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1970s / Washington Senators Last Game - 1971
The Washington Senators' 71st and last season in the American League came to a sad and strange end on September 30, 1971. Some 14,000 disenchanted fans came to RFK stadium one last time to see the home team play the New York Yankees in a meaningless contest. Many brought along insulting and obscene banners denouncing team owner Bob Short who had announced the team was relocating to Texas for the 1972 season. Love was showered on the players, though. Even the most mediocre Senators were given hearty cheers when they first came to bat. The loudest ovation was saved for slugging fan favorite Frank Howard who responded with a home run. However, things began to turn ugly in the eighth inning just after the Senators had taken a 7-5 lead. Here's Shirley Povich's account of what happened as it appeared in the next day's Washington Post: "As if in sudden awareness that the end of major-league baseball in Washington was only one inning way, the mood hardened. 'We want Bob Short!' was the cry that picked up in loud and angry chorus, and it was the baying-fury sound of a lynch mob. Then a swarm of young kids, squirts who wouldn't know what it had meant to have a big-league team all these years, or what it would mean to lose one, flooded onto the field from all points of the stands. A public address announcement warned that the home team could forfeit the game unless the field was cleared, and pretty soon the game resumed. It got as far as two out in the ninth, the Senators' 7-5 lead intact, no Yankee on base, when one young rebel from the stands set off again. He grabbed first base and ran off with it. Some unbelievers, undaunted by the warning of forfeit, cheered, and from out of the stands poured hundreds, maybe a couple of thousand fans. They took over the infield, the outfield, grabbed off every base as a souvenir, tried to get the numbers and lights from the scoreboard or anything else removable, and by their numbers left police and the four umpires helpless to intervene. The mad scene on the field, with the athletes of both teams taking refuge in their dugouts, brought official announcement of Yankees 9, Senators 0, baseball's traditional forfeit count almost since Abner Doubleday notched the first baseball score on the handiest twig at Cooperstown. But by then the crowd-mood was philosophical, 'So what?' Or more accurately, 'So what the hell?' The Senators were finished, even if the ball game wasn't."