IN THE COMPETITION among a dozen cities for major league baseball, Washington has managed to come up with quite a lineup of financial heavy hitters. That, plus a would-be opening day pitcher who lives in the White House, have raised hopes as high as they've been in the past decade and a half that an end is near to silent summers at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
A Washington group that includes developers Oliver Carr, James Clark, Robert Smith and Ted Lerner put its proposal for an expansion team before a major league committee on Thursday in New York. The group has eight members now (and is expecting to take on several more) with assets said to be in excess of $500 million. That's what Earl Weaver of the Baltimore Orioles refers to as "deep depth," the sort baseball owners respect. It was augmented by a letter from President Reagan to Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth expressing support for baseball's return to Washington. The president is aware that the 22nd Amendment limits him to eight opening-day pitches in Washington, but he hasn't had even one.
There is another player whose presence does nothing to dim the brightening prospect. Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the Redskins, has financial resources to match those of the group that made its presentation last Thursday. He, too, would like to own a baseball team in this city. So far he is going his own way, whether it be toward ownership of an expansion franchise or acquisition of an existing one, such as the San Francisco Giants.
Mr. Ueberroth favors group ownership because he thinks it stabilizes a franchise and helps keep it where it is. Washington now offers such an arrangement. Mr. Cooke argues that a sports team is better run by a single owner. We agree strongly with both sides of this argument and would like to discuss it further while watching a baseball game at RFK Stadium in the near future.
Frank Smith, the D.C. Council member who chairs this city's Baseball Commission, made the case for Washington on Thursday before baseball's long-range planning committee: "The Washington of 1985 is not the same Washington as 1971. We've got an expanding economy, 3.4 million people in the area, a Metro system and highway system that's keyed to RFK Stadium and . . . an enlightened city government willing to do things it was not willing to do in 1971."
The owners will meet in about a month, and are likely to vote then on whether to create two expansion teams and if so where to put them. Before that, something may happen with regard to the Giants or another troubled franchise. In any event, one way you can help Washington's chances is by buying the "season tickets" available at banks throughout the Washington area. The bank sets up a special account for you, and if the city gets a team, your money goes toward purchase of tickets. If it doesn't, you get your money back with interest. More than 10,000 have already been sold, which made an impressive arguing point for Washington last week at the meeting in New York.