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Greetings From The Booth!
Well, the NFL Super Wild Card Weekend is history, and now we move to the Divisional Round, with 4 games this weekend. Believe it or not, kids, the Washington football franchise used to be a big part of things this time of year. Under the legendary Joe Gibbs, the playoffs for the then-‘Skins was an annual expectation, not a “hope and a prayer.”
This week, demolition began on RFK Stadium in DC, the former home of the Redskins, who were 5-0 in NFC Championship games that were played there. It was an intimidating place for opponents to play, especially in big regular season games and in the playoffs. Unlike Fed-Ex Field, the stands at RFK were filled with raucous home fans who gave the ‘Skins a decided home field advantage. In fact, the stands actually moved as the fans stomped and yelled for the Burgundy and Gold.
I have some personal memories of RFK Stadium, mostly fond ones. My first memory of RFK is my dad taking me to my first major league game to see my beloved Senators. I still remember the feeling of climbing that ramp in the upper deck and thinking I was going to tumble onto the green outfield grass below. And what a thrill it was to see my favorite player, Frank Howard, one-hand a home run off the Longines sign in left field.
When the Senators left, and the Nationals later came to town, I hosted a listener trip to RFK on July 4, 2006, and saw a young Ryan Zimmerman (who would become the face of the franchise) hit a game winning homer, one of many game winning blasts he would hit in his career. We went home happy that day!
My favorite football memory of RFK is the famous “seat cushion” playoff game against Atlanta in the 1991 Super Bowl season. The upstart falcons, led by Deion Sanders, strutted into RFK with MC Hammer and Evander Holyfield in tow, only to see the ‘Skins slop their way to victory. When a late, deciding TD was scored by Washington, fans en masse threw their souvenir seat cushions on the field. I was there that day, but for some reason, I held on to my seat cushion, but have no idea where it is today.
Being a fan of pro wrestling, I also had a chance to see an NWA “Great American Bash” card at RFK back in the day. Not the greatest view, but it was very cool seeing the likes of Dusty Rhodes and The Road Warriors in person.
And, of course, there were the many other concerts and events that were held at RFK over the years, but for me it will always be the home of the Senators and ‘Skins. And if you go down to the demolition site along the Anacostia River and listen closely, you may still hear the faint sounds of “WE WANT DALLAS…WE WANT DALLAS!”
Until next time from The Booth…RIP RFK!
Greetings From The Booth!
Summer is officially here, and we’re getting into the meat of the MLB season. The Washington Nationals, who looked like they were going nowhere fast just a little over a week ago at 26-35, have gone on a 7-1 run to climb back into the conversation in the NL East. Sound familiar? In 2019 the Nats at 19-31 started their amazing run to a World Series title.
To hedge their bets a bit, this week the Nationals brought back aging outfielder Gerardo Parra, who was a big part of the 2019 Championship with some timely hits, and of course “Baby Shark.” I’m not sure the Nats can “fin”ish the job this year (see what I did there?), but it makes for a fun ballpark.
Last week was also a great week for Kyle Schwarber, who was named NL Player Of The Week. Schwarber hit 6 homers, including 5 in a 2-game span, which tied an MLB record. He also hit .385 for the week, as the Nats won 7 of 8 games.
Schwarber’s week of power made me think back to another amazing week in 1968, as the Washington Senators’ Frank Howard hit an incredible 10 homers in a 7-game stretch from May 12-18. That feat still stands as the most home runs hit in a week. Just as amazing was that he he hit those 10 homers in 20 at-bats!
Howard, who stood 6-7 and weighed 255 pounds, was my hero back in the day. The Senators were lousy, but Hondo (one of several nicknames, including “The Washington Monument”) made you forget about that with his one-handed home runs off the Longines sign at RFK Stadium. I remember having a mini Senators bat from a Bat Day promotion, pretending I was Frank Howard in my backyard, imitating his trademark swing. Even today, in my office is a Frank Howard-signed 1960 Rookie Of the Year baseball, which sits in the middle of my Nats bobbleheads.
As a footnote, 5 of Howard’s 10 home runs in that special week came at the expense of the Detroit Tigers, who would go on to win the World Series that year. The Senators, meanwhile, would finish at 65-96. In a year dominated by pitching, Big Frank would lead the Majors in homers with 44, while driving in 106.
Next time you go to a Nationals game, be sure to look at the right field facade, where you’ll see Frank Howard’s name in the team’s Ring Of Honor, next to a couple of Robinsons, Jackie and Frank. And when you see today’s players like Kyle Schwarber go on home run binges, think of that special week in 1968, when Hondo was the best in the game.
Until the next visit from The Booth…GO SENATORS!