"Watching them cheer, I got goose bumps," closer Chad Cordero said.
"That was something to see, something I'll never forget," outfielder Ryan Church said. "It was like a World Series."
Though the original Senators, who fled to Minnesota in 1961, played in three World Series (1924, '25 and '33, winning the first), the expansion Senators that followed provided all too few moments of even modest glory. Asked why baseball didn't work in D.C. the last time, Jim Woolsey, 68, a Nats fan at last week's home opener, replied, "The team stunk. Simple as that."
"It's like, how many times are you going to watch a horses--- movie?" says Nats coach Tom McCraw, a '71 Senator. "Maybe twice. Once to check it out and another time when a relative comes to town and you need something to do. After that? Forget it. That's what it was like with the Senators."
Bosman, pressed for the seminal moment in expansion Senators history, recalls Sept. 29, 1969, at RFK. "Last series of the year, and we need a sweep for third place, which was a big deal," he says. "[Manager] Ted Williams brings the lineup out to home plate, and the crowd gives him a standing O. It was the closest I ever saw him come to tipping his cap." There were all of 7,436 people at the game that night, or about as many as were in line for hot dogs at RFK last Thursday. The Senators lost 8-5 and finished in fourth place with 86 wins.
There hasn't been an honest-to-goodness pennant race in D.C. since 1945. Last Thursday, as Church cradled the last out, a fly ball, for the first-place Nats at 9:39 p.m. under a clear, black sky that went on forever, anything seemed possible in the center of the free world, even the sweetness of a playoff chase. For though there was still familiarity in the smells, sounds and rhythm of the game 34 years later, baseball in Washington never before looked quite like this--not this new, not this dreamy. ?