The big question is whether the Nationals can significantly improve their odds by making additions through free agency. In many cases, players might be to cost prohibitive for the Nationals, while the trade market won’t yield any fruit because of the depleted state of the organization.
The majority-share owner was by Charles Bronfman, a major shareholder in Seagram. The Expos' initial home was Carry Park.
Managed by Gene Much, 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. 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. Bronfman sold the team to a consortium of owners in 1991, with Claude Brock as the managing general partner.
Rodgers, at that time second only to Gene Much in number of Expos games managed, was replaced partway through the 1991 season. Aloud 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, Moises Aloud, Marquis Frisson 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. Brock sold control of the team to Jeffrey Gloria in 1999, but Gloria 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.
Subsequently, the Boston Red Sox were sold to a partnership led by John W. Henry, owner of the Florida Marlins. In order to clear the way for Henry's group to assume ownership of the Red Sox, Henry sold the Marlins to Gloria, and MLB purchased the Expos from Gloria.
However, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, operator of the Metrodome, won an injunction requiring the Twins to play there in 2002. In the collective bargaining agreement signed with the Major League Baseball Players Association (ML BPA) in August 2002, contraction was prohibited until the end of the contract in 2006.
By that time, the Expos had become the WashingtonNationals and the Twins had made sufficient progress towards the eventual building of a new baseball-specific stadium that contraction was no longer on the agenda. On September 29, 2004, MLB announced the Expos would move to Washington, D.C., in 2005.
On November 15, a lawsuit by the former team owners against MLB and former majority owner Jeffrey Gloria 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, D.C., in a 28–1 vote on December 3 (Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelo's cast the sole dissenting vote).
Although there was some sentiment to revive the name Senators when the Montreal Expos franchise moved to Washington in 2005, legal and political considerations factored into the choice of Nationals, a revival of the first American League franchise's official name used from 1901 to 1956. In addition, the Rangers still owned the rights to the Senators name, although the Nationals were able to acquire the rights to the curly “W” logo from the Rangers.
On November 21, 2004, the team's management chose the name WashingtonNationals “. The club's official colors of red, white, and blue were revealed the next day.
The game was nationally televised on ESPN and former U.S. President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch. Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run to win the first game in the new stadium.
When Ted Lerner took over the club in mid-2006, he hired Stan Fasten as team president. Fasten was widely known as the architect of the Atlanta Braves before and during their run of 14 division titles.
“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. The Nationals began building the foundations of a contender with their first-overall draft picks of Stephen Strasbourg (in 2009) and Bryce Harper (in 2010).
In 2011, they signed Jayson Worth to the team's first big free agent contract. With a mix of homegrown players and players acquired via trade and free agency, the Nationals clinched their first playoff berth and first division title in 2012.
They were knocked out of the 2012 NLS by the St. Louis Cardinals in five games after the Cardinals took the lead with two outs in the top of the ninth of game 5. After missing the playoffs in 2013, they hired Matt Williams as manager and rebounded to win their second division title in 2014, but were eliminated in the 2014 NLS by the San Francisco Giants.
They missed the playoffs again in a turbulent 2015 season, leading to Williams' firing. The team hired veteran manager Dusty Baker in 2016, and returned to the playoffs only to be eliminated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2016 NLS in five games.
They won the NL East title in 2017, but were eliminated in the NLS yet again after losing game 5 to the Chicago Cubs. Baker's contract was not renewed after the 2017 playoff loss, and the team hired Dave Martinez as their sixth manager in ten years.
After the 2018 season, star slugger Bryce Harper left the team via free agency, signing with the rival Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals began the 2019 season with a record of 19–31, with their reported chances of winning the WorldSeries at that time being 1.5 percent.
They went from there with a 74–38 record, finishing with an overall record of 93-69 and earning a spot in the 2019 National League Wild Card Game, which they won over the Milwaukee Brewers 4–3. In the NLS, the Nationals defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games, propelling them past the divisional round for the first time in franchise history.
The Nationals then swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the LCS, giving them their first NL pennant. The team then defeated the Houston Astros in game seven of the 2019 WorldSeries, giving them their first WorldSeries championship, with Strasbourg being voted series MVP.
The Nationals original home uniforms contained the team name and numbers in red with gold bevels and navy trim, and were paired with the all-red “curly W” cap. The road uniforms contained the city name and numbers in navy with gold bevels and red trim, and were paired with the all-navy “curly W” cap.
The front letters of both uniforms formed a distinct bridge-like shape. This set was joined the following season by a red alternate uniform, which featured the interlocking “DC” in white with gold bevels and navy trim, as well as numbers in navy with gold bevels and white trim.
The red alternates were paired with the all-red “DC” cap. In their inaugural season, the patch featured gold accents, the full team name and two gold stars on the outer navy circle, and the interlocking “DC” on the inner red circle.
The patch was tweaked the following season, eliminating the team name in favor of nine gold stars and relegating red to trim color. The road uniform now featured a script rendition of the city name in front of the gold bevels, with the letters now rendered in red with navy trim.
The red alternate replaced the “DC” logo with the “curly W” logo, and numbers changed to white with gold bevels and navy trim. Gold was eliminated and the emphasis was on the “curly W” logo, which was prominently featured on the home and red alternate uniforms.
The sleeve patch was updated to feature the primary roundel logo. In 2018 the Nationals released a navy alternate uniform, featuring a script rendition of the team name in white with red trim along with red numbers.
A pair of white-paneled and red-brimmed alternate caps were also added: one in navy with the United States Capitol dome superimposed over a white block “W”, and another in red with a navy block “W” superimposed over the silhouette of a pitcher. Both designs paid homage to the original Washington Senators (now Minnesota Twins) and the expansion Washington Senators (now Texas Rangers).
For most of the 2020 season, the Nationals wore gold-accented versions of the new white uniforms in celebration of their WorldSeries championship, along with all-red caps with the gold “curly W” logo. The script white alternates made their on-field debut on the final regular season home game September 27 against the New York Mets, and were paired with the “Capitol W” cap.
The Nationals did not wear their “curly W” uniforms throughout that shortened season. In 2009, the Nationals unveiled a navy alternate uniform for games that fell during Independence Day week.
The uniform featured the “interlocking DC” logo rendered in the Stars and Stripes motif, along with white/red piping and white numbers with gold bevels and red trim. The original primary logo was added to the left sleeve, and a navy cap with red brim containing the aforementioned “DC flag” logo was used.
In 2011, the uniform was tweaked to feature the “curly W” in Stars and Stripes, along with updated logos and the removal of gold accents. The road navy cap was originally used with this uniform, but in 2016 it was replaced by a similar design, except the “curly W” which was now rendered in the Stars and Stripes.
This design was used until 2019, during which the uniform was no longer exclusively worn on Independence Day week. In 2017 a white version of the “Stars and Stripes” alternate was released; this one is paired with the navy-brimmed red cap featuring the “curly W” in Stars and Stripes.
When Washington wore Expos throwback jerseys on July 6, 2019, catcher An Gomes wore his usual number 10, even though the number is retired by the Expos, for Andre Dawson and Rusty Stab. On August 10, 2010, the Nationals unveiled a “Ring of Honor” at Nationals Park to honor National Baseball Hall of Fame members who had played “significant years” for the WashingtonNationals, original Washington Senators (1901–1960), expansion Washington Senators (1961–1971), Homestead Grays, or Montreal Expos.
Although Nationals fans generally take little interest in the franchise's Montreal years, some do appreciate acknowledging that the franchise has a history that predates its arrival in Washington, and former Expo Tim Rains received a warm round of applause from fans at Nationals Park at his induction ceremony on August 28, 2017, even though he had never even visited Washington, D.C., before, let alone played baseball there. Some Montreal Expos fans express appreciation that the Nationals are honoring the Expos, and Expos players inducted into the Ring of Honor have expressed gratitude that the Nationals chose to include them, especially with no MLB team in Montreal to honor their careers.
However, few Nationals fans have taken an interest in franchise records, preferring to compare Nationals records with those of previous Washington MLB teams instead, and a segment of Nationals fans actively opposes the inclusion of Expos history into that of the Nationals, taking the view that the Montreal years are irrelevant to Washington and that the team made a complete break with its past and started anew when it arrived in Washington, inheriting the history of the two Washington Senators teams rather than that of the Expos. Observers also have noted that the admission of the first Nationals' player to the Ring of Honor, Ivan “Judge” Rodríguez, although he was well-liked as a National, highlights another awkward aspect of the Ring of Honor's acceptance criteria, because Rodriguez's inclusion arose out of his admission to the National Baseball Hall of Fame based on his exploits for other teams, not out of anything he did during a 155-game, two-season stint with the Nationals at the end of his career in years in which the Nationals posted mediocre records.
Inductee Position Tenure Admitted 8 Gary Carter C1974–1984, 1992August 10, 2010 10 Andre Dawson CF1976–1986August 10, 2010 30 Tim Rains LF1979–1990, 2001August 28, 2017 20 Frank Robinson Manager2002–2004May 9, 2015 WashingtonNationals No. Inductee Position Tenure Admitted 20 Frank Robinson Manager2005–2006May 9, 2015 7 Ivan “Judge” Rodríguez C2010–2011August 28, 2017 28 Jayson Worth RF, LF2011–2017September 8, 2018 Washington Senators (original team, 1901–1960) No.
In 2017, the Nationals moved their spring training operations to The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, a new facility they share with the Houston Astros in West Palm Beach, Florida; they played their first Grapefruit League game there on February 28, 2017. On February 16, 2018, it was renamed FITTED Ballpark of the Palm Beaches after the Nationals and Actors signed a 12-year deal for the naming rights to the stadium that day with FITTED, an event brand partnership and organic products firm located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
JAZZ (104.1 FM), which carried games in the 2005 season, was the team's first flagship radio station. Previously, DCA (channel 20) carried 76 games in the 2005 season while the newly founded MAIN was still negotiating cable carriage.
From 2009 through 2017, MAIN syndicated a package of 20 games for simulcast on an over-the-air television station in Washington. In the midst of a season in which they finished with the worst record in Major League Baseball, the Nationals television ratings were among the worst in the National League in July 2008 but increased during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Since 2012, when they began to achieve consistent success on the field, their television viewership has grown continually and dramatically. By 2016, the Nationals prime-time television ratings were 15th highest among the 29 U.S. MLB teams, and they rose to 12th in 2017.
^ a b During 2011, Rifleman and McLaren combined with Davey Johnson for an 80–81 (.497), third-place finish. ^ The Ring of Honor should not be confused with the Washington Hall of Stars.
Nationals hold true to color code”. Each incarnation of the Senators, dating back to 1901, shares a common bond: the red, white and blue.
Each team has featured the patriotic theme of colors on their uniforms. ^ “MLB and Nationals unveil the official logo of 2018 All-Star Game”.
The official logo of the 2018 All-Star Game is as patriotic as its iconic setting. The focal point of the mark is the pristine white United States Capitol dome, which is crowned with the bronze Statue of Freedom.
A U.S. flag proudly waves behind it, while the logo is surrounded by a ring of stars. The ribbon proudly states the location and year of the Midsummer Classic, and to punctuate the mark, the MLB batter is in the colors of scarlet and navy honoring the host franchise.
“Mark Lerner named Nat's' managing principal owner”. Nationals owner Ted Lerner, 92, to cede control of club to his son, Mark”.
^ Washington Nationals Team History & Encyclopedia”. ^ Washington Nationals Team History & Encyclopedia | Baseball-Reference.com”.
^ Washington Blue Legs Team History & Encyclopedia | Baseball-Reference.com”. ^ Washington Nationals Team History & Encyclopedia | Baseball-Reference.com”.
^ Washington Nationals Team History & Encyclopedia | Baseball-Reference.com”. ^ Washington Nationals Team History & Encyclopedia | Baseball-Reference.com”.
“Brock group goes to bat for baseball survival here; Expos sale official as Bronfman era ends”. “Expos to field better team, Gloria says Ebullient new chairman vows to increase salary limit, build new ballpark for 2002 season”.
The link between baseball and the DC voting rights movement is a natural one. The decision to name the new Washington -area major league team the Nationals instead of the Senators (the name of D.C.'s former baseball team) stems directly from the District's more than 200-year history of being denied voting rights in Congress.
(Re-naming the team The Senators would have been something akin to a sick joke, given the District's disenfranchisement.) “JFK Dugouts Get Preseason Expansion For Nationals ".
Nationals win first World Series title, storming back on Actors in Game 7, 6-2”. ^ “For heroic Nationals, ghosts of playoffs past are busted in Game 5”.
“LCS Game 4: Nationals complete sweep to clinch first-ever World Series appearance”. “Stephen Strasbourg named World Series MVP after dominant postseason”.
“Senators legend Frank Howard is humbled and thrilled to enter the Nat's' Ring of Honor”. “On Jayson Worth night, former outfielder reminds Nationals of better days”.
^ “It meant a great deal to Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Frank Robinson that the Nationals recognized them”. “Rodríguez and Rains proud of Nat's Ring of Honor induction”.
“Nat's Park Ring of Honor adding two new players (who combined to play 155 games in D.C.)” . ^ Woodwork, Rob, “Worth to be added to Nat's Ring of Honor,” wtop.com, July 13, 2018, 3:44 a.m. EDT Retrieved August 16, 2018.
^ Anonymous, “'Bucky' Harris field no longer a dream” The Times Leader, October 21, 2007 ^ “Frank Robinson inducted into Nationals Ring of Honor”. “Frank Howard says Bryce Harper 'hasn't even begun to scratch the surface “.
^ Washington Nationals Attendance, Stadiums, and Park Factors | Baseball-Reference.com”. ^ Doris, Tony, “New first name for Ballpark of the Palm Beaches: Fit team,” February 16, 2018, 3:35 p.m. EST.
^ Washington Nationals to unveil Youth Baseball Academy in Southeast D.C.” washingtonpost.com. ^ Washington Nationals Join Civic, Community Organizations to Build Miracle Field”.
^ “San tangelo set to join Nat's' TV team”. ^ “Rob Dibble Fired by Nationals in Wake of Stephen Strasbourg Comments”.
^ Bog age, Jacob, Nationals, Orioles games won't air regularly on local broadcast TV,” washingtonpost.com, March 29, 2018. ^ Brown, Mary, “Here Are The 2017 MLB Prime-Time Television Ratings For Each Team,” forbes.com, October 10, 2017, 7:00 a.m. ^ Brown, Mary, “2018 MLB Regional TV Ratings In Prime-Time Shows Continued Strong Popularity”, Forbes, October 4, 2018.