Thursday, June 2, 2011

The New York Nationals Have Been Around Longer Than You Would Think

Copyright © by The Appalachian.
Used with permission
In an earlier post  about the Washington Generals many aliases, I mentioned the New York Nationals, a name that instantly springs to mind when you talk about the Generals other identities.

In the article I mentioned the controversial decision made in 1995 to "retire" the Washington Generals that lasted until 2007. What I have since found out, is that the New York Nationals have a history in basketball and against the Globetrotters that spans well before those 12 years.

Starting sometime before World War I the original New York Nationals were one of the many barnstorming teams of early basketball. They toured in the 20's mainly around the mid-west. But it was in the 30's that Abe Saperstein brought them back as one of several attempts to start a non-white team. None of these traveling all white teams proved to have anywhere near the success of the Globetrotters however.

Saperstein did briefly revive the squad in the post World War II era occasionally pitting them against the Globetrotters.

The name made a much bigger comback in the late 60's and early 70's when they would play the international Globetrotters squad, while the Generals (then recycling between the Washington Generals, Boston Shamrocks, New Jersey Red's, etc.)  would play the main squad led by Medowlark Lemon and Curly Neal. Much like the Generals many aliases of the time, this was part of the same team as the Washington Generals, just a name change to give the illusion of the Trotters facing off against more teams.

Copyright © by Matthias Kabel.
Used under Creative Commons.
The name retired after 1971 when the Washington Generals began playing full time under just the "Washington General" name that we all know and love.

It is likely due to this history that when the puzzling decision to retire the Washington Generals was made, that the New York Nationals was the "new" name that they settled on. But I think we can all agree the return to the Washington Generals name was inevitable sooner or later.

I personally remember the first time I saw the Globetrotters play the New York Nationals. Even though you knew it was the same team it just never felt the same. The Globetrotters opponents are the Washington Generals. Seeing another name, and another color besides the Green and Gold facing off against them just never felt the same. In the hearts of the fans and players the Globetrotters opponents will always be the Washington Generals. A truth it seems even the Globetrotter organisation eventually realized.

1 comment:

  1. My grandfather was a player and player manager on the new york nationals from 1907 through 1915. They toured the midwest during those years. If they won the game they were paid $5.00 and if they lose $3.00. They won 90% of their games.