WASHINGTON — Fred Valentine was traded to the Washington Senators in 1963. Now, he's 84 and still remembers the day he was traded to the Senators from Baltimore.
"They were bad," Valentine laughed. "That's putting it mildly."
Valentine played center for the hapless Senators from 1964 through the 1968 season.
"They didn't want to spend any money on the club," Valentine said. "It was a cheap club."
Before joining the Senators, he played for years in the minor leagues after college. Jackie Robinson had paved the way for more black players in the MLB, but the abuse and racism from fans was still there in the late 1950s and '60s.
He said they knew that white communities would rehearse the things they planned to say the next day at the game. They would sit on the first and third base sides yelling at the black players.
"When I found out what was happening, I said to myself, 'Get on first base, I'm gonna steal second base,'" Valentine said, adding he'd do anything to get out of their presence. "Sometimes I stole home plate just to get off the field, just to get in the dugout."
Valentine stayed in D.C. after he retired, while the Senators left for Texas. Even though he hasn't been invited back to the field, he's still rooting for the home team to win the world series.
"I'm really pulling for them, even though I gave up my season tickets."