Washington Nationals

This article is about the current Major League Baseball team. For other uses, see Washington Nationals (disambiguation).
Washington Nationals
2016 Washington Nationals season
Established in 1969
Based in Washington, D.C. since 2005
Team logoCap insignia
Major league affiliations
Current uniform
Retired numbers 42
  • Red, Navy Blue, White[1]
Other nicknames
  • Nats
Major league titles
East Division titles (4)
Front office
Owner(s) Ted Lerner
Manager Dusty Baker
General Manager Mike Rizzo
President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo

The Washington Nationals are a professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C. The Nationals compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) East division. From 2005 to 2007, the team played in RFK Stadium; since 2008 their home stadium has been Nationals Park on South Capitol Street in Southeast D.C., near the Anacostia River.[2]

As the Major League Baseball team in the U.S. capital, the Nationals are the successors to the original Washington Nationals, renamed Senators in 1956 (both "Nats" for short). A Washington Senators team — one from 1891 to 1899 played in the early National League, the American League Nationals from 1901 to 1960 (becoming the Senators in 1956) then moving to Minnesota to become the Minnesota Twins. The expansion Senators existed from 1961 to 1971 then moved to Arlington as the Texas Rangers.

An expansion franchise, National League club was founded in 1969 as the Montreal Expos, the first major league team in Canada.[3] They were based in Montreal, 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 franchise 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.[4][5] After being purchased by MLB in 2002, the team was moved before the 2005 season to Washington, D.C. and renamed the Nationals, the first relocation since the expansion Washington Senators moved to Arlington, Texas, and became the Texas Rangers in 1972.

Including their time in Montreal, the Nationals are one of two franchises, and the only one in the National League, never to have played in a World Series. (The American League's Seattle Mariners are the other).[6][7]


Montreal Expos

Main article: Montreal Expos

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.[8][9] 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 manager, becoming the first Dominican-born manager in MLB history.[8] 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,[10][11] 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

In November 2001, Major League Baseball's owners voted 28–2 to contract the league by two teams — according to various sources, the Expos and the Minnesota Twins, both of which reportedly voted against contraction.[12] Subsequently, the Boston Red Sox were sold to a partnership led by John W. Henry, owner of the Florida Marlins.[12][13] In order to clear the way for Henry's group to assume ownership of the Red Sox, Henry sold the Marlins to Loria, and baseball purchased the Expos from Loria.[12] However, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, operator of the Metrodome, won an injunction requiring the Twins to play there in 2002.[12] Because MLB was unable to revoke the Twins franchise, it was compelled to keep both the Twins and Expos as part of the regular season schedule. In the collective bargaining agreement signed with the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) in August 2002, contraction was prohibited until the end of the contract in 2006.[14] By that time, the Expos had become the Washington Nationals 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.

Creation of the Nationals

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; 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, D.C. 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.[15][16]

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

Numerous professional baseball teams have called Washington, D.C. home. The Washington Senators, a founding member of the American League (AL), played in the nation's capital from 1901 to 1960 before moving to Minnesota and becoming the Twins. The original Washington American League Base Ball Club was founded by three local businessmen: Edward J. Walsh, Benjamin Minor, and Harry Rapley. Clark Griffith was hired as manager in 1912 and became a part owner, accumulating majority shares in later years. The stadium, known as Washington American League Base Ball Park, later became known as Griffith Stadium. With notable stars including Walter Johnson and Joe Cronin, the Senators won the 1924 World Series and pennants in 1925 and 1933. The franchise became more successful after moving to Minnesota for the 1961 season to be renamed the Minnesota Twins. A second Washington Senators team (1961–1971) had a winning record only once in its 11 years, although it featured slugger Frank Howard, who was inducted into the Ring of Fame at the new Nationals Park in 2016. This team was notable also because Ted Williams was manager in 1971. The expansion Senators moved to Arlington, Texas for the 1972 season and changed its name to the Texas Rangers. The city of Washington spent the next 33 years without a baseball team.

Although there was some sentiment to revive the name Senators when the Montreal Expos franchise moved to Washington in 2005, political considerations factored into the choice of Nationals, a revival of the first American League franchise's official name used from 1901 to 1956.[17] 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.[18] In addition, the Rangers still owned the rights to the Senators name,[19] although the Nationals were able to acquire the rights to the curly "W" logo from the Rangers.

Washington, D.C., mayor Anthony A. Williams supported the name "Washington Grays", in honor of the Negro-league team the Homestead Grays (1929–1950), which had been based in Pittsburgh, but played many of their home games in Washington. In the end, the team owners chose the name "Washington Nationals."

Washington Nationals

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.[20]

Thanks to back-to-back No. 1 picks of Stephen Strasburg (in 2009) and Bryce Harper (in 2010), and other strong moves to their farm system, the Nationals became a contending team by 2012, winning division titles in 2012, 2014, and 2016.[21] In April 2015, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Nationals Park was selected by Major League Baseball to host the 2018 All Star Game.[22]

People of note


ManagerTime periodRegular season[23]Post-season[24]Totals
WinsLossesWin %Best finishWinsLossesWin %Post-seasonWinsLossesWin %
Frank Robinson2005–200615217246.9% 00Never made post-season15217246.9%
Manny Acta2007–200915825238.5% 00Never made post-season15825238.5%
Jim Riggleman2009–201114017244.9% 00Never made post-season14017244.9%
John McLaren (interim)20112166.7% 00Never made post-season2166.7%
Davey Johnson2011–201322418355% 2340%201222618654.9%
Matt Williams2014–201517914555.2% 1325%201418014854.9%
Dusty Baker2016–present95 67 58.6% 2 3 40% 2016 97 70 58.1%


Current roster

Washington Nationals 2017 spring training roster
40-man roster Non-roster invitees Coaches/Other









37 active, 0 inactive, 5 non-roster invitees

7- or 10-day disabled list
* Not on active roster
Suspended list
Roster, coaches, and NRIs updated December 7, 2016
TransactionsDepth Chart
All MLB rosters

Baseball Hall of Famers

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

Gary Carter

Andre Dawson

Randy Johnson
Pedro Martínez

Tony Pérez

Dick Williams2

Washington Nationals

Frank Robinson1

  • Players and managers 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

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


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.[25] Following the move to Washington, D.C., the numbers (except 42) were returned to circulation and remain in use as of 2016, although the "Team History" section of the Nationals' website continues to refer to the numbers as "retired."[25] After the Expos' departure from Montreal, the National Hockey League′s Montreal Canadiens hung a banner in Bell Centre honoring the Expos' retired numbers.

Ring of Honor

On August 10, 2010, the Nationals unveiled a "Ring of Honor"[note 1] at Nationals Park to honor Major League Baseball Hall of Fame members who had played "significant years" for the Washington Nationals, original Washington Senators (1901–1960), expansion Washington Senators (1961–1971), Homestead Grays, or Montreal Expos.[26][27] In late August 2016, the team dropped the criterion that an inductee be a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, opening membership to "anyone who has made a significant contribution to the game of baseball in Washington, D.C.;"[27] the first inductee under the new criteria was Frank Howard.[27] The ring includes:[26][27][28][29][30]

Homestead Grays

Montreal Expos

Washington Nationals

Washington Senators (original team, 1901–1960)

Washington Senators (expansion team, 1961–1971)

Attendance and fans



Season Stadium Attendance Rank in National League
2005 RFK Stadium 2,731,993 8th (of 16)
2006 RFK Stadium 2,153,056 11th (of 16)
2007 RFK Stadium 1,943,812 14th (of 16)
2008 Nationals Park 2,320,400 13th (of 16)
2009 Nationals Park 1,817,226 13th (of 16)
2010 Nationals Park 1,828,066 14th (of 16)
2011 Nationals Park 1,940,478 14th (of 16)
2012 Nationals Park 2,370,794 9th (of 16)
2013 Nationals Park 2,652,422 6th (of 15)
2014 Nationals Park 2,579,389 7th (of 15)
2015 Nationals Park 2,619,843 5th (of 15)

Prominent fans

"Rubber Chicken Man" Hugh Kaufman cheers on the Washington Nationals with baseball writer Paul Dickson. Kaufman waves a rubber chicken over the Nats' dugout to ward off bad luck, and sometimes ritually "sacrifices" them to improve team performance.

One prominent fan is "Rubber Chicken Man" Hugh Kaufman, who waves a rubber chicken over the dugout to ward off "JuJu". Local sports writers have noted that his ritual "sacrifices" of rubber chickens often precede turnarounds in the Nationals' performance.[42] Kaufman has built a following at the Stadium and in 2013 started a group called the "Secret Society of the Rubber Chicken" that now claims several Nationals players among its members.[43]

Season standings

Standings updated on October 4, 2015

League[44] Division[44] Regular season Postseason Awards
Finish Wins Losses Win% GB
2005 2005 NL East 5th 81 81 .500 9 Chad CorderoRolaids Relief Man
2006 2006 NL East 5th 71 91 .438 26 Alfonso SorianoSilver Slugger
2007 2007 NL East 4th 73 89 .451 18 Dmitri Young"Players Choice Awards" NL Comeback Player[45]
2008 2008 NL East 5th 59 102 .366 32½
2009 2009 NL East 5th 59 103 .364 34 Ryan ZimmermanGold 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 NL East Division by 4 games; lost NLDS 2–3 Adam LaRoche—Silver Slugger and Gold Glove
Ian Desmond—Silver Slugger
Stephen Strasburg—Silver Slugger
Bryce HarperNational League Rookie of the Year
Davey JohnsonNational League Manager of the Year
2013 2013 NL East 2nd 86 76 .531 10 Ian Desmond—Silver Slugger
2014 2014 NL East 1st 96 66 .593 Won NL East Division by 17 games; lost NLDS 1–3 Ian Desmond—Silver Slugger
Anthony Rendon—Silver Slugger
Wilson RamosTony Conigliaro Award
Matt Williams—National League Manager of the Year
2015 2015 NL East 2nd 83 79 .512 7 Bryce Harper—National League Most Valuable Player, Silver Slugger, Hank Aaron Award, "Players Choice Awards" NL Outstanding Player, Esurance MLB Awards for Best Major Leaguer and Best Everyday Player

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

Minor league affiliations

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

Level League Team (Seasons)
AAA International League Columbus Clippers (2007–08)
New Orleans Zephyrs (2005–06)
Edmonton Trappers (2003–04)
Ottawa Lynx (1993–2002)
Indianapolis Indians (1984–92)
Wichita Aeros (1982–83)
Denver Bears (1976–81)
Memphis Blues (1974–75)
Peninsula Whips (1972–73)
Winnipeg Whips (1971)
Buffalo Bisons (1970)
Vancouver Mounties (1969)
AA Southern League Jacksonville Suns (1984–1990)
Memphis Chicks (1978–83)
Quebec Metros (1976–77)
Quebec Carnavals (1971–75)
Jacksonville Suns (1970)
A California League San Jose Expos (1982)
Carolina League Kinston Expos (1974)
Florida State League Brevard County Manatees (2002–04)
Jupiter Hammerheads (1998–2001)
West Palm Beach Expos (1969–1997)
Midwest League Clinton Lumber Kings (2001–02)
Burlington Expos (1993–94)
Rockford Expos (1988–92)
Burlington Bees (1986–87)
South Atlantic League Savannah Sand Gnats (2003–06)
Cape Fear Crocs (1997–2000)
Delmarva Shorebirds (1996)
Albany Polecats (1995)
Albany Polecats (1992)
Sumter Flyers (1991)
Gastonia Expos (1983–84)
Short Season A New York–Penn League Vermont Expos/Lake Monsters (1977–2010)
Jamestown Expos (1973)
Northern League Watertown Expos (1970–71)

Nationals Dream Foundation

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.[46]

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."[47] 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." [48]

Radio and television

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 WFED (1500 AM), which had been the flagship station since the 2006 season[49] until a multi-year agreement was reached between the Nationals and WJFK before the 2011 season.[50] WJFK (1580 AM) airs any games that WFED is unable to air due to conflicts.

The other former flagship is WWZZ (104.1 FM), which carried games in the 2005 season.[51]

Nationals' telecasts are predominantly on Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), with a few games picked up for free TV by Fox by way of WTTG. MASN simulcasts 20 games per season (the season opener plus 19 weekend games) on free TV in the Washington area, on WUSA.[52] Bob Carpenter is the TV play-by-play announcer and F.P. Santangelo was hired in January 2011 as color analyst.[53] 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.[53][54] Ray Knight and Johnny Holliday host the postgame show "Nats Xtra". Knight filled in as color analyst in September 2010 after Dibble was fired.[53]

TV ratings were among the worst in the league as of July 2008[55][56] but increased during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.[57][58]

Nationals vs. Orioles

Beltway Series

The Nationals have an interleague rivalry with the nearby Baltimore Orioles nicknamed the Beltway Series. The teams have played two series a season – one in Baltimore and one in Washington – since 2006.


  1. The Ring of Honor should not be confused with the Washington Hall of Stars.


  1. a RFK Stadium Fast Facts


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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Washington Nationals.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves
New York Mets
National League Eastern Division Champions
1981 (as Montreal Expos)
Succeeded by
St. Louis Cardinals
Atlanta Braves
New York Mets
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