'I Helped Build the Stadium'
Friday, March 28, 2008
Soon it will be the workplace for Ryan Zimmerman, Dmitri Young and other members of the Washington Nationals. But for nearly two years, the sprawling site off South Capitol Street SE was the domain of men and women who wore hard hats instead of baseball helmets, leather boots instead of spikes.
People such as Theodore Richmond, who helped pour the concrete for Nationals Park. And Christopher Shrewsberry, who helped put in thousands of seats. And Veronica Salas, who made sure the workers were lined up and ready for their latest assignments.
More than 2,700 people helped build the ballpark -- immigrants, war veterans, people on their first jobs, longtime D.C. residents, tradesmen and women who traveled hundreds of miles for a chance to work on the project. Electricians, ironworkers, carpenters, plumbers, laborers, you name it, tended to the details. They celebrated last summer when the last beam was put in place by construction workers. History was being made, an electrician said at the time. Then everyone went back to work on the plumbing, wiring and other tasks that were yet to be done.
Many will be in the stands this weekend, watching the game unfold under the lights they installed not so long ago. Others will watch from home. Now, their work nearly complete, they looked back on their part in creating baseball's newest showplace.
"During the first phase, I helped pour the concrete. In the second phase, I did the insulation. In the third phase, I am installing TVs, desks, anything to do with the offices. . . . There aren't a lot of things that you can be proud of in your life. I think that this will be one of the things. It will be something that I can show my kids years down the road. I helped build the stadium. . . . This will be one of my war stories. I've never been to war, but this will be one of the stories that I will be telling."
Theodore Richmond, 33
Southeast Washington, Laborer
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"We did the scoreboard. It is a beautiful thing to look at that big screen."
Herbert Brown, 57