The Nationals head to Minnesota again for some reason to take on the hated Twins. The Twins of course, were the original Senators until after the 1960 season when they were moved by Calvin Griffith, nephew and adopted son of Clark Griffith, one of the game’s patriarchs. Calvin had promised to keep the team in Washington, but was actually scouting out other locations. From his Post obit:
On Jan. 15, 1958, Calvin wrote an article in The Washington Post that began: “I have lived in Washington, D.C. for about 35 years. I attended school here and established many roots here. The city has been good to my family and me. This is my home. I intend that it shall remain my home for the rest of my life. As long as I have any say in the matter, and I expect that I shall for a long, long time, the Washington Senators will stay here, too. Next year. The year after. Forever.”
Apparently, forever ended in 1960. Just as the Senators and Harmon Killebrew were on the rise, Calvin moved them. An expansion team showed up in 1961, but it was never run well and left in ‘71.
In 1978, the real reasons became clear:
I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don’t go to ballgames, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking white people here.
So, he killed 60 year tradition because he was a racist. I guess the bright side is that D.C. didn’t have to deal with him anymore. Minnesotans must have felt great knowing that if not for racism, they would not have had a team.
By the way, the book Beyond the Shadow of the Senators explores the history of Negro League baseball in Washington and argues that had Clark Griffith integrated, he probably could have made the team successful in Washington.
Another reason to hate the Twins — they play on a carpet, in a dome, though they are moving outdoors in a few years.