The Washington Nationals were the first important baseball club in the nation's capital. They played part of one season or parts of two seasons in the National Association, the first professional league, so they are considered a major league team by those who count the NA as a major league. Several baseball clubs in Washington have used the historic name Nationals.
The team played their home games at the Nationals Grounds and the Olympics Grounds. They joined National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in 1872, playing 11 games, and played 39 games in 1873. According to Baseball-Reference, the franchise was named the Washington Blue Legs for the 1873 season. Following poor on-field results over that period, the team disbanded after the 1873 season. The team was revived for the 1875 season, but failed after one year.
The 1875 NA rendition fared better, as they won 5 games and lost 23. Hollingshead was again their top hitting regular, though with a much lower batting average of .247. He was also one of the club's managers, along with Bill Parks.
The Washingtons went out of business in St. Louis, Missouri, after playing the local Red Stockings on July 3 and July 4. Next day the players announced by telegraph that a club official had absconded with the funds but (Ryczek 1992: 194) concludes that "the tale had been planted by the players in an effort to find enough good samaritans to foot the bill for the trip home". The club probably failed by "unappealing play" and consequent receipts too small to support travel. On the final trip, they lost two in Philadelphia and five of six in St. Louis. The final game was a 12–5 victory but the two local teams outscored Washington 42–5 in the first five games, which must have been repelling.