they sound like the heart of a major league baseball team's batting order. They are the next best thing in the city that baseball forgot. They are the heart of the Washington Senators' Fan Club.

True, there is no team known as the Washington Senators.

In this marketing-oriented era of the nation's pastime, it is now understood that the best way to get a baseball team is to pretend you already have one. Hence, Washington area residents are purchasing season tickets and forming fan clubs before the first pitch is thrown.

Jake Quinn, an ardent fan club member, conceded it's difficult selling an empty dugout: "You can't call up and say, 'Hey, I'm Quinn with the Senators and we're signing up subscriptions for next season.' There is no next season, yet."

Still, 25 banks in the metropolitan area have chalked up nearly $1 million worth of season tickets purchased by corporations and fans on a contingency basis and placed in interest-bearing escrow accounts.

That amounts to 1,727 seats sold for an 81-game home season. If there is no season, they get their money back.

The campaign is aimed at pro baseball's team owners and Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, who will meet later this summer to determine whether baseball will add expansion teams and, if so, which cities will get them. There is also the possibility of purchasing an existing National League team and moving it here.

Washington is vying with eight other areas for an expansion club. Baseball's criteria for selecting a city are stable "multiple" ownership, fan support (at the park and in front of the TV) and local political support.

Washington's bid to bring back baseball, organizers concede, was a bush-league operation until recently. Now a benchload of bank executives, politicians and other community leaders is coming forward to work with the D.C. Commission on Baseball to wage a pro campaign.

And so are the folks they just call fans.

"The fan club," pronounced Malone, "is for the little guy that wants to volunteer to bring baseball back."

A 27-year-old Air Force staff sergeant and native Washingtonian, Malone watched a television feature on baseball expansion last fall and kept waiting for the part about Washington. Hearing no mention of it, Malone convulsed in anguish, grabbed his phone and dictated a classified ad in The Washington Post:

"Make a pitch for baseball in D.C.," it read. Then it gave a phone number for the "Washington Senators' Fan Club."

A veteran of two other, desultory bids to stir fan interest in the mid-'70s, Malone believes this time Washington really has a chance to recoup the Senators, who left the city twice before, in 1961 and 1971.

Why, he was asked, would anyone risk buying a team that could become a three-time loser?

"Look how much Washington has changed in the past 14 years," said Malone, an optimist who recalls every particular of the Senators' checkered tenure here, including the final game that the team forfeited when disgusted fans mobbed the field at RFK Stadium in the ninth inning. "The Metro comes right down to the stadium. Washington is on the grow. Look at what has happened downtown and the suburbs. The place is building."

For the past three weeks, Malone and other members of the fan club have manned a phone bank nights at the D.C. baseball commission's office at RFK, calling some 16,000 area residents who filled in pledge cards indicating they would support a team.

The 70 or so regular fan club members are keying their efforts to the D.C. baseball commission campaign, encouraging baseball fans to put their money in the escrow accounts, Malone said.

And there are fans out there. "I think it'd be fun," said Loni Hagerup, a congressional staffer who lives in Washington. "I'm from Milwaukee and I went to see the Brewers maybe four times a year. I'd love to go here."

And Dan Bloom, who also works on the Hill, cut right through the cake: "They ought to put a stadium between Baltimore and Washington. That way the Redskins could play there and Baltimore fans would have a football team. The Orioles could play there and Washington fans would have a baseball team."

Such cool rationality doesn't play well in the bleachers, however. Richard Danker, a restaurateur who serves on the baseball commission, said the Chesapeake Orioles just wouldn't cut the mustard.

These fans are not lacking for opinions, but do they have clout? Do fans have much say in whether Washington gets a team?

Del Wilber, whose sports marketing agency here advises cities and corporations, believes not. Modern baseball doesn't lean on the diehard baseball-minded fan the way it used to, he said. Fans "are a second or third layer of focus" in attracting a team.

The real heart of the question whether Washington will win the competition, he said, is demographics, TV market share, corporate sponsorship and all the hoopla that views "baseball not as baseball, but baseball as entertainment."

But you can't tell that to Pat Malone. He is confident Washington baseball fans can influence organized baseball's decision with a broad show of old-fashioned enthusiasm.

"We, the baseball fans of Washington," he declared, "have suffered enough."