It's going to happen...some day. I don't know when, but it will happen.
What is "it", you ask??
Well, now that the Nationals are moving into a brand new ballpark in less than 5 weeks, it means the clock starts on the (eventual) impending demolition of RFK Stadium. It's a day I've known was coming for quite some time, but nevertheless I still am not ready for.
So, here's a good place as any to talk about losing a treasured, somewhat iconic member of the family. In a way, that hulking structure at the end of East Capitol Street felt like home to me...more than anyone can imagine. Let me explain:
Until I was a year old, we--meaning my folks, my 2 older brothers and ME (the baby of the family, till my 2 younger sisters came along)--lived in Anacostia, just off Pennsylvania Avenue. Dad used to work at the Navy Yard in Washington (ironically, near where the Nats' new park sits), my aunt Julia lived not far from us, and my maternal grandmother lived near Bolling AFB. All this, before and during the time the Senators...the original AND expansion ones...played.
So, come 1961, a (then) brand-spanking-new stadium went up on East Capitol Street. District of Columbia Stadium, it was called. The plaque says so. Home of the expansion Senators, and later the Redskins, it would see its share of history (good and bad) for the city, the region...and me.
My first baseball game I went to was there. I even know the date: 7/31/1964, my older brother's 8th birthday. The old man took us 3 boys to see the Senators play the Red Sox...I think it was the Red Sox; I'm not sure...and I actually remember sitting along the first-base line to watch. (Hey, tickets were cheaper back then. Those same seats went for $45 last year. I looked it up.) Anyway, Dad bought us each a pennant; I still have mine. If I ever find a way to post a picture of it, I'll show you.
I saw my share of Redskins games there, too. By that time (around '69) the place got a new name. That's what happens when Sirhan Sirhan decides to make himself famous; you change the name. Now, it was Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium...or simply RFK. But, on with our story...
As I was saying, we got the chance to go every year to see the Skins play the mo'-fo'ing Dallas Cowturds. The annual father-son deal at Dad's place of work. The one year we didn't go, I still saw history. (Someday I'll share that story, but not now.)
Sadly, I never got to see Frank Howard play in person @ RFK. God knows I pleaded with the old man to take me to a game; no dice. So, there was always television...ah, I remember it now as if it were yesterday. The snowy picture from Channel 9 in Washington, showing us a road game. (HOME games were blacked out. That's how it was back then.) Anyway, where was I?? Oh, okay...
(Listen, I'm sorry for the history lesson here. Trust me, you'll want to stay with me on this. I'm leading up to something.)
September 30, 1971 was a Monday night. The Senators were playing the Yankees, in what became the last major league baseball game in Washington...as it turned out, for 34 years, until the Expos came to D.C. and became the Nationals. The game itself?? The Senators were winning, 5-3, and needed just one out to close out the game. I listened to this on radio, when all hell broke loose. The record books list it as a 9-0 forfeit win for the Yanks, but yet the Senators weren't the losers in all this. No, it was 2 generations of baseball fans in the region who got the shaft. I think I wrote about that once on here.
My point is, RFK has seen its share of history. Hell, even the Beatles played there (August of '64, in fact). And now, in a few years...it comes down. And, on the day that happens, EVERY one of my blogs will have a black backdrop--in mourning the passing of this cathedral of sport and pop culture.
I have to admit, I did have a twinge of sadness when the Vet in Philly went ba-BOOM. I just wished they would've held a contest in the papers...you know, like "in 50 words or less, tell us why you want to blow up th Vet??" I would've won it hands down, cause I only needed 3 words:
"Body Bag Game"
Yeah. THAT black-eye in Redskins history. There's my goddamned motivation for pushing the button to blow it up. Shame they didn't have a contest, though. The entries would've been a BLAST (no pun intended)!!!
(Now I'm afraid I might've given somebody an idea for setting up a contest saying "50 words or less; tell us why you want to blow up RFK". Maybe they'll leave comments on here about their motivation. LOL)
At any rate, I got to thinking about how RFK won't be here any more, and figured I might as well put down my memories of the joint.