The coming weeks will be a critical time for baseball fans in this area. Baseball officials have suggested a new home for the Montreal Expos will be revealed soon.

For some reason I feel like Charlie Brown getting ready to kick the football. Will Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos -- a k a Lucy -- pull the ball away from me at the last minute?

The Washington Senators left when I was 2. As a kid two of my most prized possessions were baseball cards from 1971 -- one of the Senators, and one of then-Senators manager Ted Williams. As a Little Leaguer in Northern Virginia, I dreamed of a team locating in our area.

In 1974 Joe Danzansky almost brought the San Diego Padres here; the Topps baseball card company went so far as to print cards with "Washington" on them. Alas, no such luck.

My hopes were teased again in the 1980s. Fans came out in droves to see the Cracker Jack Old-Timers Baseball Classic games at RFK Stadium. Washingtonians also braved long ticket lines to see exhibition games at RFK Stadium and deposited money into special accounts to buy season tickets during the "Baseball in '87" campaign.

My money stayed there until the 1990s, when John Akridge got involved in bringing an expansion team to Washington. But it was not to be.

Bill Collins tried in the mid-'90s on behalf of Northern Virginia, and it was a "done deal" that the Houston Astros would move here for the 1996 season. But the Astros were promised a new stadium, and they stayed put.

So is this the year?

Like many baseball fans of my age, I grew up following the Orioles. I'll continue to be an Orioles fan even if we get a team. That said, I look at my 3-year-old son and think how nice it would be for him to grow up with a local team so that we could see a game on the spur of the moment instead of planning ahead and driving 90 minutes to Baltimore.

Please don't take the football away from me this time, Mr. Angelos.

BUZZ HAWLEY

Falls Church