Nationals End Inaugural Season

By Carla Peay
Updated: October 3, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C.–“There is a sadness. It looks like it’s gone by so quickly. It’s hard to believe it’s the last game of the season. You really don’t know how to react, but you see everybody packing up and you’re packing up, and everybody’s telling you it’s the last game so it must be the last game.”

National’s manager Frank Robinson saw the boxes in the clubhouse, the signed souvenirs being exchanged, the hugs and handshakes among his team. He was finally convinced. It really was the last game of the season. But it wasn’t like any season he’d ever been through before.

“This was not an average 162 games. Number one, you have to look at the first half of the season. It was just a magical type of season, that first half. Things just went right for us. When we needed the big hit, we got the big hit. When we needed the big pitch, we got the big pitch. When we needed a big play in the field, we got that. But we knew we couldn’t keep that up over a 162 game schedule.”

The National’s spent seven weeks in first place, posting a 50-31 record in the first half of the season. Then came the post All-Star slump, and the team was unable to regain its early season form.

“The second half was kind of like a nightmare. Why has this team been this different from the first half team? We came right out of the (All-Star) break and this thing hit us. That’s the strange part about it. We just never put it together in the second half, and we’re trying to figure out what went wrong. But I don’t want to point fingers, because I still think this was a successful season for this organization. Was it as good and as successful as we would have liked to have it? No, of course not. But I don’t think anyone should be disappointed or upset. It just wasn’t our year to put it all together.”

Despite the 81-81 record the team finished up with, and the 9-3 loss to Philadelphia in the final game of the season, many of the fans at RFK remained in place to give the players a standing ovation. The Nationals players came out of the dugout to greet them, wave to them, and toss out souvenirs.

“It was very special”, Robinson said of the fans post-game tribute.

“The fans have been special all year long. They show a lot of class. They have a lot of feelings for this ballclub and this ballclub had a lot of feelings for them. Without these fans, we probably wouldn’t have had the season that we did have. It’s an outstanding group of people, not only here (at RFK) but out in the community. When we’re out on the street, they were always pumping us up. Even if we’d just played a terrible ballgame, they’d say, don’t worry about it. We’re just happy to have you here. It’s been very special. I’ve never been connected with anything like this before.”

“These guys played right up until the end, and that’s what I’m proudest of, the way they just kept the energy level up and gave it all they had, all year long. It would have been a real fairy tale if we could have pulled this thing off. They wouldn’t have touched this in Hollywood if we had won this year.”