At the height of their careers, some of them were called "Cyclops," "Country," "Hammer," "the Baby Bull," "the Chairman of the Board," "Gimpy" and "Killer." Now they're all just "Misters" again, with one life left behind. And for some, part of that previous life was spent in Washington, playing against (or for) mostly bad Senators teams.

Now they return, coming back for the sixth annual National Old Timers Baseball Classic Monday night at RFK Stadium. As old-timers games go, Washington's is one of the players' favorites. "It's a whole different feeling in Washington in that there's a whole lot of activity. Guys'll get there Saturday or Sunday," said Joe Garagiola, a former catcher and current network sportscaster.

"Every player who played the game was a fan before he became a player," former Washington Senator Mike Epstein said.

Players have heroes, too. Former Baltimore Oriole Brooks Robinson spoke of playing in old-timers games with Ewell Blackwell and Johnny Vander Meer, "all the guys that I read about and idolized." Garagiola remembered the "trademarks" of Robin Roberts' delivery and Minnie Minoso's stance at the plate, which he was able to see first-hand in old-timers games.

"The things that ballplayers do, the little idiosyncracies, carry on throughout their life," Epstein said.

Bill Freehan was in his car, on the way to another meeting, but he had time to talk about the old days at RFK. Not about last year, when he hit two homers to lead the American League to a 19-2 romp in the fifth classic, but about his all-star game visit in 1969 as a Detroit Tiger.

"I hit a home run off Steve Carlton," Freehan said. He doesn't remember what pitch it was, but guessed it was Carlton's fastball. That was one of the few highlights for the AL that year; the National League won the game, 9-3.

The homer was Freehan's only one in 11 all-star appearances as a catcher, an unofficial one in a 15-year career that included 200 official homers. Unfortunately, his all-star record was 1-10. "I was part of that American League streak," he said.

His memories of Washington are not about baseball. "The restaurants were good," he said. "They've got some good golf courses." Of course, the Senators were "not a very good ball club" when he played against them. But the Senators helped the Tigers out before becoming the Texas Rangers. They sent Aurelio Rodriguez, Ed Brinkman and Joe Coleman to the Tigers in time for their 1972 Eastern Division title run.

"They brought talent," Freehan said. "We gave them {Denny} McLain."

Freehan does remember the times the Tigers would visit and take batting practice under the watchful hitter's eye of Senators Manager Ted Williams. Even though the Tigers were the visitors, "we'd come into town and he'd stand around, and he'd tell you about things you were doing," Freehan said.

Now Freehan does the talking, in his seventh year as a catching instructor for the Tigers organization. The youngsters should listen. In addition to five Gold Gloves, he holds the major league record for fielding percentage by a catcher, at .993. "Sparky Anderson just asked {Al} Kaline and myself to spring training," he said. He was originally brought in to work with Lance Parrish, and now teaches the heir apparent, Matt Nokes.

Freehan will come to town today, after having seen Parrish, "a very good friend," play in Philadelphia Friday night. But Freehan, 45, was off to another meeting now, in his job with an auto parts manufacturer's representative agency in a Detroit suburb. He'll be glad to get here.

"Just being in the locker room with the guys; some of them were heroes when you were growing up in Detroit."

Boog Powell is taking time away from his boat to talk about the short porches at RFK Stadium. "It was one of my favorite ballparks to hit in. I think I hit 13 {homers} in there one year. I had two three-homer games there."

A left-handed hitting first baseman, he could use the whole park. "You could reach it everywhere. It always seemed the ball carried well. Left field, center field. Maybe it was the humidity of the air; maybe it was the mediocre pitching staff."

The year Freehan hit his all-star homer, Powell's 37 homers led the Orioles. Mike Cuellar had 23 victories and Baltimore won 108 games, making the first of three consecutive World Series appearances. Powell's 303 lifetime homers are still a team record. Yes, Frank Robinson hit 586 homers, but only 179 of them were with the Orioles.

Powell will be happy to see old teammates and rivals. "It's like nothing has changed," he said. "Maybe the only thing that has changed is a little more weight and a little less hair."

He's been out of the game for a decade now, and at 45, owns a very successful marina in Florida. Other than the "hanging out with the guys, the camaraderie," he doesn't miss the game much. He's only a "so-so" follower of the standings and box scores. "I don't leave work in the middle of the day to see a game," he said.

"I don't think I miss the actual playing of the game or the roar of the crowd, the tinsel, all of that."

Harmon Killebrew had just arrived at the Sheraton in Arlington, Tex., where the Minnesota Twins are in town for a weekend series with the Rangers.

He's with the Twins, as a color commentator for television station KMSP.

In case the irony is not obvious, both the Rangers and the Twins are ex-Washington Senators franchises, and Killebrew played for the Senators for seven seasons before the team moved to Minnesota in 1961.

"I was awfully young when I first came to Washington," he said. "I signed when I was 17. I had no idea how big Griffith Stadium was when I came in. Four hundred feet to left field." Youth and a high fence made it tough for a power hitter.

He only had two big home run totals in Washington -- the two seasons he started at third base. In 1959, he led the majors with 42 homers, and he had 31 in 1960. Then the Senators became the Twins, and his homer totals went through the roof. His next four seasons totaled 46, 48, 45 and 49. His 393 homers were the most of any player during the decade. He hit 40 or more homers eight times in a 22-year career that ended with 573 homers, the fifth-highest total in major league history.

Unlike most former players, though, he really didn't have a transition. He's still very much involved in the game and, as a result, he's not much for nostalgia. "I'm in Washington all the time," he said. As for old-timers games, "if I played two games a year, that would be a lot."

But Monday will be special, anyway. It will be his 51st birthday.