- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

On the heels of two ninth-inning, on-the-road rallies that defeated the Atlanta Braves, the first-place Washington Nationals come home today to play the first home opener in Washington in 34 very long years. After two previous stints, Major League Baseball officially returns to the nation’s capital, this time beginning what will certainly prove to be a long-term love affair between the Washington Nationals and their baseball-starved fans, more than 20,000 of whom have purchased season tickets.

Today’s Washington ballclub is managed by Hall of Famer Frank Robinson. He is one of only four players in history to hit more than 500 home runs and win a Triple Crown title, which a player captures by leading his league in batting average, runs-batted-in and home runs in the same season. The late Ted Williams — the manager of Washington’s last club, the 1971 Washington Senators — was also a member of that exclusive four-man club. (In the spirit of this baseball-crazed moment, the names of the other two club members will be revealed below as the answer to the first official Washington Nationals Baseball Trivia Quiz, sponsored by the editorial page of The Washington Times.)

Resuming a national tradition initiated by William Howard Taft on this day in 1910, President Bush will throw the first pitch. Fielding the president’s toss will be Nationals catcher Brian Schneider, whose rifle arm has led the majors the last two years gunning down would-be base stealers.

Known as the rather futile Senators during their first four years (1901-04) as a founding member of the upstart American League, the Washington team failed to derail the hard-earned vaudeville epithet coined after the team’s first decade: “Washington — First in War, First in Peace and Last in the American League.”

Without question, the Washington baseball team achieved its finest moment in 1924, the only year a Washington franchise won the World Series. Hall of Famer Walter “Big Train” Johnson — the 36-year-old hurler who led the American League in wins, earned-run average, strikeouts and shutouts — clinched the 1924 world championship against the New York Giants by pitching four scoreless innings in relief and winning the seventh game in the 12th inning. Matching that standard this year is unlikely, of course, but first place on April 14 is still first place.

(Baseball quiz answer: Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Mantle.)

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide