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raysfan24

Introducing the Washington Padres

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Yes, the Washington Padres. Here is the story,

Before the 1974 season began, the Padres were on the verge of being sold to Joseph Danzansky, who was planning to move the franchise to Washington, D.C. by the beginning of the 1974 season. People were so convinced the transfer would happen that new uniforms were designed. Even the baseball card companies were fooled. About half of the Padres' player cards printed by Topps that season displayed "Washington National League" as the team name. But C. Arnholt Smith changed his mind, and instead sold the Padres to McDonald's co-founder Ray Kroc, who was not interested in moving the team and kept the team in San Diego.

Here is the ugly uniform that was designed for the Washington Padres:

dave-freisleben-washington-padres.jpg

Willie McCovey's baseball card. Note the Washington as a team name:

1974-topps-willie-mccovey.jpg

The reason I posted this is I wanted to know if anybody knew about this? I sure didn't!

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I think there was an article in here but really not sure if it is really around.. might be something but I am sure I remember reading that article.. interesting one...

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Given the colors and the precedent, is it safe to assume this team would have become Senators 3.0?

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The story has been documented but I don't think it gets talked about as much as it should. Sports leagues are not to keen with talking about just how easy it is for a city to lose their franchise.

The reason the Padres were going to Washington had nothing to do with a lack of fan support or a bad market. Arnholdt Smith just needed quick cash because he was broke and the IRS was coming after him for tax fraud. He was just going to sell the team to whoever was the highest bidder which just happened to be Ray Kroc. If he didn't go broke Arnholdt Smith would have stayed the owner of the San Diego Padres probably up until his death. He was a PCL owner and a major businessman in San Diego. Just wound up being his era's Bruce McNall instead.

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Knew about this (the baseball cards, in particular) but don't think I've ever seen the uniforms. I like the cap.

Also, that airbrushed "SD" on McCovey's hat looks terrible.

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Knew about this (the baseball cards, in particular) but don't think I've ever seen the uniforms. I like the cap.

Also, that airbrushed "SD" on McCovey's hat looks terrible.

He went to San Diego for the '74 season, so that explains the airbrushing. Still looks lousy, though.

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wasnt there a picture of the home jersey somewhere?

I looked online and couldn't find it.

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I don't think there was, possibly because we don't know if they ever settled on a name for the relocated team.

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The OP is not entirely accurate. Yes Smith tried to move the team. In fact it was leaked in May 1973 that he was selling to Joe Danzansky and as part of the sale the move would happen. This open secret existed through the rest of the 1973 season and as a result SD attendance plummeted down to 1500 fans a game or so. The official announcement was made in December 1973 that the move was on and the Padres were leaving San Diego to become the Washington ??? (Senators was not favored as the name since it had failed twice and they weren't going to be the Washington Padres). Danzansky was given a 3 week window to complete the purchase which was at the time seen as an easy order since Danzansky was the owner of Giant Foods and could easily acquire funding. Hence Topps and the uniform makers were already hard at work on the Washington uniforms and cards (though they hadn't settled on a final nickname which is why you can never find a 1974 Washington home jersey). What changed however was the San Diego City Attorney John Witt got involved.

During the 3 week window the SD city attorney Witt got a court order that stipulated that to move the Padres had to pay off the rest of their ironclad lease at San Diego Stadium (now Qualcomm Stadium). The lease at that time still had 15 years on it which at the time made it prohibitively expensive since the Padres would essentially be paying two leases at RFK and San Diego Stadiums respectively. The banks backing Danzansky's purchase all pulled out leaving the sale and move dead.

Now Smith was still broke and needed to sell to someone. Enter Ray Kroc who, with more money than God in 1974, decided he wanted to own a sports team. As I recall it was his wife that suggested the Padres since they were available. Kroc met with Smith and asked Smith what the price for the club was going to be. Smith suggested $12 million which Kroc supposedly just said, "sold" to. Smith later said he probably could have doubled the price and Kroc still would have just agreed to it. Being a SoCal familiar guy Kroc had no interest in moving the team, but did of course hype up the colors to look more like his beloved McDonald's.

So while Kroc almost always gets all but sole credit for saving the Padres, it was actually John Witt that made it possible for Kroc to do so by derailing Washington 3.0 for 3 decades. It's also why I laugh when people suggest the Jaguars might move. Their lease is not unlike the Padres 40 years ago.

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Different century, different jurisdiction. And the Jags do have a legal opt-out, just one that's hard (but not impossible) to meet on paper.

But your summary of the Padres is much how I remember it.

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Given the colors and the precedent, is it safe to assume this team would have become Senators 3.0?

It's hard to tell from that picture, but the second color might be black, navy or even brown.

Also, that airbrushed "SD" on McCovey's hat looks terrible.

Furthermore, why the hell would they airbrush a Padres' "SD" cap on him if they thought the team was moving to Washington? You'd think they would just put a generic "W".

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I doubt it was brown - although I am loath to trust old pictures it seems a shade of blue in the various pics we see.

dave-freisleben.jpgwaspads.jpg

But I don't know if they would have used the old name. Maybe the fans would have insisted on it, maybe they would have selected it on their own, maybe they would have been hell-bent to go in a different direction.

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