Dick Cecil, the organizer of Monday night's Cracker Jack Old-Timers Classic at RFK Stadium, has encountered all the usual problems of putting on such a game--plus a few others.
But the one thing Cecil never had a second thought about, since he came up with the idea 18 months ago, was where to play it.
"(RFK) is the logical choice, but to tell you the truth, I've been pleasantly surprised with the response. I think this is something the players and fans all thought was overdue."
More than 18,000 tickets have been sold for the five-inning exhibition, and Cecil is expecting a crowd of 25,000-30,000.
The game's rosters read like something straight out of a board game.
For the American League: Camilo Pascual, Early Wynn, Mickey Vernon, Bob Feller, Whitey Ford, Lefty Gomez, Luke Appling, Al Rosen, Charlie Keller, Brooks Robinson, Johnny Mize and Enos Slaughter.
For the National League: Don Newcombe, Robin Roberts, Ewell Blackwell, Johnny Vander Meer, Smoky Burgess, Ernie Banks, Pee Wee Reese, Ted Kluszewski, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Stan Musial.
Even Cecil is surprised at the presence of some of those players.
"When we started rounding up players, a lot of others starting calling us and saying, 'Hey, what about me?' The response has been good because this is not some fly-by-night thing," he said.
And Cecil hopes to avoid any arguments about the "greatest" players by making the game an annual event and rotating the players as well as the site.
Cecil, a scout and executive for 17 years with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, got in touch with Borden Inc., about 17 months ago with the idea for the game. The manufacturers of Cracker Jack, long associated with baseball, liked the idea, and agreed to put up $1 million for the game.
The game's promoters have taken out a lot of stock in sentimentality, but in this case, nobody seems to mind.
"It helps a lot to have somebody who you can be sure will pay the bills," Cecil said. "This is not a moneymaker; the purpose is not to turn a profit.
"We're bringing these players back for one night of entertainment. They might look a little different in their uniforms, but nobody's going to mind. The guy might strike out, but in your mind's eye, he'll be hitting a double."
In fact, Cecil has done his best to avoid the "Can-baseball-make-it-in-Washington" question, selling his game as nothing more than one night of nostalgia.
Cecil gives much of the credit for the game's predicted success to the strong base of credibility that the organizing committee provided. That committee, which included such names as Tal Smith, 1980's baseball executive of the year; former Pirate General Manager Joe Brown; Hall of Fame historian Cliff Kachline; former Red Sox executive Dick O'Connell, and former umpire Tom Gorman.
Also on the committee is Chuck Stevens, secretary-treasurer of the Association of Professional Ball Players of America. The 40-year-old APBPA, which Cecil says is the most respected organization in baseball because it helps old and needy players, whether they made it to the major leagues or not, will receive part of the game's proceeds.