The Original Nationals

When the Montreal Expos relocated the nation’s capital in 2005, after narrowly surviving a contraction bid along with the Minnesota Twins, a host of names were considered for the city’s newest franchise. Among the first to be tossed around was the “Washington Senators,” the most prominent nickname of the American League team that called D.C. home from the turn of the century all the way up until 1960. The name “Senators,” however, proved both controversial and unattainable. Some local politicians in the Washington area objected to the name because the District of Columbia does not have a vote in the Senate, believing such a name would be technically incorrect and ultimately misleading. Official ownership rights to the name “Senators” was perhaps the biggest hurdle, as the Texas Rangers, known as the Senators prior to their western relocation, still retained the rights to the name. While Major League Baseball inquired as to the rights of purchasing the name, negotiations were unsuccessful. Instead, fans and decision makers dug deeper into baseball history, where they soon found the Washington Nationals, a less storied National League team that took the field from 1886 to 1889.The name Nationals had been used in several instances prior to the 1886, first in 1982, when a team dubbed the Nationals took the field as part of the National Association, a league predating what we now know as Major League Baseball. New versions of the Nationals appeared on 3 other separate occasions, when new Nationals joined the National Association in 1975, a 3rd Nationals squad played as part of the Union Association in 1884, and yet another Nationals team joined the American Association that same year. The National League Nationals were the longest tenured club bearing the current franchise banner, with striking similarities in on-field performance as well. In their 4 year existence, the team won at just a .326 clip, enduring 6 different managers. Yes, the Washington Nationals have a history many fans are unaware of, unfortunately for the Nationals faithful, the losing legacy is more of the same.

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