Situational Essay: The Last Harrah: The Last Senator, The First Ranger, The Eternal Man

Toby Harrah of the Washington Senators and Texas Rangers

Ben Lyon is a lawyer living in Chicago. He alone knows what it must be like to occupy his own impressive mindspace, which I liken to a shoebox full of baseball cards, each of which can speak.

It’s only appropriate that in the solemn hours following the end of the Texas Rangers’ run at victory, he takes a look at another who was the last of his kind: the Last Senator, Toby Harrah.

In his 1971 rumination on the failed presidential candidacy of Edmund Muskie, Hunter S. Thompson wrote that living in Washington D.C. “tends to provoke a powerful understanding of the ‘Westward Movement’ in U.S. History.” It remains unknown whether Thompson was referring to the Washington Senators II (1961 1971), but they lived his advice, fleeing D.C. in order to fulfill their destiny of becoming the most Republican professional sports team (see: Texas location, 10th-amendment-invoking flag on uniform, horrid specter of W. looming over everything, and Nolan Ryan’s history of beating on youths).

Shockingly, this move to the Southwest occurred just 2 years after the pinnacle of achievement in Senators II history: a stellar 86-76 record so inspiring that two of the Senators II faithful (aka, my father and uncle), met the team at the airport upon their return from a slightly-above mediocre road trip. (Welcoming tepid baseball teams home is actually what late 1960’s boomers were doing at airports then—not spitting on returning Vietnam vets, contrary to ongoing conservative mythology of the last 40 years).

In contrast to the recent glory of ’69, the 1971 Senators went out meekly, with two notable exceptions:

1. the final game of the season/ever vs. the Yankees that was forfeited due to “ruffians” (my father’s quote) running onto the field; at the time my father was either (a) one of these ruffians (b) in Vietnam (c) playing tennis.

2. a mid-season game at which my father’s friend stated he had seen “minor-league” teams better than the Senators, thereby causing my uncle to start launching canisters of tear gas into the stands.

The one man who bore this escape from D.C. longer than all others was former Senator/Ranger Toby Harrah, the last ever “Senator” to play in the majors. According to his Wikipedia entry (obviously written by one of the many current employees in the PR department of Toby Harrah, LLC), he was involved in “three of the most unusual feats in Major League baseball history.” One of these “feats” also involved Larry Sheets, who, as a Baltimore Oriole in 1987 (the last year of the Harrah Era), had his greatest season—and it was Larry Sheets who the children of suburban Washington D.C. had to turn to for mustachioed heroics, because the Senators had long ago left us to fulfill a manifest destiny of lower taxes, plentiful stadium parking, August games in 150- degree heat and Steve Buchele’s perm.

All of which is to say that if the Rangers win the World Series [editor’s note, being the obvious] and the Republicans re-take the House of Representatives, I will attempt to kick every Republican/Ranger in the shin with the LONE exception of Toby Harrah—for to look at a 1987 Toby Harrah Topps card and see (in small type—smaller even than the Jerry Koosman card in the same set) was to see statistics earned as a Washington Senator!

How to mend a broken heart indeed.

3 Responses to “Situational Essay: The Last Harrah: The Last Senator, The First Ranger, The Eternal Man”


  • They were ruffians. And I was in Vietnam with Richard Blumenthal. I think. And you forgot to mention all this happened when Richard Nixon was president. Which pretty much has explained everything for the last 40 years.

  • I came for baseball nostalgia and I leave having lost three minutes of my life wasted reading this. Let’s see…lawyer from Chicago? And he’s lecturing me on politics? Please. Come and get me! My shins await your feeble, obviously Democrat-esque, attempt to have a conversation while wielding a pointed stick.

  • Right because nothing delights us more than conversations with the bitter (why so bitter on Nov. 3?) and sarcastic.

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