For those who remember the sounds and sights of Washington Senators baseball games at RFK Stadium, the Bring Back Baseball Rally held yesterday had its poignant moments.
From the first notes of "Take Me Out to The Ball Game" by a band at third base, a small but hard-core group of almost 1,000 baseball lovers cheered and sang as announcer Nat Allbright called a "play-by-play" home run from a microphone on the pitcher's mound.
"Go, Hondo!" screamed a fan as the Frank Howard in his mind rounded third base and headed for home plate - a bona fide, cleat-marked plate that stadium general manager Bob Sigholtz had resouned from the Senators last game.
For many of the children, it was the first time they had visited a major league baseball diamond, or at least one at RFK, which has had nothing but football and soccer lines since the Senators moved to Texas in 1971.
But for Jim Davis Sr. and Jim Davis Jr. of Rockville, the temporary baseball configuration was flawed.
"This is a baseball park. It wasn't built for football. It's for baseball," said Jim Davis Jr., a Yankee cap atop his head, as he gazed at a center field now shortened by football stands.
"Covering up the scoreboard with football seats. That's not right," added Jim Davis Sr., in a Cubs cap. "That was the best scoreboard in baseball and now you can't see it."
At the first base dugout, Frank Higdon inspected the two end seats for which he always had season tickets. "I just had to go and find my old seats," Higdon said. "You know, I could just see Frank Howard coming out today."
Higdon is a director of the new Alexandria-based organization HOME RUN, which cosponsored the rally with E. Joseph Wheeler, a Washington businessman who founded Washington Pro-Baseball, Inc.
The corporation is attempting to raise money to buy a baseball club through sale of stock to the public. Wheeler's goal is to raise $23 million. So far, 258 persons have bought $49,7000 worth.
Wheeler acknowledged yesterday that scheduling a baseball rally in the middle of the football season on a day when Ohio State and Michigan were performing on television and Maryland was hosting Virginia was poor timing.
Wheeler said he hoped the rally would inspire local businesses to buy stock. He added he was "pleased with the kind of people who came but disappointed there weren't more."
Those who came heard speeches from baseball celebrities bemoaning loss of the Senators and calling for return of the national pastime here.
"I think it is a disgrace that this is the nation's capital and we don't have baseball here," said Leo Durocher. The same sentiment was echoed by present and former major league players Willie Mays, Ralph Kiner, Jim Lemon, Chuck Hinton, Bucky Dent, Danny Litwhiler, Steve Ridzik, Warren Cromartie, Andre Dawson and Tommy Holmes, and sportswriter Bob Addie.
After a little more than an hour, the Thomas Jefferson High School marching band struck up a musical finale and the fans started filing out many chanting "We want baseball."
An hour later, a stadium crew had replaced third base with an end zone and ABC-TV trucks were preparing for Monday night's Redskins game.