Fans on Hunt for Senators Merchandise; Caps and Pennants All but Forgotten until Last Week

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 4, 2004 | Go to article overview

Fans on Hunt for Senators Merchandise; Caps and Pennants All but Forgotten until Last Week


Byline: William Glanz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Baseball fans in the District got their team, but they may not get Washington Senators gear.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams started a frenzy of interest in Senators apparel when he donned a replica of the team's 1969 cap during a press conference last week to announce Major League Baseball's (MLB) decision to move the Montreal Expos here.

Good luck finding a hat like the one he wore.

Not much Senators gear has been made since the name went into hibernation after the 1971 season, when the club's owner moved the team to Texas and renamed it the Rangers.

"They kind of caught us by surprise. When the mayor put that cap on, it was kind of a sleepy seller," said Peter Capolino, president of Mitchell and Ness Nostalgia Co., a company in Philadelphia that is one of the few licensed by the MLB to make Senators apparel.

New Era also makes Senators caps.

Since the announcement that the Expos will emigrate from Canada, Mr. Capolino has begun production of 9,000 Senators caps. Half of them will be shipped to retail stores in metropolitan Washington when they are ready in about four weeks.

"Now people are asking for [Senators hats]. A lot of people saw the mayor with that hat on," said Antoine Russell, store manager at Total Sport, a retailer on Georgia Avenue in Northwest.

Despite interest in Senators apparel, the Expos haven't been renamed. The club's owner, who hasn't been selected by the league, will pick a team name. The Senators and the Nationals are among the likely names for the transplanted club.

"My guess is they will call them the Senators to create a link to the past," Mr. Capolino said.

The MLB bought all the Senators apparel that Mitchell and Ness had once the decision to move the Expos became official, then sold it on its Web site (www.mlb.com).

"It wasn't a lot," Mr. Capolino said.

Mr. Russell said he has been sold out of Senators hats for months.Jerry Sachs, head of business development and marketing at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where a baseball exhibit ended yesterday, said the museum's retail store sold all its Senators apparel before the news that the Expos were coming.

Because the retail pipeline of Senators apparel was empty, D.C. officials turned to the Web for caps for last week's press conference. The District bought 250 Senators hats from Distant Reply, based in Georgia, said Chris Bender, spokesman for the District's Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

"I think we cleaned them out," he said.

Others are scouring the Web, too. …

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