Goodbye RFK

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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!

RW

Vaya Con Dios Mo, CT, And Zim

Greetings from The Booth!

With Shenandoah University men’s basketball coming to an end this week in the ODAC Tournament, the book closes on a great broadcasting era at SU. Men’s basketball play-by-play voice Mike O’Dell has decided to hang up the headphones after a run that goes all the way back to the late 80’s. In that period of time Mike has taken us through the ups and downs of Hornet Hoop, from the NCAA years of Dave Dutton to the present, where times have been a bit tough. In every instance, Mike has been a professional (even with an occasional jab at an official) and has made even the losses seem exciting. Anyone who has ever done play-by-play knows how tough that can be. I had the pleasure of working with Mike through the early Dutton years, and several seasons in the 2000’s when I came to the River 95-3/WZRV, “The Flagship For SU Athletics,” and the thing I remember most are the many stories from the road we accumulated. Maybe we’ll write a book one day. Mike, I hope you enjoy your post-broadcast years, but as we both know, play-by-play gets in your blood and never leaves. Hornet fans will certainly miss your passion for SU and your golden tones…

Another goodbye, this one permanently, as we lost Washington receiver Charley Taylor this past weekend. Taylor, a Pro Football Hall Of Famer, retired as the leading NFL receiver of all time  (he has since fallen to 67th all-time), but you can look up the stats for yourself. Charley came to the ‘Skins in the mid-60’s as a running back and could have excelled at that position, if it weren’t for the fumbles. After 2 seasons at running back he was converted to a wide-receiver and the rest is history. Taylor, along with Bobby Mitchell and Jerry Smith, became part of one of the most prolific receiving corps in the NFL, hauling in the passes of Sonny Jurgensen. Those were mainly losing years for Washington, until the arrival of Vince Lombardi and George Allen, when Charley saved his best for the big games. In the 1972 NFC Championship, Taylor hauled in 2 Billy Kilmer TD passes, as Washington mauled the hated Cowboys at RFK Stadium 26-3. And, there was the familiar Charley Taylor “touchdown” pose after every score. Thanks for the memories, number 42…

Finally, a goodbye to Ryan Zimmerman, who last week retired after spending his entire career as a Washington National. Zim was drafted by the Nats out of UVA and almost immediately gave baseball-starved fans in DC a glimpse of how bright the future could be, even in those early losing years. When the Montreal Expos franchise came to Washington as the fledgling Nationals, my long-dormant passion for baseball was reignited, and Zimmerman was a big reason. On a roster full of names like Lastings Milledge, Zim was a homegrown talent, and even as the losses piled up, one could see that he was a core player that you could build  team around. Zim was “the king of the walkoff,” with 11 career game-ending home runs. I was fortunate enough to see one of those at RFK while hosting a Nationals baseball trip for several of our listeners. And it’s only fitting that after toiling through the lean years, that he finally got his ring several years ago. When all is said and done, Zim may not get to Cooperstown, but he is certainly a Hall-Of-Famer in the hearts of DC baseball fans.

Until the next visit, thank you Mo, Charley, and Zim…and GO HORNETS!

RW

Sports: Monday, August 9, 2021

Nats’ Slide Continues, Olympic Games Come To A Close, Manning Headlines HOF Class

Despite out-hitting the Braves 12-6, the Washington Nationals lost to Atlanta yesterday 5-4. The Nats, who dropped 2 of 3 to the Braves, were led by Ryan Zimmerman’s 3-for-5 afternoon, but saw pitcher Patrick Corbin struggle once again, giving up 5 earned runs in his 6 innings of work. The Nationals are off today before starting a series against the New York Mets tomorrow night on Sports Radio 1450.

Tampa Bay out-slugged the Baltimore Orioles 9-6 yesterday to sweep the 3-game weekend series. The O’s start a midweek set against the Detroit Tigers tomorrow at Camden Yards.

The Summer Olympic games ended yesterday with a closing ceremony that included Zoom-like videos, a presentation from Paris, who will host the 2024 Games, and the dousing of the Olympic flame. The US led the overall medal count with 113.

Peyton Manning headlined the 2021 Pro Football Hall Of Fame class that was inducted yesterday in Canton, Ohio. This year’s class also included receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive standouts Charles Woodson and John Lynch.

And, on the PGA Tour, Abraham Ancer won the WGC Fed-Ex St. Jude Invitational. Ancer beat Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns in a playoff to take home the $1.8 million first prize.

Sports: Thursday, April 15, 2021

SU Scoreboard, Ross Shines In Nats Win, Caps-Sabres Tonight

On the Hornet scoreboard, SU Women’s Lacrosse held off Randolph-Macon 15-14, Number-15 Baseball split a twinbill with Penn State-Harrisburg, dropping the opener 7-3, and taking the nightcap 7-1. Mary Washington rallied to beat Men’s Lacrosse 14-11. Today, Volleyball travels to Eastern Mennonite.

Joe Ross pitched 6 innings of shutout baseball, giving up only 4 hits, as the Washington Nationals blanked the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 yesterday in the getaway game of the 3-game series. Ryan Zimmerman smacked a 2-run homer for the Nats, who took 2-of-3 against the Cards. The 3-6 Nationals now head to Arizona for a 7:05 first-pitch against the D-Backs. Air time is 6:35 on Sports Radio 1450.

And, the Capitals are back on the ice tonight when they host the Buffalo Sabres. The Caps, who are alone at the top of the NHL’s Eastern Division, have scored 14 goals in their last 2 games. Air time is 6:45 on the River 95-3.