad seat in the house.
Pour House’s loyalty extends to professional sports, too: While the Pour House is taking a turn toward being a “New England sports team” bar, its roots definitely were elsewhere before the bar changed hands.
Bartender Gerry Mulholland reminisced, “The previous owner was a mad Pittsburgh Steelers fan.”
Now, though, the Steelers memorabilia is blocked by numerous televisions, gathering dust and all but forgotten, as New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox fans pile in to watch their teams win (or in the case of Tuesday night, lose miserably).
Finn mac Cool’s, also on the Red Sox bandwagon, shows nearly every game on its big-screen TV and smaller TVs throughout the spacious, Irish bar.
“Right now we’re very much a New England bar,” said manager Elliot Wright.
He attributed the bar’s loyalty to owner Michael Collins’ Irish roots and Boston upbringing.
Aside from the Pats and the Sox, Wright also sees a lot of fans for local teams come in to Finn mac Cool’s, cheering on the Redskins and the University of Maryland.
If you still haven’t found your sport-watching niche, maybe it’s time to try Mr. Henry’s (601 Pennsylvania Ave. SE), where they don’t even have TVs — the perfect way to escape, while others embrace, the fall sports season.