History of Washington, D.C. professional baseball
Washington, DC has been home to over a dozen baseball organizations since 1872 and is currently represented by the Washington Nationals.
The Early Years: 1872-1899
The first professional baseball teams and leagues formed in the late 19th century and several were based in Washington, DC. Many early teams used the names "Nationals" and "Senators" but were otherwise unrelated organizations.
- The National Association Washington Olympics (1871-1872)
- The National Association Washington Nationals (1872)
- The National Association Washington Blue Legs (1873)
- The National Association Washington Nationals (1875)
- The Union Association Washington Nationals (1884)
- The American Association Washington Nationals (1884)
- The National League Washington Nationals (1886–1889)
- The National League Washington Senators (1891–1899)
"First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League": 1901-1971
Washington was continuously home to a major league baseball team from 1901 until 1971. Two separate franchises alternated between the nicknames "Senators" and "Nationals" and sometimes used the names interchangeably.
- The American League Washington Nationals/Senators (1901-1960): The team was officially named the "Nationals" until 1956 but was commonly referred to as the "Senators" beginning in 1905. In 1961, this team moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul and became the Minnesota Twins.
- The American League Washington Senators (1961-1971): This expansion team began play in Washington immediately following the departure of the former franchise. In 1972, this team moved to Dallas-Fort Worth and became the Texas Rangers.
Since the expansion franchise began play the year immediately after the original franchise's final year in Washington, and because they both used the same nickname, the teams are commonly confused or combined and photographs are often dated based on player uniforms. The original club used dark blue as its primary color, with a thick, sans-serif, red or white block "W" on it caps. The expansion club mainly used caps with a stylized cursive "W," first in blue with a red letter (1963–1967), then in red with a white letter (1968–1971), similar to current Washington Nationals. In 1961–1962, the expansion Senators wore dark blue caps with a sans-serif block "W" outlined in white, nearly identical to the caps of the original Senators save for a red button at the top of the cap. Varying shades of the Senators' red, white and blue colors are still used by their successor teams in Minnesota and Texas.
Two other teams also competed in Washington during this time period.
- The United States Baseball League Washington Senators (1912): This club was unrelated to the American League team and the new league folded after one month of operation.
- The Negro National League Homestead Grays (1930-1948): Though officially based on Homestead, Pennsylvania, this club played many of its games in Washington and were informally known as the "Washington Homestead Grays." When baseball returned to Washington in 2005, "Grays" was one of the three finalists for the team's nickname.
The Return: 2005-Present
Major league baseball returned to Washington in 2005 after a 33-year absence.
- The National League Washington Nationals (2005–Present): The Montreal Expos, under the ownership of major league baseball, were relocated to Washington and sold to a new ownership group.
The Nationals adopted similar colors to 1968-1972 Senators adding gold accents to a tilted version of the expansion Senators cursive "W" logo. In 2012, the Nationals were NL East Division Champions and brought postseason baseball to Washington D.C. for the first time in 79 years. In 2014, the Washington Nationals won their second NL East Division Championship in 3 years after defeating the Atlanta Braves 3-0 on September 16, 2014. In the NLDS of the same year, the Nationals would lose to the San Francisco Giants, who would go on to win the World Series.
- Fleming, Frank. "Sports Encyclopedia". Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- Creamer, Chris. "Sports Logos". Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- Haerle, Rudolf K. "The United States Baseball League of 1912: A Case Study of Organizational Failure" (PDF). Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- Associated Press (22 November 2004). "In Washington, it'll be 'Let's go Nats'". USA Today. Retrieved 8 October 2012.