My town is a baseball town. The capital city enjoyed a lively, if not always winning, baseball history for 70 years but has been without a major-league club for 31 baseball seasons. Throughout those drought years, however, the old Senators ball club continued to be a staple of conversations, and a bonding force, for longtime area residents.
Never during those three decades, however, has the prospect of Washington getting a baseball team loomed larger or appeared more promising.
While a team like the Montreal Expos sometimes played before a mere 2,000 spectators last season, Washington went "teamless." Our city even has a stadium that could be used as an interim site until a permanent ballpark is constructed.
RFK Stadium, originally D.C. Stadium, was built with baseball in mind and opened in 1961. Although the last major-league game was played there on Sept. 30, 1971, RFK could be readied in short order.
Bobby Goldwater, president of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, acknowledges that much would have to be done at the stadium. Even so, he estimates that the work can be done in as little as six weeks. Think of it! Just six weeks and several million dollar and, bingo, the District could once again hear that melodious cry, "Play ball!"
In contrast to its last baseball days, our city now has a Metro system to transport fans to and from RFK and any subsequent ballpark. Imagine! At last, it will be possible for us to "root, root, root for the home team" -- ours, not our neighbor's.
One thing lacking in Washington's efforts to get a ballclub has been citizen involvement. Feeling that a symbol was needed, local artist Christos Joannou has devised a logo for Washington baseball that features the U.S. Capitol, a baseball and a modernized "W" in patriotic red, white and blue. It can be seen on the Web site washingtonsenatorslogo.com.
Frederic V. Malek, whose Washington Baseball Club is one of the groups trying to get a team, made one one suggestion when the logo was unveiled at a forum he sponsored in June: Incorporate the name "Senators" into the design. Malek, like me, believes that any new Washington ball club should retain that historic nickname.
For many years, fans of the old Brooklyn Dodgers would say at the end of each baseball season, "Wait till next year." But in regard to getting a baseball team, waiting is not the right attitude. Too many Washingtonians say, "I'll believe it when I see it," or "I'll get behind a team if and when it arrives."
Instead of waiting to get behind baseball in D.C., however, we should be out in front and pulling to help make sure it happens. We need a team effort to make a Washington team a reality. We ought to be vocal about our desire to bring baseball home.
My town is a baseball town. Give us a team, and we'll prove it. Incredibly, for too long, baseball commissioners have walled off the nation's capital from having a ballclub.
Mr. [Bud] Selig, tear down this wall. Washington wants baseball. And right now, baseball, whether it knows it or not, needs Washington. Let's play ball!
Vance Garnett, a freelance writer, is a member of the Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia. He and his wife, Geri, live in Cleveland Park.