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George Solomon


Sunday, March 13, 2005; Page E02

Three weeks until the first Opening Day in Washington in 34 years and the Talkbackers are going nostalgic.

One Friday when I was about 8 years old living in Oakland, Md., my dad and I took the train to Washington to see the Senators play. At Union Station, my dad's brother, Buddy, picked us up, and we stayed with his family until the next day when we would see the Senators against what I remember to be the hated Yankees. Saturday dawned bright and clear and after entering Griffith Stadium there was a relatively small area just outside the stands where fans stood around and talked baseball.

My dad pointed out an older, stately gentleman in the corner wearing a suit and tie, and told me to go over and politely ask for his autograph. I approached the man, asking for his signature, and he graciously gave it to me. Not knowing who the celebrity was, I looked at the name and incredulously returned to my dad. "This guy doesn't even know how to spell his own name," I said. "He put an 's' on Roger." My dad looked at me knowingly and said, "Just hold on to that one, son." Only later did I learn that I just met the immortal Rogers Hornsby -- The Rajah!

Looking back now, I don't suppose a kid ever enjoyed a baseball outing more than I did that weekend in Washington. My now-departed dad showed the whole world of sports to me, and we shared it and lived it together.

Tom Ryan, Annandale

The idea of building a replica of Griffith Stadium at the new stadium site is great. The only thing that could make it better would be to build a Wonder Bread bakery across the street.

My trip as a teenager from southern Fairfax County to the stadium included a B&W bus ride down U.S. 1 into Alexandria, a change to another bus to 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, a walk down Pennsylvania to 7th Street and a ride on the street car to Florida Avenue and into the stadium.

There were many heroes for me including the knuckleballers; the Cuban pitching connection; the '45 Senators that came so close to winning the pennant until an outfielder (I think it was Bingo Banks) forgot to take his sunglasses to the outfield and lost a ball in the sun in the next to last game of the season.

Bob Hardage, Fairfax

You're both invited to join the Baseball Gang, April 3, Mets-Nats exhibition game, noon at RFK Stadium. On me.

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