From the time the major leagues integrated in 1947, through the 1953 season, not a single black player appeared in a Washington uniform. They Senators employed lots of Cuban players, but not one who could be considered black.
That would all change during spring training 1954. The Nationals were very high on an outfielder named Angel Scull. Scull was a speedy outfielder who batted and threw right. A bit on the small side - just 5-foor-8 and 160 lbs.- the Cuban flychaser had batted .286 with 29 steals for the Charleston Senators of the American Association in 1953. He'd been the star of the 1951 Pan-American games for Cuba with 14 RBIs and four steals. At 25, he was deemed ready for the big time.
Scull's ascension to the big league club was considered such a sure thing that Topps included him in their 1954 set of baseball cards. He was also included in the 1954 Briggs Hot Dog card set, issued in the Washington area.
Alas, a leg injury sustained during spring training put Scull on the sidelines, and in the end, he never played a single game in the big leagues. Scull had an annoying habit in the field of yelling "I got it - you take it," on every fly ball, but I can't say for sure that led to his injury. He returned to the minors where he played through 1969, when he was 40. He was later inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame.
Oh, and the club's first black player? That distinction went to another Cuban, outfielder Carlos Paula, who debuted Sept. 6, 1954, Paula played parts of three seasons for Washington, batting .271 in 157 games The first true African-American player for Washington was pitcher Joe Black, who appeared in seven games for the 1957 Nats.
Despite the city's post-war demographics, its baseball team was a little slow on the uptake in regards equal opportunity. Given their access to the great players who toiled for the Homestead Grays, one has to wonder how different local sporting history might be had more progressive minds prevailed.