Michael Ortman (Meet the D.C.’s Greatest Sports Fan contest finalists)

November 2, 2011

Michael Ortman is one of 10 finalists in The Washington Post’s D.C’s Greatest Sports Fan contest.

About me: First Redskins and Senators games in 1968. Even remember the ABA Caps and hockey Chiefs! Christened the Cap Center, MCI Center and FedEx Field and touched every iteration of soccer. Attended SB7, and the final games at RFK of Senators, 'Skins and Nats. 

Defining moment as a D.C. sports fan: It's actually two moments, connected through time... On September 30, 1971, my dad took his 11-year-old son (me) to the last Senators game at RFK. Near the end, all hell broke loose, and I wanted to run out onto the field and take some turf. “No, no, no,” dad said. “It's too dangerous.” I cried myself to sleep that night. 25 years later, I took my 10-year-old son to the last Redskins game at RFK. After beating the Cowboys, fans poured onto the field. I turned to my son and said, “Let's go tear up some turf!” He looked up at me and said, “No, no, no... it's too dangerous.” I told him, “You stay put. I have some unfinished business to attend to!” Recently, I passed on to him my ticket stubs from '71, and a box of RFK sod from '96. 

Unheralded local athlete: Billy Kilmer. He took over for an injured legend (Sonny Jurgensen), thus sparking Washington's first of many QB controversies. This talentless veteran had battled back from crippling injuries, and led the team and the city to our first title game in more than a generation. 

Why I should win: Many are fans of certain D.C. teams. Few are fanatics of all. This passion has lasted a lifetime. My dad instilled it in me, and I passed it on to his grandchildren. I've found a way to attend so many memorable events — the NFC Championship games at RFK, Pele's first ever appearance there, the Wizards debut at MCI, and more. I celebrated my acceptance into college by attending a Caps game that night. Even got thrown off the Cap Center court by security after the Bullets beat San Antonio in '79. Much to the amazement of my fair-weather friends in Philly, I've stuck with some miserable teams (e.g. Caps in the ‘70s the current Nats), but have cherished the bright light of winning when the sports Gods have allowed it to shine on us! 

What the judges had to say:

Tracee Hamilton: His personal essay contained “a twist on the story that you wouldn’t expect.”

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