Actually, and ironically this is not Baseball Bill's time of year.
Oh, sure, he'll tune in the World Series. And unless his checking account is unusually barren, he'll have a little something riding on somebody.
But it won't be a local somebody. For the sixth fall in a row, baseball's time to preen will be Bill's time to brood. He is Baseball Bill in a town without baseball-and for mn who lived and dieed over the Washington Senatora, no prodigious number of beers will wash away the pain.
Not thatBill Holdforth won't try.
An immense man, built a bit like second base,Baseball Bill is so involved with beer that he sometimes uses it totot measure time (as in: "It took us three beers to get to Baltimore"). And in a celebrated 1973 contest, he won the beer-chugging championship of Capitol Hill, emptying 34 steins in less than four hours.
Baseball Bill also has a sense of history. He stayed up all one night this summer with two buddies so they could be on the first Blue Line subway train. Was it his fault that two cases of beer were there to help them pass the night? The threesome thus became not only the first to enter the Capitol South station; they were the first to do so while feeling no pain.
So it is surely no accident that Baseball Bill Holdforth was born on April 1.
But it is also no accident that he was the only Washington Senators' fan to take out his frustrations directly on Robert Short, the man who moved the Senators to Texas.
It was not just the objects of Bill's fantasy fandom who left in 1971; it was also his source of income.
An usher for the Senators' last three seasons, Baseball Bill was a fixture in Section 116 of RFK Stadium, behind home plate. He and his "regulars" would swap fried chicken, emdlessly debate pitching changes, hoot, holler and harass. "The only bad thing about it," says Bill, "was I couldn't drink any beer while I was working."
But things soures as the Senators played out their last month.
First, Short took away the two "freebies" that each usher was given for each game. That act of generosity prompted Baseball Bill to report for work one night carrying an effigy of Short. The dummy was stuffed with copies of The Sporting News.
After BIll paraded it around the lower stands between innings. Short passed the word that Bill's services were no longer required.
The next spring, Baseball Bill proved he was not to be trifled with.
There were the Texas Rangers, nee Senators, in Baltimore to play the Orioles. There was Short, sitting in a box beside the Texas dugout. And there, after the second inning, was Baseball Bill, effigy in hand.
Bill had fortified himself for the task. "We brought a cooler of beer. Lasted till the Harbor Tunnel." He was dressed in his best sloppy jeans, and a red plastic Senators' batting helmet. And he was righteously convinced that the mission was proper. "I didn't like the man. What can I say?"
Holdforth arranged with the Oriole ushers, many of whom he knew, to let him alone for half an inning. That was how much time they gave him.
With a leer on his face, and to the cheers of the hundreds of Washington fans who had driven up for the occasion. Baseball Bill and a crony just stood behind Short with the effigy and silently got vengeance.
"I just knew i I'd get his goat," recalled Bill one recent afternoon. "He kept asking us why we didn't get the hell out of there. I said, 'Because you got the hell out of here . It was just a supreme satisfaction to get him to react that way."
But Bill would like history to record it was not he who dumped a beer over Short's head during the next inning. It was a woman he didn't know, some Washingtonian Bill had evidently inspired with his passive vigil.
"Would I," asked Baseball Bill, "waste a beer on a guy like that?"
Still, Basebll Bill's revenge was empty. The Senators have not returned, and no team has yet taken their place. Baseball Bill said he does not even bother to read about teams that may move here."I'll be there when they're there," is how he puts it.
For now, Baseball Bill tends bar at the Hawk and Dove, a Capitol Hill saloon. Some days, He plays softball, but at 26, and an unimaginable number of pounds (It's been years since I weighed myself. I don't want to know"), he has been relegated to second-string catcher.
"I'd love to buy the San Diego Padres and bring them here," said Baseball Bill, who got his nickname from a friend's mother. "But what am I going to do for money?" He says he would settle for a job in the front office of whichever team finally arrives.
But he won't settle for any sport but the one that has become his first name.
"I kind of outgrew football," said Baseball Bill, "and everything else leaves me kind of cold." He journeys to Baltimore for baseball about six times a season, but that isn't the same as the 20-block jaunt to RFK.
"Idon't know how many times on Saturday night i've said, 'Wouldn't it be great to say let's go out to the ball game?'" said Baseball Bill. "I see the fans on TV getting all excited, and I just miss it like crazy."
To assuage his baseball lust, Bill has become the terror of a new baseball video game that a Capitol Hill saloon-keeper has installed. For 50 cents, one gets three innings of hitting, pitching and home runs - even an electronic rendition of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game."
Holdforth held forth in a recent nine-inning battle, 9-8. But as soon as the machine read "Game Over," Baseball Bill was at the bar. He was nursing a beer, and while he wasn't crying in it, he wasn't the Baseball Bill he had been during the baseball heydays of the past.