October 3, 2004

OCTOBER 3, 2004

At his news conference Wednesday (Sept 29), Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams said he preferred the name Grays in homage to the Negro League franchise. A team embracing Negro League history at its best might not work everywhere, but one would think it could work here.

Before the modern era, there were other "major league" teams in Washington: the Olympics, the Nationals and the Statesmen played in various leagues in the late 1800s.

But the best team ever to call Washington home didn't really belong to the city. The Homestead Grays might have been the greatest Negro League team, winning nine consecutive Negro National League championships from 1937 to 1945.

The Grays' lineup was filled with Hall of Famers, including Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell and Buck Leonard. The team's real "home" was Pittsburgh, but the Grays split their schedule and played many games before large crowds at Washington's Griffith Stadium in the 1930s and 1940s.

That's why Mayor Anthony Williams is pushing for Washington's new team to be named the Grays. As for "Senators" - Williams isn't a fan of that name because the District of Columbia doesn't have seats in the U.S. Senate.

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