Along the same lines, “too good to be true” is a popular, along with “real baseball at last,” “up past midnight to watch,” “it’s been so long” and “I just love this team.” And then there’s a personal favorite: “We may delay honeymoon until after Nats are out of playoffs.”
There is, however, another entire strain of happiness that has caught me by surprise. There is a middle generation that never saw either version of the old Senators but is overjoyed to share this new winning Washington Nationals experience with both their parents and their own kids. It’s as though the 25-to-50 bunch sees itself as a natural link between those who lost the team(s) of their youth and their own kids who now have a home team worth loving to bond with from the beginning.
Finally, there is an unexpected refrain that greets me daily by e-mail: “I’m originally from X, so my favorite team has always been Y. But we’ve lived here for Z years, and we’ve fallen for the Nats. If Y ever meets the Nats in the Series, it’ll be a tough choice.”
But there is indisputably a significant portion of Nats fans who are men and women of “a certain age” who feel a direct connection with the last Senators team, either first-hand or through their parents. And for these people, like me, the mixture of emotions is powerful and literally spans a lifetime.
I started fetching coffee in The WashingtonPost’s sports department in 1969 at age 21. Next month, I’ll turn 65, supposedly some symbol of approaching old age. So, yes, this baseball in D.C. thing really has absorbed my adult lifetime.
In those first two years at The Post, I got a bug’s-eye view of a town losing a local institution, born in 1901, that every single person in the city thought would never leave to stay. My vantage point was up close and far too personal. I sat within 20 feet of lifelong baseball writers Shirley Povich, Bob Addie and George Minot and watched them, day after day, report out a story so crass and destructive that even they, with more than 100 years in the business among them, could hardly believe that “it” was happening again.
Washington was going to be blamed for losing a franchise due to non-support when the real driving reasons — not 100 percent, but much more than half — had nothing to do with Washington at all.
The Senators left after the 1960 season because owner Calvin Griffith saw a chance to make a lot of money in Minneapolis after his family had merely made enough money in Washington for two generations. Also, Griffith was a racist and wanted to get away from “them.” At least that’s the reason he gave me on a bus ride to the World Series years later when he didn’t know I was a baseball reporter. By then he was just a shrunken, evil old coot. All I had to do was say “Washington,” and he let the racial hostility gush out.