1950s prototype Washington Nationals jersey discovered

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Wednesday’s Uni Watch, showed several photos of a prototype 1950 Washington Nationals road jersey from the collection of Tony Cocchi. Apparently, after many years of wearing a block W, there was talk of putting the official team name on the jersey. Back then, Senators and Nationals were used interchangeably, but the former name had more currency than the latter. The original American League team became the Nationals in 1905 because Senators was a “hoodoo nickname.” You may recall the silly “ESTABLISHED 1905″ patch on the 2005 Nats. The 1905 and 1906 Nats jerseys also became the first to have the team name on them before adopting a W or “WASHINGTON” on their jerseys.

In 2004, Charlie Brotman explained to me that he found there was not a consensus on the name and he decided on Senators once and for all when he took over team PR in the mid-1950s. A few years later, in 1959, the jerseys were the first to have a team name in over 50 years — they said “Senators.” That continued the next year too, but then Calvin Griffith moved the team because he was a racist. The expansion Senators continued to use the Senators name on their home (and later road) jerseys until Bob Short moved them to, as Shirley Povich put it, “some jerk town with the single boast it is equidistant from Dallas and Fort Worth.”

I do not know why the “Nationals” jersey did not get used in 1950 — they stuck with a W on both the home and road jerseys, a fairly common look over the years of DC baseball. I wonder if there was a home prototype that looked similar.

When baseball returned to D.C., so did the Nationals nickname — these days, “Senators” might be too offensive. The current Nats pay homage to that on their home and alternate jerseys, but with a curly W over the left breast instead of a block one. For a few years, the current Nats also used a very similar script as the 1950 prototype in their “NatsTown” branding, but the “script curly N” has been replaced with a not-at-all curly N.

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