Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Washington Nationals

Franchise Timeline: 1859 - 1959

Nov. 7, 1859: The first professional baseball team is founded in Washington, named the Washington Nationals Baseball Club.

May 5, 1869: The first recorded Nationals game takes place on a field called the "White Lot" just south of the White House gates, now known as the Ellipse.

1870: After four years of informal play, Georgetown University's baseball team is founded, making it the school's oldest sport and the first collegiate baseball program in Washington.

April 13, 1883: The first recorded meeting of a professional baseball team and a sitting U.S. President takes place at the White House when the Cleveland Forest Citys meet with Chester A. Arthur.

Jan. 1886: The National League admits the Washington franchise to the National League for the 1886 season. They go on to feature catcher Connie Mack and outfielder William Ellsworth "Dummy" Hoy, the most accomplished deaf player in baseball history. Gallaudet University's baseball field is named Hoy Field in his honor.

March 1900: Washington is one of four franchises contracted when the National League reduces its membership from 12 to eight. Reportedly, the franchise is purchased for $10,000.

Jan. 28, 1901: Former Western League President Ban Johnson formally organizes the American League with eight franchises, including the Washington Senators.

April 26, 1901: The Washington Senators play their first game in the newly established American League against the Philadelphia Athletics at Shibe Park. The Senators win, 5-1.

April 29, 1901: The Washington Senators defeat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-2, in the first American League game played in Washington, D.C.

July 2, 1903: Washington's future Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty is killed when he is swept away over Niagara Falls.

1904-05: Following the 1904 season, Washington's team name changes, effective in 1905, to the Nationals. Newspaper accounts use "Senators," "Nationals" and "Nats" interchangeably for next five decades.

Aug. 2, 1907: 19-year-old Walter Johnson makes his Major League debut with Washington and loses to Detroit, 3-2. The future Hall of Famer gives up his first hit to Ty Cobb, a bunt single.

Sept. 7, 1908: Washington pitcher Walter Johnson shuts out the New York Yankees (then called Highlanders) for the third consecutive game over a span of four days.

April 14, 1910: President William Howard Taft throws the first-ever ceremonial first pitch prior to a Major League Baseball game. Legend has it he also "invents" the seventh-inning stretch when he stands to stretch himself and fans follow suit.

Oct. 30, 1911: Clark Griffith is named manager of the Washington franchise, where he would remain a prominent figure - as manager and then owner - until his death in 1955.