- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2001

The D.C. Sports Entertainment Commission deserves a big, fat Boo of the Week where’s Warner Wolf when we need him? for its plans to remove memorials to Redskins founder George Preston Marshall and longtime Senators owner Clark Griffith from the premises outside RFK Stadium.

What’s going to replace them statues honoring Raul Diaz Arce and Mia Hamm? Even though the Senators no longer exist and the Redskins frolic in FedEx Field, a city’s sports traditions are, or should be, sacred.

Sure Griff was a notorious skinflint, and Marshall ruined the Redskins for 25 years by keeping them lily white. That doesn’t mean they should be cast into oblivion like out-of-favor pols used to be in Moscow.

Our friend Gordon Thomas of Arlington says he remembers, sort of, when the Griffith memorial was dedicated Aug. 8, 1956, “because that was my fifth birthday.” Doing some quick research, Thomas learned that the old Home Plate Club raised $7,000 to have the memorial created a few months after Griffith’s death. It was designed by the Clagett Memorial Co. of Arlington, Gordon says, and the inscription was contributed by veteran baseball writer Bob Addie.

If the Washington area regains its own major league team and the chances are looking better and better it should be in some kind of touch with its predecessors. The Griffith memorial and the one to Marshall, too should stay right there at RFK so fans of the future can feel a link to the past.

Onward, Nats News

One of the few joys for veteran area baseball fans these past five years has been the quarterly publication of “Nats News” a treasure of memorabilia from the days when we had a major league team.

The newsletter always bulges with news, cartoons and pictures of the Senators (a k a Nats), both the original and expansion variety. It looked recently as if the publication might be scrapped because founder/editor Tom Holster just had too many other things going. But now a pinch hitter could be riding to the rescue.

He is Jim Hartley, a professional musician from Darnestown and author of a book detailing the daily misadventures of the expansion franchise. He met with Holster last weekend to discuss details, and if all goes well …

“My first issue probably would come out in September, and I’d like to get some theme issues going,” Hartley said. Otherwise, there probably won’t be many changes nor should there be.

One of the best reasons to read “Nats News” is the regular column by Phil Wood, the baseball historian and sportscaster whom WTEM-AM inexplicably has kept on the sideline since January. The current number also offers a novel idea for the defection of the expansion Senators to Texas in 1971. Russ White, a former sportswriter for the equally defunct Washington Daily News and Washington Star, suggests that the town’s inept writers and broadcasters were largely responsible.

It is hoped that Holster’s Washington Baseball Historical Society will continue to stage its “NatsFest”, which gives former Senators the baseball variety, that is a chance to sign autographs and exchange stories with the fans who remember them. At any rate, Holster deserves credit for his service in trying to keep at least the memory of major league baseball alive in these forsaken parts.

Cal and Cooperstown

Want to see Cal Ripken inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007? Get in line.

“The anticipation is equal to or more than that of Nolan Ryan [two years ago],” said Hall of Fame spokesman Jeff Idelson, noting that the shrine had “a couple hundred calls” after Ripken announced he would retire at the end of this season.

“I think it’s because Ripken’s such a popular player and also probably because Baltimore is within driving distance of the Hall of Fame,” Idelson said. “Ripken embodies what one looks for in a Hall of Famer character, integrity, and he’s been a great player.”

It’s a little early, though, for Orioles fans to make travel plans. No date has been set for the 2007 ceremonies, which traditionally are in late July or early August. The date won’t be announced until the fall of 2006.

Gee thanks, Dad

In case you’ve wondered why Tiger Woods pumps his fist after making a big shot, dear old dad has solved the mystery. Tiger isn’t exactly Fred Astaire when it comes to tripping the light fantastic, so a victory dance would be a disaster.

“He has very little rhythm,” Earl Woods said recently in Bloomington, Ill. “His teammates at Stanford used to laugh at him at parties when he would dance or try to dance.”

Well then, how about singing a little tune by way of celebration?

Nope, that won’t work either. Says Earl: “Tiger can’t carry a tune in a bucket. He used to sing ‘Jingle Bells,’ and he would embarrass the heck out of me.”

As we all know, Earl loves his famous son very much. Imagine what he would say if he didn’t love him.

Eminently quotable

Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland, on playing with Arnold Palmer in a pro-am event: “I can’t believe how nervous I am. It’s like playing with the Babe Ruth of golf.” …

Former Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, on why he doesn’t want his 1-year-old son, Javian, to become a football player: “I think he can make more money doing something easier than getting his body beat up.”

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