In 1958, Roy Sievers of the Washington Nationals (i.e., Washington Senators) was one of the best sluggers in the game. The previous year, he knocked out a league-leading 42 dingers and he would follow it up in ’58 with another 38 homers.
Just before opening day in 1958, Mr. Sievers graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, the first Washington baseball player to do so (according to our research).
Washington has not had an abundance of baseball stars at a level high enough to warrant the cover spot – okay, unfair because we were without a team for 34 years. The next Washington Senator to appear on the cover was not a player, but their manager Ted Williams in March 1969.
D.C. went without a cover star or a team until our rocket-armed superstar, Stephen Strasburg, came to town for his debut in June 2010, blowing away the Pittsburgh Pirates, landing on the cover of the magazine a couple of days later.
Bryce Harper is an interesting case, because he landed on the cover before he was even drafted. The guy was a teenage superstar when he was the cover superstar for the June 2009 issue, a full year before his eventual teammate, Strasburg.
As a side note, June 7th and 8th, 2010 were two of the greatest days in recent Washington baseball memory, with Harper being drafted and Strasburg making his major league debut. Those dates have permanently been etched as the beginning of a new, dominant baseball force in our nation’s capital.
That new baseball force is summed up perfectly with today’s Sports Illustrated cover, featuring Bryce Harper.