The District’s Dave Thomas Circle, originally named after the founder of Wendy’s, which once operated in that exact area, is in the process of getting a new look and name. The public has spoken, and voted to rename the infamous intersection after baseball legend, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, the first woman to pitch in the Negro Leagues.
Located in D.C.’s NoMa neighborhood (north of Massachusetts Avenue), the circle intersects at First Street, Florida Avenue and New York Avenue Northeast.
Only one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues, Johnson is not only barrier-breaking to baseball, but was a D.C. icon, which is why NoMa’s Business Improvement District (BID), solicited names from the public, and the baseballer got 40% of the 4,300 votes.
A native of South Carolina, Johnson moved to D.C. at age 11. Standing only 5 ‘3 and weighing in at less than 100 pounds, Johnson was small, but had a pitching arsenal including a strong fastball and a curveball that pitching legend Satchel Paige helped her develop. She earned her nickname when an opposing batter claimed that he wasn’t afraid of her and that she was “no bigger than a peanut,” just before striking him out.
Johnson passed away at the age of 82 in D.C. following decades of service at Sibley Hospital.
Legislation to change the name will soon be introduced by the D.C. Council.
With the new name comes renovation for the circle, including adding two-way traffic on First Street and Florida Avenue, along with bike lanes and other measures to improve pedestrian and traffic safety.