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Baseball back on top in Washington

October 15, 2012
James P. Whipple , Shepherdstown Chronicle

A Washington baseball team its first play off game in 79 years. The Nationals beat the Card's 3 to 2 in a nail biting game. As I sat there watching, I thought of all the baseball games I have been to in my lifetime. Until this season, the closest I have ever come to seeing a winning baseball team in Washington was with the second set of Senators that finished the 1968 season one game above 500. That team was managed by a long time Boston player named Ted Williams.

There have been two earlier baseball teams that have played as the Washington Senators

There was an American League baseball team who played in Washington from 1901 to 1960. Calvin Griffith owned that team. The last time that team won the pennant was in 1933. The team lost the World Series that year.

The team moved on to Minneapolis-St. Paul in 1961 and became the Minnesota Twins. Soon after leaving Washington, they started to win.

In 1961, another American League baseball team came to Washington as an expansion team. That team played from 1961 to 1971. The team was owned by Bob Short who promised to always keep the club in Washington. This promise lasted 10 years. After the '71 season. the team moved to Arlington Texas and became the Texas Rangers.

At one point George W. Bush, who went on to bigger things, owned the team.

The last game for the second set of Washington Senators was played in September 1971 at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. The Senators were to play the New York Yankees in the last home game of the season. The New York Yankees game was never finished. Somewhere in the fifth or six inning the fans started pouring out of the stands. The rushed the field and started taking whatever they could grab for souvenirs. Soon all three bases were gone and some fans were trying to dig up home plate. A forfeit was declared in favor of the Yankees.

There was no baseball in Washington for the next 34 years. Most fans went to Baltimore Orioles games or didn't follow baseball at all. I was one of those who went to Baltimore. I love watching a good ball game.

In 2004 it was announced that the Montreal Expos were going to move to Washington and become a national league team known as the Washington Nationals. The team would play at the old RFK Stadium. In 2008 the team moved to a new stadium along the Potomac River in Southwest Washington, not far from the U.S. Capitol. The name of the new stadium is National Park.

I have been to all three parks. First there was Griffith Stadium. In 1961 the D.C. Stadium opened. This park became known as Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in 1968 after the assassination of Kennedy. Out of all of the parks, I have to admit that I liked RFK for baseball. I remember that in the 80s, Washington had one of its best players. His name was Frank Howard. He stood 6' 7" tall and weighed around 250 pounds. For a big man he was fast and agile. He was a great home run hitter and once hit a baseball into the upper deck at RFK. For years the seat was marked in remembrance of his homer.

I played baseball, watched baseball and when I was young would even take the bat and glove to bed. It is fun to watch a baseball team in Washington win. It is about time as I'm not getting any younger.

 
 

 

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