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From Olympics to Nationals to Statesmen to Senators

In November 1960, the new Washington Senators were bought by 10 local businessmen for $3 million. They were just as bad as the old Senators, losing 100 games or more their first four seasons and never finishing higher than sixth in the 10-team AL.

In December 1968, the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, Bob Short, bought the team and soon after hired baseball great Ted Williams as the manager. Under Williams the team was a bit better, but still finished no better than fourth in his three seasons in Washington.


Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith shows pitchers Chuck Stobbs, center, Bob Porterfield how he gripped the ball when he used to pitch for the Yankees, Cubs, White Sox. (1953 AP Photo)


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In 1969, Williams led the team to its only winning season (86-76) in Washington, but after two more second-division finishes, Short moved the team to Arlington, Tex.

The Senators had been such a failure that during his three weeks in Washington, Bavasi, the Padres former GM, was advised by fans, politicians and the media to "do the direct opposite of what the Senators had been doing and we should be fine."

In trying to find a fan base for the relocated Padres, Bavasi asked a former Senators executive for a list of season ticket holders. The executive chuckled, and then told Bavasi to look in a file cabinet hidden in a storage room in the deepest, darkest part of RFK Stadium.

"I did find that file and after scanning it I know why Joe had chuckled," Bavasi wrote. "The paid season ticket list was less by half than the complimentary ticket list."

Tom Holster, former president of the Washington Baseball Historical Society, said he remembers being able to walk up to Griffith Stadium and buy seats near the field. But he said Washingtonians shouldn't be blamed for not showing up.

"Considering the quality of play on the field, I think we did pretty well," Holster said.

A small, but dedicated group of fans remained angry at Short for several years.

"I was devastated," Holster said. "For about three, four years I was a rabid fan. I think my parents thought I was nuts."

Danzansky never lost hope he could return baseball to his home town. He was so certain he would find another team to play in Washington, he gave his camel-hair winter coat to Bavasi, who had borrowed the garment during his stay in D.C., and sent along the following note: "Peter, keep this coat, you'll need it when you come back east to run our club some day."

Bavasi recalls that Danzansky was half right.

"I did need that coat," Bavasi wrote. "A few years later I signed on as president of the expansion Toronto Blue Jays."

Washington remained without a team for 33 years.


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