Major League Baseball in Washington highlights
Major League Baseball has selected the Washington, D.C. proposal as its choice for relocation of the Montreal Expos, Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today. Relocation of the club is subject to certain contingencies, including a formal vote of ownership at the next owners' meeting in November and passage of legislation by the District of Columbia Council to provide for financing and construction of a ballpark on the Anacostia River waterfront in Southeast Washington. MLB has also provided the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida the required notice of MLB's intent to move forward with relocating the team.
The D.C. agreement also includes financing for the refurbishing of RFK Stadium, where the Washington, D.C. franchise will play until a new stadium is completed.
"Washington, D.C., as our nation's capital, is one of the world's most important cities and Major League Baseball is gratified at the skill and perseverance shown by Mayor Williams throughout this long process," Selig said. "There has been tremendous growth in the Washington, D.C. area over the last 33 years and we in Major League Baseball believe that baseball will be welcomed there and will be a great success."
Selig also said: "I would like to thank the representatives who worked on behalf of Northern Virginia, Norfolk, VA, Las Vegas, Portland, OR, Monterrey, Mexico and others for devoting so much time and energy in their attempts to bring a Major League Baseball team to their communities."
Washington, D.C. is the largest market in the country in terms of population (5.4 million) and television market size (8th) without a Major League Baseball team.
Concurrent with the D.C. legislative process necessary to fulfill the agreement reached among the D.C. Government, the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and the Expos, Major League Baseball will begin to accept and review bids of prospective ownership groups and expects to have new ownership in place for the beginning of the 2005 season. Details concerning that process will be announced shortly.
Even though Washington, D.C. baseball has a long history with the American League, the team will play in the National League East Division, which in fact marks its return to its baseball roots. The first Washington, D.C. franchise joined the National League in 1886 and was part of the NL, except for a two-year hiatus in 1890-91, until the National League contracted Washington and three other franchises in 1900.
But a year later, Ban Johnson organized the American League and included Washington, D.C. as one of its charter franchises. Although the original Senators were mostly mediocre throughout their history, they fielded one of the game's greatest all-time pitchers, Walter "Big Train" Johnson and made three trips to the World Series, winning it in 1924 in a seven-game series against the New York Giants. In 1925, the Senators lost in seven games to Pittsburgh and lost in five games to the Giants in 1933.
The second incarnation of the Senators came in 1961 in the form of an expansion team. Like its predecessor, the Senators usually finished in the second division and had only one winning season in their 11-year history. The Senators moved after the 1971 season and Washington, D.C. has been without Major League Baseball since then.