Washington Nationals

August 13, 2013 |
Washington Nationals
2013 Washington Nationals season
Established 1969
Based in Washington, D.C. since 2005
Washington Nationals 2011.png Washington Nationals Cap Insig.svg
Team logo Cap insignia
Major league affiliations
Current uniform
Retired numbers 42
  • Red, Navy, White


  • Washington Nationals (2005–present)
Other nicknames
  • Nats
Major league titles
World Series titles (0)
NL Pennants (0)
East Division titles (2) 2012 · 1981
Wild card berths (0)
Front office
Owner(s) Ted Lerner
Manager Davey Johnson
General Manager Mike Rizzo

The Washington Nationals are a professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C. The Nationals are a member of the East Division of the National League of Major League Baseball (MLB). The team’s home ballpark is Nationals Park, located on South Capitol Street in Southeast D.C., near the Anacostia River. The park opened in 2008, replacing RFK Stadium, the team’s home from 2005 to 2007.[1]

The Nationals’ name derives from the former Washington baseball team that had the same name (used interchangeably with Senators). Their nickname is “the Nats”—a shortened version that was also used by the old D.C. teams.

An expansion franchise, the club was founded in 1969 as the Montreal Expos, the first major league team in Canada. They were based in Montreal, Quebec, and played their home games at Jarry Park Stadium and later in Olympic Stadium. During the strike-shortened 1981 season, the Expos won a division championship and made their only post-season appearance as a Montreal franchise, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies, 3–2, in the National League Division Series, but losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3–2, in the National League Championship Series.

The club had its highest winning percentage in the strike-shortened season of 1994, when the team had the best record in baseball. The team’s subsequent shedding of players caused fan interest to drop off, and after the 2001 season, MLB considered revoking the team’s franchise, along with either the Minnesota Twins or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.[2][3] After being purchased by MLB in 2002, the team was moved before the 2005 season to Washington and renamed the Nationals, the first relocation since the second Washington Senators moved to Arlington, Texas, and became the Texas Rangers in 1972.

The Nationals are one of two MLB franchises, and the only one in the National League, that has never played in a World Series (the Seattle Mariners are the other).[4]

History[edit source | edit]

Montreal Expos[edit source | edit]

The Montreal Expos joined the National League in 1969, along with the San Diego Padres, with a majority share held by Charles Bronfman, a major shareholder in Seagram. Named after the Expo 67 World’s Fair, the Expos’ initial home was Jarry Park. Managed by Gene Mauch, the team lost 110 games in their first season, coincidentally matching the Padres inaugural win-loss record, and continued to struggle during their first decade with sub-.500 seasons.

Starting in 1977, the team’s home venue was Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, built for the 1976 Summer Olympics. Two years later, the team won a franchise-high 95 games, finishing second in the National League East. The Expos began the 1980s with a core group of young players, including catcher Gary Carter, outfielders Tim Raines and Andre Dawson, third baseman Tim Wallach, and pitchers Steve Rogers and Bill Gullickson. The team won its only division championship in the strike-shortened split season of 1981, ending its season with a three games to two loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.

The team spent most of the 1980s in the middle of the NL East pack, finishing in third or fourth place in eight out of nine seasons from 1982 to 1990. Buck Rodgers was hired as manager before the 1985 season and guided the Expos to a .500 or better record five times in six years, with the highlight coming in 1987, when they won 91 games. They finished third, but were just four games behind the division-winning Cardinals.

Bronfman sold the team to a consortium of owners in 1991, with Claude Brochu as the managing general partner.[5][6] Rodgers, at that time second only to Gene Mauch in number of Expos games managed, was replaced partway through the 1991 season. In May 1992, Felipe Alou, a member of the Expos organization since 1976, was promoted to field manager, becoming the first Dominican-born manager in MLB history.[5] Alou would become the leader in Expos games managed, while guiding the team to winning records, including 1994, when the Expos, led by a talented group of players including Larry Walker, Moisés Alou, Marquis Grissom and Pedro Martínez, had the best record in the major leagues until the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike forced the cancellation of the remainder of the season. After the disappointment of 1994, Expos management began shedding its key players, and the team’s fan support dwindled.

Brochu sold control of the team to Jeffrey Loria in 1999,[7][8] but Loria failed to close on a plan to build a new downtown ballpark, and did not reach an agreement on television and English radio broadcast contracts for the 2000 season, reducing the team’s media coverage.

2001 contraction[edit source | edit]

In November 2001, MLB’s owners voted 28–2 to contract MLB by two teams — according to various sources, the Expos and the Minnesota Twins, both of which reportedly voted against contraction.[9] Subsequently, the Boston Red Sox were sold to a partnership led by John W. Henry, owner of the Florida Marlins.[9][10] In order to clear the way for Henry’s group to assume ownership of the Red Sox, Henry sold the Marlins to Loria, and MLB purchased the Expos from Loria.[9] However, as the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, operator of the Metrodome, won an injunction requiring the Twins to play there in 2002,[9] MLB was unable to revoke the Twins franchise, and so had to keep the Twins and Expos as part of the MLB schedule. In the collective bargaining agreement signed with the Major League Baseball Players Association in August 2002, contraction was prohibited through to the end of the contract in 2006.[11]

Creation of the Nationals[edit source | edit]

With contraction no longer an option for the immediate term, MLB began looking for a relocation site for the Expos. Some of the choices included Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Washington, D.C.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Monterrey, Mexico; Portland, Oregon; somewhere in Northern Virginia such as Arlington or Dulles; Norfolk, Virginia; Las Vegas; and Charlotte, North Carolina. Washington and Virginia emerged as the front-runners.

In both 2003 and 2004, the Expos played 22 of their home games in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium, and the remaining 59 in Montreal.

On September 29, 2004, MLB announced that the Expos would move to Washington, D.C. in 2005.[12] The Expos played their final game on October 3 at Shea Stadium, losing by a score of 8–1 against the New York Mets, the same opponent that the Expos first faced at its start, 35 years earlier. On November 15, a lawsuit by the former team owners against MLB and former majority owner Jeffrey Loria was struck down by arbitrators, bringing to an end all legal actions that would impede a move. The owners of the other MLB teams approved the move to Washington in a 28–1 vote on December 3 (Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos cast the sole dissenting vote).

Washington baseball history revived[edit source | edit]

Numerous professional baseball teams have called Washington, D.C. home. The Washington Senators, a founding member of the American League, played in the nation’s capital from 1901 to 1960 before moving to Minnesota and becoming the Twins. These Senators were owned by Clark Griffith and played in Griffith Stadium. With notable stars including Walter Johnson and Joe Cronin, the Senators won the 1924 World Series and pennants in 1925 and 1933, but were more often unsuccessful and moved to Minnesota for the 1961 season where the team was renamed the Minnesota Twins. A second Washington Senators team (1961–1971) had a winning record only once in their 11 years, though bright spots, such as slugger Frank Howard, earned the love of fans. The second Senators team moved to Arlington, Texas for the 1972 season and changed their name to the Texas Rangers, and Washington spent the next 33 years without a baseball team.

Although there was some sentiment to revive the name Senators, political considerations factored into the choice of Nationals, a revival of the first American League franchise’s “official” nickname used from 1905 to 1956.[13] Politicians and others in the District of Columbia objected to the name Senators because the District of Columbia does not have voting representation in Congress.[14] In addition, the Rangers still owned the rights to the Senators name,[15] although the Nationals were able to acquire the rights to the curly “W” from the Rangers. Coincidentally, the sitting President at the time of the move, George W. Bush, had at one time owned the Rangers.

Fallout from the relocation[edit source | edit]

Opposition from the Orioles[edit source | edit]

The move was announced despite opposition from Peter Angelos, owner of the nearby Baltimore Orioles, who famously announced “There are no baseball fans in Washington, D.C. That’s a fiction.” Since 1972, the Orioles had been the only MLB franchise in the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area, which he considered a single market. Angelos contended that the Orioles would suffer financially if another team were allowed to enter the market, although the Orioles and the Washington Senators had shared the market successfully from 1954 through 1971. This reasoning disturbed many in Washington who recalled that it was the Griffith family, owners of the Washington Senators, who allowed the St. Louis Browns to move to Baltimore in 1954 in the first place.

On March 31, 2005, Angelos and Major League Baseball struck a deal to protect the Orioles against any financial harm the Nationals might present.

Under the terms of the deal, television and radio broadcast rights to Nationals games are handled by the Orioles franchise, which formed a new network (the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) to produce and distribute the games for both franchises on both local affiliates and cable/satellite systems. MASN was not, however, immediately available on all cable providers, adding to the frustration of Nationals fans. In fact, most in the DC area missed almost the entirety of the Nationals’ first two seasons. The deal with Angelos makes the Nationals the only major league baseball team that does not own its own broadcast rights.

The ballpark controversy[edit source | edit]

Nationals at bat against the San Diego Padres in RFK Stadium, 8 July 2006.

The team’s relocation to Washington was contingent on a financing plan for the Nationals’ new stadium—this plan quickly became the subject of much debate on the Council of the District of Columbia.

Three Council members who supported Mayor Anthony Williams’s plan were ousted in September 2004′s Democratic party primary. In addition, an opinion poll conducted by The Washington Post during the peak of the controversy found that approximately two-thirds of District residents opposed the mayor’s stadium plan.

Much of the controversy centered on the fact that the city would be helping finance a $581 million stadium without support from Maryland or Virginia or their counties, from which a large portion of the team’s fan base would be drawn.[16]

In December 2004, the move to Washington itself was called into doubt when the D.C. Council sought to change details of the stadium’s financing. When the Council voted on December 14, 2004 to require 50 percent private financing for any new stadium, MLB ceased promotional activities for the Nationals and announced that they would consider looking for a new market.

Eventually, the council passed an amended plan on December 21, 2004 that proved slightly more financially favorable to the city, while remaining acceptable to MLB. Mayor Williams signed the stadium financing package on December 30.

During the 2005 season, a private financing plan for construction of the stadium was negotiated between the city and a syndicate of bankers led by Deutsche Bank. The negotiations of the details ran into another problem in November 2005. The bankers requested a letter of credit or other financial guarantee of $24 million, $6 million for each of four years, ensuring payment of lease revenues against various risks including poor attendance and terrorism. The city requested that Major League Baseball provide this guarantee, which they were unwilling to do.

On December 22, 2005, the Washington Post reported that Major League Baseball had specifically instructed prospective owners not to offer to pay cost overruns on the stadium if they were selected as the owners. Bidders were also told not to communicate with the press about these issues.

In February 2006, the DC City Council imposed a $611 million cap on the stadium.

Finally, on March 5, Major League Baseball signed a lease for a new ballpark, agreeing to the city’s $611 million cap. MLB also agreed to contribute $20 million toward the cost of the stadium, although it did not agree to cover stadium overruns. Further, MLB added the condition that excess ballpark tax revenue earmarked for debt service for the bonds be available for cost overruns. Two days later, on March 7 the DC City Council, by a vote of 9–4, approved a construction contract for a state-of-the-art stadium with a contemporary glass-and-stone facade, seats for 41,000 fans and a view of the U.S. Capitol, and affirmed its demand that public spending on the project be limited to $611 million. The votes were the final actions needed to satisfy the terms of the deal struck in September 2004, paving the way for the sale of the team.

Major League Baseball had agreed at the time that the franchise was moved to Washington to sell the team to an owner or ownership syndicate. Several dates for sale of the team were set and missed due to the legal wrangling regarding the building of the stadium. The delay was harshly criticized by city residents and leaders as reported in The Washington Post.

Selecting from a finalized group of three potential ownership syndicates, Major League Baseball announced in July 2006 that it had chosen the Lerner Enterprises group, led by billionaire real estate developer Theodore N. Lerner. The final sale price of the team was $450 million and the transfer of ownership was completed July 24, 2006. In late September 2006, Comcast finally agreed to broadcast the Nationals games.

New ownership and “The Plan”[edit source | edit]

Washington Nationals versus the Cincinnati Reds in 2009 at Nationals Park

When Ted Lerner took over the club in mid-2006, he hired Stan Kasten as team president. Kasten was widely known as the architect of the Atlanta Braves before and during their run of 14 division titles. Kasten was also the general manager or president of many other Atlanta-area sports teams, including the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers. “The Plan”, as it became known, was a long-range rebuilding and restructuring of the team from the ground up. This plan included investing in the farm system and the draft, and having a suitable team to go along with their new stadium.

In the front office, the Nationals hired the well-respected former Arizona scouting director Mike Rizzo to be the vice president of baseball operations, second in charge under then-general manager Jim Bowden.[17]

2006-07[edit source | edit]

At the end of the 2006 season, the Nationals did not re-sign free agent and star OF Alfonso Soriano. Soriano signed a $136 million contract with the Cubs, and Washington received two draft picks in return. OF José Guillén was also allowed to depart via free agency, and another high draft pick was obtained. Another high priced player, 2B/DH José Vidro, was traded to the Seattle Mariners for prospects OF Chris Snelling and RHP Emiliano Fruto. In mid-2006, the Nationals received OF Austin Kearns, 2B/SS Felipe López, and RHP Ryan Wagner from the Cincinnati Reds, giving up LHP Gary Majewski, LHP Bill Bray, SS Royce Clayton, 2B Brendan Harris and RHP Daryl Thompson. In August, they traded RHP Liván Hernández to the Arizona Diamondbacks for prospects LHP Matt Chico and RHP Garrett Mock. Other players traded or let go from the 2005 season were OF Preston Wilson, RHP Héctor Carrasco, IF Jamey Carroll, and OF Terrmel Sledge. The team also acquired pitching prospects Luis Atilano from Atlanta, Shairon Martis from San Francisco and Jhonny Núñez from the Dodgers. In 2006, they had two first-round draft picks, OF Chris Marrero, and RHP Colten Williams, and signed them both to developmental contracts. The Nationals also signed a 16-year-old Dominican shortstop, Esmailyn Gonzalez, for $1.4 million.[18] Gonzalez was later revealed to be 20 years old at the time of his signing.[19]

As for their farm system, the Nationals had a lot of work to do. By the spring of 2007, Baseball America had ranked the Nationals organization as dead last twice in four years in terms of minor league talent.[20]

The Nationals had five of the first seventy picks in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft: their own two, and three compensation picks (two from losing Soriano, and one for Guillen). The team selected players that many considered to be four of the top 30 players available.[20] Overall, the Nationals signed all of their top twenty draft picks.[21] One of them, a first-round supplemental pick, Michael Burgess, was, by the end of the year, picked by Baseball America as the top prospect for the entire Gulf Coast League.[22] Their rookie team, Vermont, sent three starting pitchers Colton Willems, Glenn Gibson, and Adrian Alaniz, and two position players, first baseman Bill Rhinehart, and outfielder Aaron Seuss to the New York–Penn League All-Star Game.[23] By the end of the season, three Vermont pitchers landed in the Top 20 prospects for the New York–Penn League:

  • 2007 second-round Jordan Zimmermann was ranked #5
  • 2006 fourth round LHP Glenn Gibson (later traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for Elijah Dukes) was ranked #9
  • 2006 first round RHP Colton Willems was ranked #11.[24]

In the low-A South Atlantic League Top 20, two players made the list:

  • Chris Marrero was ranked #5
  • Justin Maxwell, who played a few games with the Nationals during September, was ranked at #18.[25]

In addition, after having no teams in the Dominican Summer League, the Nationals fielded two clubs in 2007, one of which won the DSL Championships.[26]

“The Plan” reloaded[edit source | edit]

In March 2009, just prior to Spring Training, members of the Nationals’ front office were implicated in a scandal involving the skimming of bonus money from the signing of Latin American players. José Rijo, a key adviser to Jim Bowden, was thought to be at the heart of this. As a result of this scandal, General Manager Jim Bowden resigned in Spring Training of 2009, though he maintained he had done nothing wrong.[27]

Mike Rizzo, the man serving as assistant G.M. for the previous two seasons, became the acing GM. Rizzo began to shape the team in a way that was contrary to Bowden’s previous methods. While Bowden was known for “dumpster-diving”, that is attempting to find serviceable players among the less-than-desired, Mike Rizzo sought players who achieved results. Bowden took risks on players with poor reputations (such as outfielders Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge), while Rizzo made a point out of making certain his players possessed “character” and would contribute to a cohesive clubhouse.

Despite the failures of Bowden’s tenure, his last trade appeared to have been extremely beneficial to the Nationals, as he traded infielder Emilio Bonifacio and two minor-leaguers to the Marlins for starting pitcher Scott Olsen and outfielder Josh Willingham.

Rizzo’s first major trade during the 2009 season as General Manager of the Nationals was to trade Lastings Milledge along with control-challenged reliever Joel Hanrahan to the Pirates in exchange for speedy outfielder Nyjer Morgan and left-handed relief pitcher Sean Burnett. Morgan was thought to be a great clubhouse presence as well as a slick fielder on the outfield grass.

Mike Rizzo’s new philosophy continued to show in the 2009–2010 offseason. He was able to acquire second baseman Adam Kennedy, All Star starting pitcher Jason Marquis (who began the 2010 season very poorly, though it was later revealed that he had bone chips in his throwing elbow, his ERA was over 13 at one point), and catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. All three men had reputations as being great teammates. Collectively, they had extensive experience playing for successful teams. This was a contrast to the Nationals’ roster at the time, which had some talented players who lacked experience playing for winning teams.

Seasons[edit source | edit]

2005[edit source | edit]

Then President George W. Bush throws out a ceremonial first pitch in 2005.

  • On April 4, 2005, Brad Wilkerson (after being the last player to ever wear a Montreal Expo jersey) had the honor of being the first batter for the Washington Nationals and he promptly responded with the first hit for the new Washington incarnation of the team. Outfielder Terrmel Sledge hit the Nationals’ first home run in the April 4 contest.
  • On April 6, 2005, the Nationals recorded their first-ever regular season win by beating the Phillies, 7–3. The win came in their second game of the season and was highlighted by Wilkerson hitting for the cycle.
  • On April 14, 2005, the Washington Nationals won their first regular season home game at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C, by a score of 5–3 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. President George W. Bush kept up a tradition of sitting U.S. Presidents by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day in Washington, exactly 95 years after William Howard Taft started the tradition at Griffith Stadium. There were 45,596 fans in attendance, including former Senators players and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Liván Hernández threw eight shutout innings, and Vinny Castilla was denied the chance to hit for the cycle when Diamondback reliever Lance Cormier hit him with a pitch in the bottom of the eighth; Castilla needed only a single to complete the cycle. Chad Cordero recorded the save for Washington.
  • On August 4, 2005, Brad Wilkerson became the first Washington Nationals player to ever hit a grand slam, against then Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Duaner Sánchez. The Nationals won the game 7–0 on a four-hit complete game shutout by John Patterson.
  • During his August–September callup, Ryan Zimmerman recorded 23 hits in 58 at-bats. He thus became the first member of the Washington Nationals to complete the season with a batting average of at least .300 in at least 50 at-bats.
  • The Nationals led all National League teams in interleague play in 2005, recording 12 wins.
  • At the halfway mark of the season, the Nationals were in first place in the National League East division, with a record of 50–31.

2006[edit source | edit]

  • On Father’s Day, June 18, 2006, against the New York Yankees, the paid attendance was 45,157, the third-largest ever to see a single baseball game in the history of RFK Stadium. In that game, the Nationals beat the Yankees 3-2 on a two-run walk-off home run by rookie Ryan Zimmerman. (A 1962 doubleheader drew more spectators, as did the Nationals’ first-ever home game with Arizona.)
  • On September 2, 2006, the Nationals rallied from three runs down in the first game and from five runs down in the second game to take a day–night doubleheader sweep from the Arizona Diamondbacks, the first day-night doubleheader as part of the team’s history in Washington.
  • On Labor Day, September 4, 2006, Ramón Ortiz took a no-hitter into the ninth inning vs. the St. Louis Cardinals, but gave up a single to Aaron Miles on his second pitch in the 9th to break up the bid. Then he gave up a home run to Albert Pujols, ending his chance to get his second career shutout. Ortiz himself also hit a home run in the 8th inning. The Nationals won 5–2.
  • On September 16, 2006, Alfonso Soriano became the fourth player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season when he stole his 40th base in the first inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Soriano followed that feat on September 22 by hitting his 40th double, becoming the first member of the “40–40 Club” to also hit 40 doubles in the same season.

2007[edit source | edit]

After losing four starters (Liván Hernández, Tony Armas, Ramón Ortiz and Pedro Astacio) from the prior year, the Nationals invited an extraordinary 36 pitchers to spring training.[28][29]

On Opening Day, the Nationals lost their starting shortstop Cristian Guzmán and center fielder Nook Logan for five weeks due to injuries. At the end of April, starting pitcher Jerome Williams hurt his ankle while batting and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Then, in the space of just 10 days in May, Shawn Hill, John Patterson, and Jason Bergmann went on the disabled list. Jerome Williams returned, pitched one game, and went back on the DL with a shoulder injury. The Washington Post’s wrote: “Almost everything that could sink a team’s attitude has befallen the Nationals. They started the year 1–8, then they lost eight in a row to drop to 9–25.”[30]

They put journeymen Mike Bacsik, Micah Bowie, Tim Redding, and Jason Simontacchi, along with rookie reliever Levale Speigner into the starting rotation, amidst predictions that the 2007 Nationals might equal the 1962 Mets’ record of futility of 120 losses in one season.[31] But the Nationals bounced back, going 24–18 in their next 42 games through June 25. But on that day, a day in which Bergman made his first start off the DL, the Nationals received the news that shortstop Cristian Guzmán, their leadoff hitter (and second on the team with a .329 batting average) was lost for the rest of the season due to a thumb injury he had received the day before tagging out a runner.

The Nationals finished the 2007 season 73–89, improving their record by two more wins than in 2006.

  • On April 17, 2007, one day after the shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech where 33 faculty and students were murdered in the largest mass shooting in US history, the Nationals wore Virginia Tech baseball hats as they hosted the Atlanta Braves.[32] The idea was e-mailed to team President Stan Kasten by Nationals fan Dave Lanham following the shootings. One of these hats was sent to the National Baseball Hall of Fame to be displayed.[33]
  • On May 12, 2007, the Nationals hosted the Florida Marlins. Tied 3–3 in the bottom of the ninth, Marlins pitcher Jorge Julio faced Ryan Zimmerman with the bases loaded and two outs. Zimmerman hit the 2–2 pitch over the right-center field wall for a walk-off grand slam.[34] Also during this game, right fielder Austin Kearns hit the Nationals’ first inside-the-park home run. The game ended at 1:42AM after two separate extended rain delays.
  • On August 7, 2007, while on the road against the San Francisco Giants, Nationals pitcher Mike Bacsik allowed Barry Bonds‘ 756th career home run, giving him first place on the career home run list. However, the Nationals won the game 8–6.
  • On September 23, 2007, the Nationals played their final game at RFK Stadium, a 5–3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

2008[edit source | edit]

Nationals 2008 team during warm up

  • On March 30, 2008, the Nationals held the grand opening of their new ballpark, Nationals Park, with a rare one game series against the Atlanta Braves. Continuing the tradition, President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Nationals manager Manny Acta. The Nationals beat the Braves in dramatic fashion when, with two out in the bottom of the 9th inning, Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo walk-off home run off of pitcher Peter Moylan. This gave the Nationals a 3–2 victory. For the record, the first hit was recorded by Cristian Guzmán, the first RBI was recorded by Nick Johnson, the first run scored was recorded by Cristian Guzmán, the first home run was recorded by the Braves’ Chipper Jones, and the first starting pitchers were Odalis Pérez for the Nationals and Tim Hudson for the Braves. President Bush was in the ESPN television booth at the time of Jones’ homer and was the one who called it.

2009[edit source | edit]

  • In April 2009, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn wore jerseys that improperly spelled the team’s name as “Natinals”. They later switched to properly spelled jerseys in the 3rd inning. Majestic Athletic, the uniform supplier for MLB later apologized. This spawned a rash of jokes both on the internet and on television regarding Nationals and futility. The jersey worn by Dunn was later auctioned for $8000 to benefit the Washington Nationals Dream foundation.
  • On July 27, 2009, Josh Willingham hit two grand slams in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The first grand slam was hit against Jeff Suppan and the second against Mark DiFelice. Willingham became the 13th player in MLB history to accomplish the feat.
  • On September 30, 2009, Justin Maxwell hit a two-out full count walk-off grand slam off of Francisco Rodríguez of the 2009 New York Mets on Fan Appreciation Day, the Nationals’ last home game of the season.
  • On October 4, 2009, the Nationals’ last game of the season, the Nationals won after 15 innings, the longest game for the team as part of its Washington history. The Nationals also became the first team in MLB history to start the season losing seven in a row and close the season winning seven in a row.

2010[edit source | edit]

  • On April 5, 2010, President Barack Obama kept up a tradition of sitting U.S. Presidents by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day in Washington.

Stephen Strasburg during his major league debut.

  • On June 7, 2010 the Nationals selected Bryce Harper of Southern Nevada. Harper was expected to break the contract record set by Stephen Strasburg.[35] Harper is also a client of Strasburg’s agent Scott Boras. With 26 seconds left to sign, Harper and Boras agreed to a 9.9 million dollar, five-year contract,[36] falling short of Strasburg’s 15.5 million over four years.
  • On June 8, 2010, the first overall pick, Stephen Strasburg had his major league debut, attracting a sellout crowd of 40,315. Strasburg struck out 14 batters in seven innings, giving up just 2 earned runs in a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 14 strikeouts were a record for the Nationals—the most in a single game by a National since the franchise moved to D.C.[37]
  • On July 29, 2010, the Nationals traded Matt Capps to the Minnesota Twins for Wilson Ramos. Ramos was considered to be the top catching prospect in the American League.
  • On July 30, 2010, the Nationals traded infielder Cristian Guzmán to the Texas Rangers for two minor league pitchers. Guzmán had to approve the deal because he has 10-and-5 rights (players with 10 years in the major league and five consecutive years with their current team cannot be traded without their consent).[38]
  • On September 6, 2010, the Nationals won their 60th game of the season, eclipsing their win totals from the 2008 and 2009 season (finishing with 59 wins each time). September call-up Danny Espinosa hit two home runs including a grand slam in the Nationals’ 13–3 win over the Mets at Nationals Park.[39]
  • On September 20, 2010, the Nationals recorded their lowest attendance ever since they came to Washington, with just 10,999 in attendance for a game against the Houston Astros.[40] The poor attendance continued during the whole series, with fewer than 12,000 on September 21, fewer than 13,000 on September 22, and 14,633 on September 23.[41][42]
  • On September 23, 2010, team president Stan Kasten announced he would resign at the end of the season.[41] Kasten did not explain in detail his reason for resigning and said, “It’s just time to be doing something else.”[43]
  • On November 10, 2010, the Nationals unveiled a new logo and uniforms.[44][45]
  • On December 5, 2010, the Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year deal worth $126 million.

Jayson Werth playing for the Nationals against the Orioles in May 2011

2011[edit source | edit]

On June 23, 2011, the Nationals won a 1-0 game to put them above .500 with a record of 38-37 (.507), the latest point in the season the team had been above .500 since 2005. Immediately after the game, manager Jim Riggleman resigned, citing the team’s refusal to discuss extending his contract.[46] Bench coach John McLaren was named the interim manager.[47] It was later reported that Davey Johnson was signed through the end of the 2011 season, with an option for 2012 (as a candidate in a search that would include minority candidates), and a contract as a front office consultant through 2013.[48]

The Nationals finished the 2011 season in third place with a record of 80-81, their second-best record since they moved to Washington.[49] They only played 161 games because a home game against the Dodgers was cancelled due to rain. The game was not made up because it was inconsequential to the playoffs with no room on the schedule to play it.[50]

On December 23, Washington traded prospects A.J. Cole, Derek Norris, Tom Milone and Brad Peacock for All-Star Pitcher Gio Gonzalez.[51]

After the 2011 season, the last remaining member of the Expos – Liván Hernández – departed the Nationals, although it was non-continious.

2012[edit source | edit]

On September 20, the Nationals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming the first Washington-based baseball team to advance to the postseason in 79 years. [52] On October 1, the Nationals clinched the National League East division.[53] On October 3, they went on to clinch the best record in Major League Baseball at 98-64.[54] On October 12, in Game 5 of the NLDS, they would lose to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7.[55]

2013[edit source | edit]

In November 2012, manager Davey Johnson signed a contract to return for the 2013 season, and announced that he would retire from managing at the end of that season.[56]

The Nationals will likely leave its spring training home at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida as early as 2015.[57]

People of note[edit source | edit]

Managers[edit source | edit]


Manager Time period Regular season Post-season Totals
Wins Losses Win % Best finish Wins Losses Win % Post-season Wins Losses Win %
Frank Robinson 2005–2006 152 172 46.9% 0 0 Never made post-season 152 172 46.9%
Manny Acta 2007–2009 158 252 38.5% 0 0 Never made post-season 158 252 38.5%
Jim Riggleman 2009–2011 140 172 44.9% 0 0 Never made post-season 140 172 44.9%
John McLaren 2011 2 1 66.7% 0 0 Never made post-season 2 1 66.7%
Davey Johnson 2011–present 128 97 56.9% 2 3 40% 2012 130 100 56.5%

Broadcasters[edit source | edit]

Current roster[edit source | edit]

Washington Nationals roster

Active roster Inactive roster Coaches/Other


Starting rotation












60-day disabled list

25 active, 15 inactive

Injury icon 2.svg 7- or 15-day disabled list
Suspended list
# Personal leave
Roster updated August 5, 2013
TransactionsDepth chart
All MLB rosters

Baseball Hall of Famers[edit source | edit]

Washington Nationals Hall of Famers
Affiliation according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Montreal Expos

Gary Carter
Andre Dawson

Tony Pérez
Dick Williams2

Washington Nationals

Frank Robinson1

Players listed in bold are depicted on their Hall of Fame plaques wearing a Expos or Nationals cap insignia.
1 – inducted as player; managed Expos/Nationals
2 – inducted as manager, also played for Expos/Nationals or was manager

Ford C. Frick Award (broadcasters only)[edit source | edit]

Washington Nationals Ford C. Frick Award recipients
Affiliation according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Tom Cheek

Dave Van Horne

Names in bold received the award based primarily on their work as broadcasters for the Expos or Nationals.

Retired numbers[edit source | edit]


Retired 1997

During the franchise’s period in Montreal, the Montreal Expos retired three numbers in honor of four players, plus Jackie Robinson‘s number 42 which was retired throughout all Major League Baseball in 1997.[59] Following the move to Washington, D.C., the numbers were returned to circulation and remained in use at least through the conclusion of the 2011 season, although the “Team History” section of the Nationals’ website continues to refer to the numbers as “retired.”[59] After the Expos’ departure from Montreal, the Canadiens hung a banner in Bell Centre honoring the Expos’ retired numbers.

During 2010, the Nationals established a “Ring of Honor”[60] at Nationals Park to honor Hall of Fame members from the Washington Nationals, Washington Senators, Homestead Grays, and Montreal Expos. The ring includes the names of former retired-number honorees Carter and Dawson.[61]

Season standings[edit source | edit]

Standings updated on 10/1/12

League[62] Division[62] Regular season Post-season Awards
Finish Wins Losses Win% GB
2005 2005 NL East 5th 81 81 .500 9
2006 2006 NL East 5th 71 91 .438 26 Alfonso Soriano (Silver Slugger)
2007 2007 NL East 4th 73 89 .451 18 Dmitri Young (CPOY)[63]
2008 2008 NL East 5th 59 102 .366 32½
2009 2009 NL East 5th 59 103 .364 34 Ryan Zimmerman (Gold Glove and Silver Slugger)
2010 2010 NL East 5th 69 93 .426 28 Ryan Zimmerman (Silver Slugger)
2011 2011 NL East 3rd 80 81 .497 21½
2012 2012 NL East 1st 98 64 .604 Won the NL East Division by 4 games; lost the NLDS 2-3 Adam LaRoche – (Silver Slugger and Gold Glove)
Ian Desmond – (Silver Slugger)
Stephen Strasburg – (Silver Slugger)
Bryce Harper – NL Rookie of the Year
Davey Johnson – NL Manager of the Year

Bold denotes a playoff season, pennant or championship; italics denote an active season.

Minor league affiliations[edit source | edit]

Level Team League Location
AAA Syracuse Chiefs International League Syracuse, New York
AA Harrisburg Senators Eastern League Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Advanced A Potomac Nationals Carolina League Woodbridge, Virginia
A Hagerstown Suns South Atlantic League Hagerstown, Maryland
Short Season A Auburn Doubledays New York–Penn League Auburn, New York
Rookie GCL Nationals Gulf Coast League Viera, Florida
DSL Nationals Dominican Summer League Dominican Republic

Former affiliates[edit source | edit]

Level League Team (Seasons)
AAA International League Memphis Blues (1974–75)
Columbus Clippers (2007–08)
New Orleans Zephyrs (2005–06)
AA Southern League Jacksonville Suns (1970, 1984–1990)
Memphis Chicks (1978–83)
A South Atlantic League Albany Polecats (1992, 1995)
Cape Fear Crocs (1997–2000)
Savannah Sand Gnats (2003–06)
Florida State League Jupiter Hammerheads (1998–01)
Short Season A New York-Penn League Vermont Expos/Lake Monsters (1977–2010)

Nationals Dream Foundation[edit source | edit]

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation is the team’s charity which is “committed to community partnerships that improve the lives of children and families across the Washington Capital Region. The foundation plans to open a youth baseball academy in partnership with the D.C. government, a pediatric diabetes care center at Children’s National Medical Center in partnership with the Center. The foundation also provides grants to local organizations.[64]

On August 1, 2011, the foundation, in partnership with several local organizations, formally opened Miracle Field in Germantown, Maryland as part of an effort to encourage athletic activity in children with “mental and/or physical challenges.”[65] According to Steven Miller of MLB.com, what sets Miracle Field apart in terms of safety is its unique design, as it “is made entirely of a cushioned synthetic turf that is five-eighths of an inch thick– providing a safe surface for children in wheelchairs or with other handicaps.” [66]

Radio and television[edit source | edit]

Mascots dressed as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln in the stands during a 2010 game against the Baltimore Orioles. They compete in the Presidents Race every mid-fourth inning of a home game.

The Nationals’ flagship radio station is WJFK-FM (106.7 FM) “The Fan”, which is owned by CBS Radio. Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler are the play-by-play announcers. Most games are simulcast on 1500 AM, which had been the flagship station since the 2006 season[67] until a multi-year agreement was reached between the Nationals and WJFK before the 2011 season.[68] The other former flagship is WWZZ 104.1 FM, which carried games in the 2005 season.[69]

Nationals’ telecasts are predominantly on Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), with a few games picked up for free TV by Fox. 20 of MASN’s games per season (the season opener plus 19 weekend games) are also simulcast on free TV in the Washington area, on WUSA. [70] Bob Carpenter is the TV play-by-play announcer and F.P. Santangelo was hired in January 2011 as color analyst.[71] Former color analysts are Tom Paciorek, Don Sutton, and Rob Dibble, who was fired in September 2010 after criticizing Stephen Strasburg for not pitching while injured.[71][72] Ray Knight and Johnny Holliday host the postgame show “Nats Xtra”. Knight filled in as color analyst in September 2010 after Dibble was fired.[71]

TV ratings were among the worst in the league[73][74] but increased during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.[75][76]

Nationals vs. Orioles[edit source | edit]

Beltway Series[edit source | edit]

The Nationals have a friendly rivalry with the nearby Baltimore Orioles nicknamed the Beltway Series. The teams have played a series home and away every season since 2005.

Footnotes[edit source | edit]

  1. a RFK Stadium Fast Facts

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ “Nationals victorious in stadium debut”. MLB.com. March 29, 2008. 
  2. ^ “Gwynn lost chance at .400; Expos denied playoff berth”. CNN. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  3. ^ “Labor Pains – A guide to Major League Baseball’s contraction issue”. infoplease.com. Accessed September 24, 2010. 
  4. ^ “World Series Club History”. Baseball Almanac. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Montreal Expos (1996). Expos Media Guide 1996. 
  6. ^ Blair, Jeff (1991-06-15). “Brochu group goes to bat for baseball survival here; Expos sale official as Bronfman era ends”. Montreal Gazette. pp. C.1. 
  7. ^ Montreal Expos (2000). Expos Media Guide 2000. 
  8. ^ Blair, Jeff (1999-12-10). “Expos to field better team, Loria says Ebullient new chairman vows to increase salary limit, build new ballpark for 2002 season”. The Globe and Mail (The Globe and Mail). pp. S.1. 
  9. ^ a b c d Schoenfield, David (2002-02-05). “Still 30 teams: Contraction timeline”. ESPN.com. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  10. ^ Mnookin, Seth (2006). Feeding the Monster. How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-8681-2. 
  11. ^ “Deal in place, games go on” (Press release). MLB.com. 2002-08-30. Retrieved 2006-12-28. 
  12. ^ Myles, Stephanie (2004-09-30). “31,395 say goodbye”. Montreal Gazette. pp. C1. 
  13. ^ “Media Center”. DCVote.org. Accessed September 24, 2010. 
  14. ^ “The District’s Senators Shouldn’t Wear Cleats”. The Washington Post. October 3, 2004. 
  15. ^ “In Washington, it’ll be “Let’s go Nats”". USA Today. November 22, 2004. 
  16. ^ “Letters”. The Economist. April 29, 2005. 
  17. ^ Barry Svrluga (June 5, 2007). “Nationals Counting on Draft-Day Payoff”. Washington Post. p. E01. 
  18. ^ Aaron Fitt (January 12, 2007). “Top 10 Prospects: Washington Nationals”. 
  19. ^ “Dominican prospect faked age, name”. ESPN.com. February 18, 2009. 
  20. ^ a b Mark Zuckerman (September 7, 2007). “From worst to … not quite first”. Washington Times. 
  21. ^ Bill Ladson (August 16, 2007). “Nats agree to terms with McGeary”. MLB.com. 
  22. ^ Chris Kline (September 20, 2007). “Gulf Coast League Top 20 Prospects List: Young talent proves tough to gauge”. Baseball America. 
  23. ^ Ben Badler (August 9, 2007). “Experienced Former College Players Fill NYPL All-Star Rosters”. Baseball America. 
  24. ^ Aaron Fitt (September 26, 2007). “New York-Penn League Top 20 Prospects List”. Baseball America. 
  25. ^ Bill Ballew (October 1, 2007). “South Atlantic League Top 20 Prospects List”. Baseball America. 
  26. ^ Bill Ladson (September 7, 2007). “Notes”. MLB.com. 
  27. ^ Associated Press (2 March 2009). “Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden resigns”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  28. ^ Thomas Boswell (March 7, 2007). “Nats’ Starting Pitching Could Be a Real Problem”. The Washington Post. p. E03. 
  29. ^ Barry Svrluga (February 26, 2007). “Nats’ St. Claire Knows the Task at Hand”. Washington Post. p. E01. 
  30. ^ Thomas Boswell (June 4, 2007). “Nationals Are Managing Just Fine With Acta”. The Washington Post. p. E01. 
  31. ^ Linton Weeks (May 8, 2007). “Baseball Most Foul: The Nats Reinvent Bad”. Washington Post. p. C01. 
  32. ^ Carig, Marc (April 18, 2007). “Nats Show Their Support”. The Washington Post. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  33. ^ “Nationals don Virginia Tech baseball caps during game”. SignOnSanDiego.com. April 17, 2007. 
  34. ^ “Zimmerman’s walk-off grand slam ends rain-delayed game”. ESPN.com. May 12, 2007. 
  35. ^ Matuszewski, Erik (June 7, 2010). “Nationals Draft `Chosen One’ Bryce Harper as No. 1 a Year After Strasburg”. Bloomberg. 
  36. ^ “Nationals sign Bryce Harper for $9.9M”. ESPN.com. August 17, 2010. 
  37. ^ Sheinin, Dave (June 9, 2010). “Pitcher Stephen Strasburg makes his major league debut for Washington Nationals”. Washington Post. 
  38. ^ “Guzman OKs trade from Nationals to Rangers”. Huffington Post. July 30, 2010. 
  39. ^ Kilgore, Adam (September 6, 2010). “Danny Espinosa hits 2 homers, drives in 6 in Nats’ win over Mets”. Washington Post. 
  40. ^ “The Nationals are having trouble drawing a crowd”. Washington Post. September 21, 2010. 
  41. ^ a b “Losses mounting, attendance low, Stan Kasten resigning as president of Washington Nationals”. Washington Examiner. September 23, 2010. 
  42. ^ “MLB Box Score 9/23/2010″. USA Today. September 23, 2010. 
  43. ^ “Stan Kasten will step down as Nationals’ president”. Richmond Times Dispatch. September 24, 2010. 
  44. ^ “Nationals unveil new jerseys in fashion show”. MLB.com. November 10, 2010. 
  45. ^ “About the Nats new uniforms and the Curly W”. Washington Post DC Sports Blog. November 10, 2010. 
  46. ^ Riggleman steps down as Nationals manager
  47. ^ Rizzo: John McLaren will manage Nationals in Chicago
  48. ^ Ben Goessling (2011-06-26). “The Goessling Game: Davey Johnson’s deal with the Nationals”. Masnsports.com. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  49. ^ Strasburg fans 10, wins season finale
  50. ^ How the Nationals’ final two games will affect their draft status and offseason
  51. ^ “Oakland A’s trade Gio Gonzalez to Washington Nationals – ESPN”. Espn.go.com. 2011-12-23. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  52. ^ Adam Kilgore (2012-09-21). “Washington Nationals clinch MLB playoff spot with 4-1 win over Los Angeles Dodgers”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  53. ^ “Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals – Recap – October 01, 2012 – ESPN”. Scores.espn.go.com. 2012-10-01. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  54. ^ “Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals – Recap – October 03, 2012 – ESPN”. Scores.espn.go.com. 2012-10-03. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  55. ^ “CARDS SCORE 4 IN 9TH, BEAT NATS 9-7, REACH NLCS”. Associated Press. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  56. ^ Wagner, James (November 10, 2012). “Davey Johnson, Nationals officially agree to deal for return in 2013 season”. The Washington Post. 
  57. ^ “Washington Nationals moving out of Brevard County”. CFN13. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  58. ^ “2011 Washington Nationals Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics”. Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  59. ^ a b “Franchise Retired Numbers”. Washington Nationals. Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  60. ^ See also: Washington Hall of Stars.
  61. ^ “Washington Nationals Pay Tribute to Hall of Famers with Ring of Honor”. Washington Nationals. 2010-08-10. 
  62. ^ a b “Washington Nationals History & Encyclopedia”. Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  63. ^ Bill Ladson (2007-10-26). “Young honored by Players Association”. MLB.com. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  64. ^ Nationals Dream Foundation
  65. ^ Major League Baseball, “Washington Nationals Join Civic, Community Organizations to Build Miracle Field.” MLB.com, http://mlb.mlb.com/was/community/foundation/index.jsp?mc=miracle_field.
  66. ^ Miller, Steven. “Nationals unveil Miracle League Field.” Nationals.com. August 1, 2011. http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110801&content_id=22613338&vkey=news_was&c_id=was.
  67. ^ Nats, Post Radio Nearing Deal To Air Games
  68. ^ Nationals get new radio partner
  69. ^ Nationals pick radio partner
  70. ^ Fantis, Manny. “Washington Nationals Games on WUSA9 and MASN”. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  71. ^ a b c Santangelo set to join Nats’ TV team
  72. ^ Rob Dibble Fired by Nationals in Wake of Stephen Strasburg Comments
  73. ^ Steinberg, Dan (July 7, 2008). “Nats: Last in the League, Last in TV Ratings”. Washington Post. 
  74. ^ OURAND, JOHN (July 7, 2008). “MLB ratings down, but networks look ahead”. Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  75. ^ Nationals’ TV Ratings Improve
  76. ^ The Ratings Game: Ratings Up For Nationals, Orioles

External links[edit source | edit]

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