1971 Washington Senators season

1971 Washington Senators season

The 1971 Washington Senators season involved the Senators finishing fifth in the American League East with a record of 63 wins and 96 losses. This was the Senators' 11th and last season in Washington, D.C., as they moved to Arlington, Texas the following season, becoming the Texas Rangers. The move would leave Washington without a Major League Baseball team until the Montreal Expos of the National League relocated there in 2005, becoming the current Washington Nationals.


Regular season

The acquisition of former Cy Young Award winner Denny McLain would not pay dividends for the franchise. Amid constant run-ins with no-nonsense Washington manager Ted Williams, Denny McLain lost 22 games in 1971.[5]

Relocation to Texas

By the end of the 1970 season, Senators owner Bob Short had issued an ultimatum: unless someone was willing to buy the Senators for $12 million, he would not renew his lease at RFK Stadium and move elsewhere. Several parties offered to buy the team, but all fell short of Short's asking price.

Short was especially receptive to an offer from Arlington mayor Tom Vandergriff, who had been trying to get a major league team to play in the Metroplex for over a decade. Years earlier, Charlie Finley, the owner of the Kansas City Athletics, sought to move his team to Dallas, but the idea was rebuffed by the other AL team owners.

Arlington's hole card was Turnpike Stadium, a 10,000-seat park which had been built in 1965 to house the AA Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs of the Texas League. However, it had been built to major league specifications. It was also located in a natural bowl; only minor excavations would be necessary to expand the park to major-league size.

After Vandergriff offered a multi-million dollar up-front payment, Short finally decided to pull up stakes and move. On September 20, 1971, he got his wish, receiving approval from AL owners to move the franchise to Arlington for the 1972 season.

Washington fans were outraged, leaving public relations director Ted Rodgers with the unenviable task of putting a positive spin on such events as fans unfurling a giant banner that contained Short's name, preceded by a popular four-letter invective. A photo of the banner appeared on the front page of a DC newspaper the following day.

Fan enmity came to a head in the team's last game in Washington, on September 30. Thousands of fans simply walked in without paying because the security guards left early in the game, swelling the paid attendance of 14,460 to around 25,000. The Senators led 7-5 with two outs in the top of the ninth. Just then, fans poured onto the field. A teenager scooped up first base and ran away. With no security guards in sight, the game was forfeited to the Yankees, 9-0.

Opening Day starters

Season standings

AL East W L GB Pct.
Baltimore Orioles 101 57 0 .639
Detroit Tigers 91 71 12 .562
Boston Red Sox 85 77 18 .525
New York Yankees 82 80 21 .506
Washington Senators 63 96 38.5 .396
Cleveland Indians 60 102 43 .370

Notable transactions


1971 Washington Senators
Pitchers Catchers


Outfielders Manager


Player stats


Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
3B Nelson, DaveDave Nelson 85 329 92 .280 5 33
RF Biittner, LarryLarry Biittner 66 171 44 .257 0 16

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Maddox, ElliottElliott Maddox 128 258 56 .217 1 18
McCraw, TommyTommy McCraw 122 207 44 .213 7 25
Wert, DonDon Wert 20 40 2 .050 0 2
Flood, CurtCurt Flood 13 35 7 .200 0 2
Mason, JimJim Mason 3 9 3 .333 0 0


Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Bosman, DickDick Bosman 35 236.2 12 16 3.73 113
McLain, DennyDenny McLain 33 216.2 10 22 4.28 103
Broberg, PetePete Broberg 18 124.2 5 9 3.47 89

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Cox, CaseyCasey Cox 54 124.1 5 7 3.98 43
Gogolewski, BillBill Gogolewski 27 124.1 6 5 2.75 70
Janeski, GerryGerry Janeski 23 61.2 1 5 4.96 19
Brown, JackieJackie Brown 14 47 3 4 5.94 21

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV ERA SO
Piña, HoracioHoracio Piña 56 1 1 2 3.59 38
Grzenda, JoeJoe Grzenda 46 5 2 5 1.92 56
Knowles, DaroldDarold Knowles 12 2 2 2 3.52 16

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Denver Bears American Association Del Wilber
AA Pittsfield Senators Eastern League Joe Klein
A Burlington Senators Carolina League Whitey Kurowski
A Anderson Senators Western Carolinas League Frank Gable and Bill Haywood
Short-Season A Geneva Senators New York-Penn League Frank Gable



  • 1971 Washington Senators team page at Baseball Reference
  • 1971 Washington Senators team page at www.baseball-almanac.com