WASHINGTON (AP) – When the Texas Rangers finally made the World Series, there was only one logical reaction from old-time baseball fans in the nation’s capital.
“First Minnesota, and then Texas. My heavens!” Charlie Brotman said. “Everybody but the real thing is there.”
Brotman was the public address announcer for the Washington Senators, who are now making their long overdue debut in baseball’s biggest show — albeit 39 years and one relocation too late for local supporters.
The Senators left Washington for Texas after the 1971 season, with the final game at RFK Stadium ending in a forfeit when angry fans stormed the field with two outs in the ninth. It was the second blow for D.C. baseball in little over a decade: The original Senators bolted after the 1960 season and became the Minnesota Twins, who won championships in 1987 and 1991.
Tom Grieve made his major league debut with Washington in 1970 and was part of that original team in Texas.
“I lived in Maryland and when I’d drive to the stadium, I’d go past the White House and the monuments. I loved being in D.C. I think most of us loved it there,” Grieve said before Game 2 of the Texas-San Francisco matchup.
“When we first heard we were going to Texas, I’d say the reaction was mostly negative. We didn’t want to move to Texas. It was a football state and still is,” he said.
Grieve played six years for the Rangers, later became their general manager and now announces their games.
“Turned out, Texas became a great place to be,” he said.
So now that the Senators-turned-Rangers are playing for the title, are long-dormant feelings coming back to the surface in D.C. to cheer the team on as it faces the Giants?
It’s safe to say there’s no buzz, not even a ripple, of excitement in Washington about the Rangers.
“The street talk, it’s one of those things, if anything, it’s almost a downer for the Washington fans,” Brotman said. “There’s no real honest-to-goodness feeling for the Texas team. It just isn’t there.”
Brotman said Washington fans felt more of an allegiance to the Twins than they ever did to the Rangers. The original Senators had been around for most of the century and had won American League pennants. The sequel Senators were perpetual losers, led by owner Bob Short.
“When the second Senators team moved to Texas, we disowned them,” Brotman said. “Everybody was so mad at Bob Short. The team was so bad. And we felt it would be only a year or two before we had another team.”
Didn’t happen. The city waited decades for baseball to return, with patience worn beyond thin by the time the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington in 2005.
Now D.C. has its own team – and a new league – to support.
“Since we’re National League now, we’ll probably be rooting for the Giants,” Brotman said. “And we’re not crazy about them, either.”
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)