Sources: Expos to Be Renamed Nationals

Friday, November 19th 2004, 8:09 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Montreal Expos are about to get their new name: the Washington Nationals. A city official and a baseball official, both speaking on condition of anonymity, said Friday that the team will reveal its new name, cap and red-white-and-blue color scheme during a news conference Monday.

The search for a new name began Sept. 29, when Major League Baseball announced it planned to relocate the team for the 2005 season. Initially, the plan was to wait until the team was sold to select the name, but the sale process is expected to take months _ and the team needs to start marketing itself in its new home city immediately.

The top contenders were Nationals, Senators and Grays, with Senators the sentimental favorite. The original American League Senators played in the nation's capital from 1901-60 before moving to Minnesota to become the Twins. The expansion Senators called Washington home from 1961-71 before moving to Texas to become the Rangers. Senators was also the preference of commissioner Bud Selig, even though the Rangers still hold the rights to the name.

But Mayor Anthony Williams objected, saying the name isn't appropriate, given the District of Columbia's lack of representation in the U.S. Senate.

``We don't have senators here,'' the mayor said in September. ``Give us two senators, and I'll be happy to call them the Senators.''

Williams preferred the Grays, a tribute to the Homestead Grays, a Negro League team that played many of its games in Washington in the 1930s and 1940s. Historians, however, noted that the Grays' real home was Pittsburgh.

The compromise was Nationals. The Nationals, or Nats, was considered the original official nickname of the 1901-60 team. But fans instead adopted Senators, which was the name of two National League teams in Washington in the late 1800s.

Baseball owners still must approve the move. They delayed a vote when they met Thursday but said one will take place by Dec. 6. The relocation is also contingent on the D.C. government enacting legislation by Dec. 31 to finance a new ballpark.