John Jimison - RFK, Not ready for Prime Time

Date:  06/14/2005

I know it's close and a bunch of you guys have already 
been there, but...

I took my father to go see the Washington Nationals for 
his 75th birthday.  The “best available” seats were in the 
lower deck reserved, behind first base.  

Driving there was a little weird, since it looked like 
there was easy access to exit the park, but not a clear 
way to get there.  But it was a Sunday afternoon game, and 
it wasn’t a bad drive from the national mall area over to 
RFK.  We got there and checked out our seats - we were 
pretty far in the back, but at least we were covered – 
there was a good chance of rain.  I was very disappointed 
that we couldn’t see the scoreboard and our view was 
significantly blocked by the press box jutting down in 
front of us such that a fly ball to left field was little 
more than a rumor.  Fortunately, the only game Dad’s been 
to in the last 15 years was at Jacob’s field, and he sat 
in the outfield about six rows up from Bob Uecker.  He was 
really excited that we were this close, so I kept my mouth 
shut.

I have heard that they sort of rushed the renovations of 
this park to accommodate the team, and it showed.  There 
was some kind of flap about how the ring of honor was 
taken down or something, but was replaced in time for the 
start of the season.  Sure enough it was there, but it was 
just a tarp in right field with the names and teams.  They 
also made a bunch of announcements and player 
introductions, but in the entire game I was never able to 
understand a single word the PA announcer said.  The guy 
next to me was scoring, and I helped him look up the 
program (a free newspaper thing – if they had a real 
program for sale, they need to work on their marketing a 
little) to match numbers when they brought in a new 
pitcher or something.

The food selection reminded me a lot of Shea Stadium – as 
in not much of a selection.  All my father wanted was a 
hot dog though, so that worked out well.  I paid my $14 
for two hot dogs and two stadium cup cokes, and we sat to 
watch the tarp being taken off the field.  If you can 
imagine the Keystone Cops rolling up a tarp, you have some 
idea of our mealtime entertainment.

Sure enough, it rained from the fourth through sixth 
innings, but never enough for the game to be stopped, 
although it was coming down pretty good for a while in the 
bottom of the fifth with the Cubs up 3-2.  Now keep in 
mind that these teams were tired from a 1AM finish the 
night before, it was getaway day, the Cubs are up in what 
has just become an official game, and Greg Maddux is a 
veteran pitcher…who suddenly has major issues with the 
mound.  He would throw a pitch, want the game stopped to 
look at the mound…after throwing at a pretty rapid pace up 
until then.  The umpires still don’t stop the game, 
though, and Maddux eventually gives up a three run homer.  
Suddenly, he’s back pitching at full speed and the Cubs 
have no more issues with the mound the rest of the game.

Anyway, this can really be taken out of context, but the 
best thing about this park is leaving it.  I noticed in 
looking at the stadium map that parking lot #8 exits 
directly onto IH295, so I was already off the beltway and 
headed home before the post-game show ended on the radio.

So the Nats won in an exciting game, my father and I had 
one of those great bonding memories, but now my mother 
complains that Dad hasn’t so much as seen a hotdog since 
without commenting how many of those he could have had for 
the $4.50 (that he didn’t have to pay, mind you) spent at 
the ballpark.