Having been the Senators' stadium announcer for most of the 1960s, I find that just the possibility of baseball returning to Washington brings back memories about the wonders of baseball -- and about the most memorable games played at D.C. Stadium/Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.
Here, in chronological order, is my Top 10 list:
(1) April 9, 1962. D.C. Stadium opens, and the Senators beat the Tigers, 4-1, as Bennie Daniels puts the Senators in the American League lead. Infielder Bob Johnson hits the stadium's first home run as President John F. Kennedy looks on. The Senators later lose 13 in a row and finish last in the American League.
(2) July 10, 1962. Baseball celebrates the opening of its newest major league stadium by holding the first of the two 1962 All-Star Games in Washington. Jim Bunning, later a Republican senator from Kentucky, starts for the American League, but his side loses, 3-1. D.C. native Maury Wills of the Dodgers is named the most valuable player.
(3) Aug. 1, 1962. The Senators lose a doubleheader to the Yankees, 4-2 and 6-5 (in 11 innings), before a record Washington baseball crowd of 48,147. This should be contrasted with another doubleheader (on Sept. 26, 1966) when the Senators and Red Sox attract -- if that is the right word -- just 485 paying customers.
(4) April 11, 1963. Fewer than 5,000 fans see the greatest combined pitching and hitting feats in the history of the stadium. Senators pitcher Tom Cheney allows only one hit and one walk, striking out 10, and Senators catcher Don Leppert hits three home runs as the Senators beat the Red Sox, 8-0. Cheney ends his career with 19 victories, and Leppert ends his with 15 home runs.
(5) Sept. 24, 1966. Despite losing to Chicago, 6-2, the Senators make major league history by having the first female stadium announcer. Joy Hawkins McCabe replaces the regular stadium announcer (me), who is in basic training at Fort Knox, Ky.
(6) June 12, 1967. Just one game but more than 61/2 hours of baseball. The Senators beat the White Sox 6-5 when catcher Paul Casanova -- who has caught the entire game -- hits a run-scoring single up the middle in the 22nd inning. The game ends at 2:43 a.m., causing the American League to institute a rule that no inning may start after 1 a.m.
(7) July 23, 1969. The centennial of baseball is celebrated in the 1969 All-Star Game before 45,259 after a torrential rain wipes out the game the night before. Frank Howard thrills the crowd with a second-inning homer, but Willie McCovey hits two homers for the National League, which wins its third straight All-Star Game inWashington (1956, 1962 and 1969), 9-3.
(8) Oct. 1, 1969. The Senators, under first-year manager Ted Williams (the American League manager of the year), beat the Red Sox, 3-2, in the last game of the season. The team ends up 86-76, only the second time since 1945 that it finishes above .500. Mike Epstein hits his 30th home run of the season, a record for Senator lefties -- only nobody knows it because the Washington newspapers are on strike.
(9) Sept. 30, 1971. The Senators lead the Yankees, 7-5, with two out in the ninth, before 14,460 restless fans, in the last game before moving to Arlington, Tex. Suddenly, thousands of fans pour onto the field to express their anger about Bob Short moving the team. The umpires are forced to forfeit the game. Statistics -- including a Frank Howard homer and the Senators scoring more runs than the Yankees -- count, but the final official score is Yankees, 9, Senators, 0.
(10) July 19, 1982. Seventy-five-year-old Hall of Fame shortstop Luke Appling, playing in the initial Cracker Jack Old Timers Game, hits a first-inning home run off fellow Hall of Famer Warren Spahn as the American League wins, 5-2. Appling, a better hitter than runner at 75, barely makes it around the bases.
My fervent hope is that baseball soon may be back at RFK. Now, if only we can get the Redskins back too.
-- Phil Hochberg
was the Senators' stadium announcer from 1962 through 1968 and for all the exhibition and Old Timers games played since at RFK Memorial Stadium.