April 21, 2011
The Phils have a series against the Padres this weekend. In 1974, the Padres were put up for sale. They were almost bought by Joseph Danzansky, who planned on moving them to Washington, DC. The sale was so close to going down that Topps actually made baseball cards with the word Washington above several members of the team. The cards were eventually recalled. Ray Kroc, of McDonald’s fame, bought the team and kept them in San Diego. But they came extremely close to moving to DC, heartbreakingly close for DC baseball fans. The following comes courtesy of a blog called the Beltway Boys:
Padres’ general manager Peter “Buzzie” Bavasi had gathered his staff earlier that day and broke the news to them. They were moving to D.C. Things were so tight, in fact, that he told the group that the team would move to Washington in 1974 “at the latest.” Owner C. Arnold Smith was “broke.”
Though Bavasi admonished his staff to keep their meeting quiet, the story broke in the papers the very next day. Joe Danzansky, president of Giant Foods, was going to purchase the Padres. The team would remain in San Diego for the rest of the year unless “financial concerns” forced them to move later that summer.
For the rest of the summer, baseball fans in Washington were on cloud nine. It wasn’t a matter of “if things work out” or “assuming all parties agree;” It was a done deal and everyone – everyone – were talking of the move as a certainty (though no-one had signed anything at this point).
I’ll never forget Warner Wolf’s sportscast after the move seemed all but certain. After filling in his viewers on the particulars of the move, he finished by saying, “Washington is getting a third chance at baseball. There are a lot of things to be decided but there’s one thing we can’t let happen. Folks, we can’t call ’em the Senators. That name is jinxed! Let’s call ’em the Metros, or the Ambassadors or even the Blue Jays; Anything — anything but the Senators.” And then he smiled into the camera and finished by saying “Baseball is back in Washington! I’m Warner Wolf.”
In fact, baseball wouldn’t be back in Washington for another 31 years.