Senators2005, great post and great information. Id like to expand on that just alittle bit.
Here are a couple articles from the Washington Baseball Club's website's baseball heritage page:http://www.baseballindc.com/history/heritage_jul02.aspWith History on Our Side: A Century of Major League Baseball in Washington
"It's hard for us to imagine now, but in the fullness of time, the 30-odd years during which Washington was without a major league team will appear to be little more than an historical oddity. What seems today, at least for those of us old enough to remember the sunshine days of our Senators, like an endless descent into the dark ages, will instead be merely a brief gap in a long story that began in 1859, ran almost continuously until 1971, then picked up again early in the twenty-first century and continued as long as there was such a thing as baseball.
For those curious enough to look into the causes of the hiatus, it's oddity will only be confirmed. The puzzle of how the capital of the most powerful country in the world, with a long and storied baseball tradition behind it, could lose not one, but two, franchises, then be forgotten as the major leagues expanded frantically even while the Washington area was developing into a demographic and financial megalopolis, will have them scratching their heads?just as we've been doing for years.
It wasn't always that way. In fact, the earliest days of organized Base Ball (as it was written back then) saw Washington included in the form of two teams?the Potomacs and the Nationals, both organized in 1859 by groups of government officials, called "clerks" in the parlance of the times, who had read accounts of the new game taking hold among the athletic youth of the northern cities.
The Potomacs fell victim to the manpower requirements of the Civil War, but the more determined, and perhaps more influential, Nationals managed to keep a team together throughout the conflict. This provided the not infrequent spectacle of ballgames and battles taking place within some proximity and receiving equal coverage in the city's newspapers.
After the war, the Nationals continued making their mark around the expanded circuit of cities with organized clubs. In 1866, they once again had competition for the affection of local fans with the organization of the Olympics, coached by Nick Young, who would loom large in the organization of the earliest professional leagues.
In 1867, the Nationals embarked on the first "Western trip" in baseball history, playing nine games in Ohio and Illinois, and losing only one, to the young pitcher A.G. Spalding of the Rockford club. Accompanying the team was Henry Chadwick, baseball's first "beat writer" with the New York Mercury, who is credited with greatly popularizing the game.
After trading claims for several years to the baseball supremacy of the Nation's Capital, in 1870 the Nationals and Olympics proved their equality by splitting a series of four games. Until this time, baseball had been almost exclusively an amateur sport, played by "gentlemen" strictly for the challenge and pleasure of the game, not to mention the often all-night parties following the contests. By 1871, however, Nick Young thought it was time to make a profession of it."
"Washington's First Professional Teams (Or "The Cellar Yawns to Receive Them")"
For more than a decade, the "professional" Washington teams, the Nationals and Olympics, had competed in a loosely organized, and constantly changing, circuit with other Eastern cities. Then in 1871, Nick Young, who had played for and managed the Olympics since their inception in 1866, helped to organize what is now recognized as the first real league, the National Association of Professional Baseball Players.
Competing against eight other clubs, the Olympics acquitted themselves well that first season, finishing fourth with a record of sixteen wins and fifteen loses. No doubt jealous over their rivals newly elevated status, the Nationals joined the Association in 1872, but two Washington teams proved to be more than one city could sustain.
They both dropped out of the Association in mid-season with the Nationals losing all eleven games played, while the Olympics won two and lost seven. That was the end for the Olympics, while the Nationals managed to field teams with woeful records in 1873 and, after a year's hiatus, 1875.
But while his Olympics had bitten the dust, Nick Young wasn't finished by a long shot, carving himself a substantial place in baseball history by overhauling the Association charter to eliminate its unworkable parts and drawing up a new constitution for the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, the very beginning of "major league" baseball.
Ironically, while Young was occupied with his duties as first secretary, then president of the National League, as it is still called today, Washington would not be represented until 1886. From that point until the turn of the century, the "Senators" as they began to be called in 1888, although now in a major league, could barely be classified as such themselves. Under the carpetbagging, penny-pinching ownership of the Wagner brothers of Philadelphia who made a fortune off the team, they produced no real stars (although the legendary Connie Mack was a catcher for several years) and finished in the cellar five of their first six seasons, never climbing higher than sixth before being dropped by the league after the 1899 season.
The National League had decided to pare its roster from twelve teams to eight, and despite their team's perennially losing ways, it was hard for the loyal local fandom to accept being abandoned. When rumors of this possibility began floating around, the Washington Star editorialized an incredulity that would be expressed again on other similarly lamentable occasions years in the future:
"Whatever happens, Washington is too good a ball town to be dropped. Washington's record as the home of a losing team is phenomenal, and there is no telling how successful a winning team at National Park would prove."
So that gives you alittle more complete history of Baseball in Washington. The Nationals I do belive actually existed first or at the same time. The Olympics folded, and Nick young retooled the "constitution" of the newly formed league, and renamed it the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, which is now known as the National League. So MLB had its very start and foundation right here in Washington.
I have never, and will never pay attention to those ignorant fans who say we have no history here, that we dont deserve a team.. yada yada yada. Why? Because I know better, as we all SHOULD as Washington Baseball fans, and Washington Nationals fans.