Washington Nationals: Birth Of A Franchise

rjuckett
Aug 23, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals mascot "Screech" waves a flag on the field after the Nationals
Aug 23, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals mascot "Screech" waves a flag on the field after the Nationals /
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BASEBALL COMES BACK TO DC

On April 14, 2005, in front of over 45,000 at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, Craig Counsell dug in for the Arizona Diamondbacks against Livan Hernandez and struck out looking.

It was their tenth game of the year, but the new Washington Nationals were finally home.

A search of sites from Portland, Oregon to San Juan happened throughout the 2004 season. Groups in Northern Virginia wanted to land the Expos, but Washington had an MLB-ready stadium ready to go with RFK. Once the deal came together for land near the Anacostia River for a new home by the Navy Yard, Washington had a team.

For 33 years, there was no baseball. Now, a crumbling team called an old place home. That first year, the vagabond Expos—now Nationals—contended for the NL East title. With Frank Robinson as manager, the team stumbled down the stretch, but finished above .500.

Home opened for the 2008 season, a mix of classic and modern architecture, called Nationals Park. When MLB sold the club to the Lerner family, the team had stability not realized for a generation.

After 72 seasons of American League baseball, Washington became an NL town. New rivalries formed with the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. With interleague play, those Orioles call every year.

It is a different game now.

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