With this week’s news that Duffy’s was closing because of financial difficulties, I figured I should ask owner Andy Duffy why he had gone all out to support the Nats for so many years. He sent along this note.
By Andy Duffy
I lived in the Adirondacks, in Upstate New York, until I was 12. Up there, in the pre-ESPN world, the only baseball games that were available were Yankees games on WPIX. I watched every one and was a big Yankees fan. Graig Nettles was my favorite player. At age 12 my parents separated and I moved with my Mom and younger brother to Winter Haven, Fla. We were broke so I worked right away (breaking some labor laws), starting as a busboy/ dishwasher at a place called Harborside Restaurant in Winter Haven. It was a restaurant/bar that was frequented nightly by Red Sox players in February and March; they trained a few blocks away. I met many of the players and would talk to them all the time. Over time, I made the impossible transition from a Yankees fan to a Red Sox fan.
In the early ’90s, when I was a bit older, the Red Sox left Winter Haven and were replaced the next year by the Cleveland Indians, after their new spring training home in Homestead was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. I then was a bartender and manager, waiting on all the Indians players, right at the right time when they had those good teams with Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle, etc.
I didn’t care for the Red Sox anymore because they had left the town high and dry, just because Fort Meyers had offered to build them a new facility. (We didn’t know that the next year we would get the Indians.) The town’s bars and restaurants depended on the huge influx of money that team and fans brought for six weeks every year. I also couldn’t bring myself to suddenly become an Indians fan.
But I still loved the game of baseball, so I just watched baseball for baseball, not really following any one team. I moved to D.C. in 1996 and went to my first MLB non-spring training game at Camden Yards: the O’s vs. the Yankees. I was never an Orioles fan, but I went to as many games as I could each year. But when we got the Nats, I finally felt that I had my own team again, and I latched on completely. We opened Duffy’s in May of 2006. Simply put, I love baseball, and now that I had my own bar, we were going to watch baseball: a lot of baseball. And from the get go, I vowed to show every game, and to support the team as much as I possibly could. In the beginning it was only the hard-core baseball fans that would join me Saturday afternoons or Monday nights, when I would have the sound on. But it was still awesome watching the games with eight to 10 super nerdy baseball fans. Over the years, more and more fans came to know Duffy’s as
Nats bar. It was a lot of fun. I’m going to miss it.