Washington, D.C. went 34 years without a baseball team following the expansion Senators leaving to Arlington, Texas to become the Rangers in 1971.
It wasn't until 2005 that baseball returned to the nation's capital, with the Montreal Expos relocating and becoming the Nationals.
But the city almost got a team back well before 2005. According to the Washington Post, the San Diego Padres nearly relocated in 1973.
Uniforms were even designed and potential nicknames were discussed.
The Padres were so close to moving to D.C. that one of their pitchers modeled a "Washington" prototype uniform. https://t.co/ajucAycqKc— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) June 16, 2016
The Padres were so close to becoming Washington’s baseball club that Topps produced a 1974 set of baseball cards of San Diego players with “Washington Nat’l Lea.”printed on them. Minor league pitcher Dave Freisleben even modeled prototype road uniforms with “Washington” emblazoned in red lettering across the front. The jersey and pants were light blue with collars, sleeves and a waistband adorned in red, white and blue. The hat featured a blue back and white front with a thin red block “W” with a star on the top right.
If the Padres had relocated, "Nationals" was a primary nickname candidate.
But there was another name that was discussed — albeit briefly — and it was great.
“I do recall that in private chats ‘Nationals’ was the front-running name,” said Bavasi, who worked as a consultant with the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission in the early 2000s to help bring a major league team to Washington. “ ‘Pandas’ was discussed, but just as a brief passing thought because a pair of the animals were housed at the National Zoo, a gift at the time from China to President Nixon.”
The Washington Pandas.
While Nationals is a very good and adequate name, pro and college teams are rather bland when it comes to choosing nicknames.
There are too many Bears, Tigers, Lions, Cardinals and Bulldogs.
Pandas are cute yet also ferocious, and are held in high regard in Washington, D.C.
But Nationals works too, and the team has done quite well for itselfs since taking home in D.C.