National Pastime


Washington DC played a huge part in the origin of the national pastime as one of the first baseball team’s was the Washington Nationals. Growth and prosperity is best achieved when goals are established and current performances are evaluated. The history of winning baseball franchises is quite bare in Washington, and the only championship was captured in 1924 by the Washington Senators. Many great players have graced the DC area which included hall of famers Harmon Killebrew, Walter Johnson, and Leon “Goose” Goslin. There were periods of time when Washington hosted a contender that challenged annually for the championship, but mostly the teams were dismal performing below mediocrity.

The Washington Nationals were the first franchise in Washington DC to compete in major league baseball, and they would leave to Minnesota in 1961. The next franchise spent a little more than a decade in Washington, and this team maintained the name Washington Senators. They mostly finished in last place, and despite the team’s dismal record they had great players that would be later inducted into the hall of fame. The Senators would leave DC in 1971 to become the Texas Rangers, and baseball would not be back in Washington until the Nationals franchise resurrected in 2005.

The only championship was captured in 1924 behind the arm of hall of famer Walter Johnson. He is most definitely one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and is recognized as the first baseball athlete to be used as a product spokesperson. The Nationals relied heavily on Walter Johnson’s efforts to win the championship, as the team’s offense was not very productive. The first DC baseball championship was won in extra innings by a score of 4-3.

The parallel between Walter Johnson and potential of Stephen Strasburg is encouraging, as Strasburg could return to dominance achieving similar accomplishments to that of Johnson. The winning history of the Nationals was primarily around the time of Walter Johnson and his dominant pitching performances. Strasburg as a rookie captured the hearts of major league baseball similar to that of Walter Johnson. Strasburg’s return to dominance is critical for the Nationals franchise to take the next step, and the team’s management has the plan to build a potential winning franchise.

The fans are critical in the process of developing a winning franchise, as can be seen in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. The Johnny come lately approach will not help the situation, as this franchise will continue to spend the money as long as there is a return on investment. Team product purchases and attendance of ball games will certainly create a winning atmosphere. It will also maintain the attitude by Team management to continue employing ball players that will help win championships. The alumni support is what keeps collegiate athletics growing year after year, and loyal fans grow professional sports franchises similarly. Lack of fan support is keeping major league franchises such as the Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Toronto Blue Jays from returning to championship contention.

The Nationals will become contenders when the fans learn patience and lose the sense of entitlement. We support our team’s effort regardless of the outcome, and the ownership will flip the bill to sustain skilled players that will bring championships. The ownership can not spend money without the return on investment as seen in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. The question for Nationals’ fans remains, do you want to be part of a winning franchise? History shows that the fans fuel the payroll of championship teams more than not. The Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies would not be the franchises they are today without their fans.