Thursday, September 27, 2007

They have boxed up the bats, crated up the home uniforms and swept up the peanut shells for a final time, but memories of the last summer of baseball at RFK Stadium will endure for thousands of fans.

Two Moments in Time, Two Goodbyes

In 1996, I was a brand-new father. My son's birth brought me a great deal of joy, but I felt a tinge of sadness that I would never be able to take him to RFK Stadium for a Redskins game.

My father often took me to RFK for Redskins and Senators games, and I grew to love going there and enjoying the atmosphere one of its events could provide. As the final Redskins game approached, I contacted Jim Dalrymple, who oversaw the stadium's operations at the time, and asked whether I would be allowed at some point to get a picture taken of my son and me at RFK. He wrote back an enthusiastic yes! In fact, he not only allowed me to take the picture; he gave me pretty much free rein of the stadium. I was able to get shots of my son sitting everywhere from Jack Kent Cooke's box to the Redskins locker room. As I was leaving that day, I stopped and posed him outside of RFK's main gate for one more shot. As much as I liked all the other pictures, this one turned out to be my favorite.

Now, 11 years later, my son has grown into a fine young man, I have grayed and baseball has returned to its rightful place in the nation's capital. As the season drew to a close, I took my son once again to RFK and posed him in the exact spot in which I had photographed him on that blustery day in December 1996.

I hope the ballpark that opens next season will infuse a blighted part of town with night life, shopping and housing, but all that aside, I'll miss the old place. Some people might call it a dump, but to me it is almost a second home. A home to some extremely fond memories.

-- Jeff Brown, Arlington County

An Awkward but Engaging Courtship

As devoted Redskins fans, our first Nationals season at RFK felt awkward, like dating the kid next door. So familiar, yet so new. The two sports fit very differently and felt very different in the arena.

Still, we marveled at how we knew our way around, even with the football field turned askew to form a diamond. As the season progressed, we were in love all over again with the scruffy, beaten-up building. We came to know every way in and out of the parking lots. We carried in our food. We could yell and hear the echo of our own encouragement. Sadly, we couldn't marry the kid next door, but the dating went well.

-- David and Chrissie Crosby, Alexandria

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