Nationals make room for both D.C. and Montreal in new record book

Long-gone Senators, Expos aren't forgotten in integrated guide


April 06, 2005|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Like politicians eager not to alienate their constituents, the Washington Nationals quietly and diplomatically decided to include the records of the Washington Senators in their media guide and to pay homage to the old club in other ways.

It was not an automatic decision. The Nationals - the former Montreal Expos beginning their first season in Washington - could have ignored the long-gone Senators and included only Expos marks.

After all, the Senators have no link to the Nationals other than the fact that they once played in the same city and in 43-year-old RFK Stadium. Purists may argue that the only franchise records that matter are those of Nationals players and their Expos predecessors.

But after discussions within the organization and with the Elias Sports Bureau and Major League Baseball, the club decided it could not slight the Senators, who became the Texas Rangers in 1972 but were never forgotten here.

"We'd be remiss to ignore what's happened in the past, even though we're not the Senators," said Nationals spokesman John Dever. "If someone has a nice season in home runs, we thought it would resonate much more to compare it to something Frank Howard [of the Senators] did rather than something Vladimir Guerrero did for the Expos up at Olympic Stadium."

Thus, readers of the media guide will have ready information about Howard's home run achievements and Walter Johnson's pitching statistics, including the Hall of Famer's 36 wins in 1913. In all, the Senators' portion of the guide takes up about five pages. The Expos' portion accounts for 13 pages.

"I thought it was a nice decision," said John Labombarda of the Elias Sports Bureau, which helped the Nationals compile the Senators' marks. "What the Nationals want to put in their record book is totally up to them."

The guide will make it clear that the varying sets of records are distinct.

"Ten years from now, there might be three sections in the Nationals' record book," Labombarda said. One section would be for Expos-Nationals, one for Nationals only and a third for Washington baseball that would include the Senators and Nationals.

Washington has had other baseball teams besides the Nationals and Senators. Before 1900, the city hosted clubs in the American Association, the Union Association and the National League. The media guide reflects those clubs' records.

Jim Hannan, a Senators pitcher from 1962 through 1970, said: "I think it's appropriate that they include our records. There is a long tradition in Washington. My playing days are over, so this is probably my last hurrah."

The decision to include the Senators is not without precedent. The action is akin to the NFL's Ravens including three pages of "Baltimore Pro Football Records," in which the marks of the Ravens and the departed Colts are listed together.

A notation in the guide says the combined records are "meant to honor the players and teams that represented the citizens of Baltimore for so many years; plus, give a historical perspective to Baltimore pro football history."

The Ravens have a statue of Colts Hall of Famer John Unitas outside their stadium. Officials from the Nationals and D.C. government said they would like to honor Senators greats in a similar fashion, but haven't yet determined exactly how.

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