With the Nats and their latest new manager back in the news, longtime play-by-play voice Charlie Slowes had occasion this week to reminisce about the history of Nationals managers. Which led him to one of his favorite stories about a Nats manager, one I had never heard but immediately loved.
This took place at RFK Stadium, following a twi-night doubleheader, with an early game scheduled for the following day.
“And the parking lot for the players and staff was out in right field, next to all of the trash dumpsters,” Slowes told Andy Pollin on Pollin’s latest D.C. sports podcast, which will be released on Wednesday. “Every night you’d go to and from your car with that smell. So I’m going to get in my car — you’d go all the way around to the outfield, go up this ramp to the parking lot — and I get in my car, and Frank Robinson’s parked next to me.
“I guess he’d just got into his car, he’s listening to the radio or something,” Slowes went on. “And he rolls his window down — and he was still in full uniform! He goes, ‘I’ve got to be back so early tomorrow, why even bother changing?’
“So my thought was — as he rolls his window up and he pulls away — he’s living in an apartment building in D.C.,” Slowes said. “And I’m just thinking, he’s got to go in the garage and go up to his apartment. He’s doing that in full uniform? If you lived in the apartment, you’d go, ‘Hey, who’s the guy in the Frank Robinson uniform?’ ”
“I couldn’t believe that he did it, and to this day nobody else knows that story,” Slowes said. “I’ve told it to a couple people, but nobody else saw it, so it’s not believable to anybody else.” But Slowes called it “one of my great memories” from his time with the Nats.
Meanwhile, Slowes — who also has a history with the Tampa Bay Rays — has known new skipper Dave Martinez for 20 years, and has spoken with him frequently about his desire to get a big league managerial job.
“I’ve talked to him every year,” Slowes said. “I talked to him during the [Nats-Cubs] playoff series. Each year I’d see him back in Florida — because we live near each other — and he’s say, ‘I’m so ready, I’m ready to have my own team, I’m ready to manage, that’s what I want to do.’ So I knew that he interviewed when Matt Williams was hired; he was the runner-up. I knew he was considered after Matt Williams, but they decided to go with the experienced manager. I knew he interviewed for other jobs.”
Slowes did not mention whether Martinez ever drove home from a game in full uniform.