The picture to the left is how RFK Stadium looked when I was a kid in the late 1960's. A good crowd was 14,000 or so, an average one about half that. Back then, D.C. was a smaller town, with team ownership too poor to market the team playing in a stadium in a poor location for night games.
Today, Washington and it's expanding suburbs is now a demographically high-end baseball town. The thirty-four year wait allowed the city to grow and coalesce. The time was right last year, and even with the M-I-A owner and an on again, off again stadium, more than 34,000 per night filled the paint-over-paint seats at RFK.
19,264. That was the lead in most all of the wire service stories that blanketed America last night. "Playing before the smallest crowd since baseball returned to D.C. last year....." and "Only 19,264 fans filled the 46,000 seat stadium as the Nationals....." That is so wrong. It's like the sports writers are trying to blame the fans. Personally, I'm proud as heck of those 19,000 souls, who, inspite of a city council who doesn't care about them, inspite of a baseball commissioner who cares only of his empire, they keep coming to RFK, day after day, supporting a team that no one else will.
I am proud of the way that Washington is supporting it's baseball team. Why isn't the other 25,000 filled every night? Because we remember how much it hurt the last two times that greed broke our hearts. "Show me that there will really be an owner .... let me see a hole in the ground where that beautiful new stadium will be, and I'll come" they will say. And that's fine. Some of us believe in what we cannot see while others believe in only that which is firm and has foundation. The Nationals need both kinds of fans. That owner will be named soon, and that hole in the ground will soon fill with girders and pre-cast concrete. Then all of this seat-counting will go away.
Be proud of yourselves, Nats fans; you amaze me.
Oh, Livan stunk in the first inning and the Nats lost in a rather dull game, 4-2. Luckily, there was only 19,264 there to see it.
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