Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
The mayhem of the Washington Senators' last game at RFK Stadium -- in which screaming fans rushed the field, forcing the team to forfeit its last contest before owner Robert Short moved the team to Arlington, Tex. -- was a dark ending for one of baseball's most forlorn and storied franchises. An excerpt from The Post of Oct. 1, 1971:
The Washington Senators' 71-year-old life ended one out too soon.In the top of the ninth last night -- with the Senators leading 7 to 5 and two out -- several hundred youths in the yelling crowd of 14,460 surged onto the playing field at R.F. Kennedy Stadium. They ran the bases and stole home, tore out tufts of grass, grabbed the ball boys' folding chairs and pinched dirt for their jacket pockets.
When first base was lifted and carried away, you could tell it was all over. And so, the final irony: the fans lost the game for the Senators, who had to forfeit their last contest here to the Yankees.
No one on the field cared, nor did those fans who watched smilingly from their seats. The huge banks of lights dimmed out one by one. Police started herding the crowd back into the stands. Three men were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
Two groundskeepers lifted their shovels under police guard to dig up the pitching rubber. Four other officers stood over home plate. One of them said, "They just told us to guard home plate." He didn't say for what.
And so ended one of the rowdiest wakes ever. The crowd was noisy and wild from the beginning. They came on a muggy, windy night to say goodbye to the Texas-bound Senators, who in their lifetime lost far more than they won.
The crowd came with a jovial camaraderie for one another and their departing team -- an emotion born out of their dislike for Robert Short, the owner who made it possible for them to never, ever see another Washington Senators game here.
One woman wore a black mourning arm band over her raincoat sleeve ("I don't know what I'm going to do without them") and a 14-year-old boy wept as he lugged a styrofoam dummy of Short around the stands with him.
Mostly the crowd was jovially optimistic. From an aging vendor to a 7-year-old boy with his front teeth missing, the cry was "we'll get some team here -- maybe the San Diego Padres -- by next year." ...
During the game, as a "Short Stinks" sign was draped down from the far-off bleachers, a whole block of fans looking from across the field stood up and gave the sign a standing ovation. Others said, "We've been Short changed." Another long one said, "Good luck Senators, we are sure gonna miss you. We love you (signed) Kay and Karen." ...
Fighting back his tears, Larry McGreevy, said "me and my mother" made a Short dummy because "he's mean. I been to about 40 games this year. I've been coming out here 'most all my life." Larry McGreevy is 14. ...
Less than an hour after the game had ended, groundskeepers were taking up the left field turf to make way for two new sections of stands for the football season.