- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2007

When the final major league baseball game is played tomorrow at RFK, the Washington Nationals‘ 2007 home finale against the Philadelphia Phillies, the baseball record books on this stadium will be sealed forever.

There will be goals scored on the soccer field, as D.C. United continues to call the stadium home, and perhaps other events as well. But there will be no more doubles, no more home runs, no more runs scored.

And so another chapter in the quirky baseball history of Washington will come to a close, and with it yet another set of records, this one the baseball marks set at RFK Stadium, a facility that has been around since 1961 but has only been host for 13 seasons of baseball.

Because of that, there are several Washington Nationals who have only been in uniform as little as two seasons here, but yet established themselves enough to be part of the offensive leaders ever to play at RFK Stadium.

There may be no more confusing home to baseball record books than Washington. The first Senators franchise left in 1961 for Minneapolis, and so the Twins’ record books include those statistics and accomplishments that came in Washington. The second incarnation of the Senators left after the 1971 season for Arlington, Texas, and now the Rangers’ records include those marks made in Washington from 1961 to 1971.

And the franchise that is here now, as everyone knows, relocated from Montreal, so the franchise records include what happened in Montreal from the time that team began play in 1969. Vladimir Guerrero is this franchise’s career home run record holder, with 234.

But there’s no real connection. What happened in Washington, and Montreal, for that matter, should stay there. What Walter Johnson did has no business in the Twins’ record books, and Frank Howard should not be included in the Rangers’ history. But that is the precedent Major League Baseball has set, that the records belong to the franchise, wherever it goes, and not to the city and the fans who witnessed them.

The Nationals have tried to tie all of it together in their media guide, with sections for baseball in D.C. records and Washington Nationals records, as well as franchise records.

Now, as RFK says goodbye to baseball, there are another set of records, those made at this stadium.

In an examination of several offensive statistics in RFK history, it turns out that four Nationals will take their place alongside the Senators who played here in the top-10 categories.

Frank Howard, of course, is the all time home run leader at RFK, with 116, followed by Don Lock with 51 and Ken McMullen, who had 47. But Ryan Zimmerman is currently ninth all-time on the stadium home run list, with 21, just behind Paul Casanova, who had 23. And Casanova is behind a former Washington Nationals player who was just here for one season, yet is now part of that home run record list, Alfonso Soriano, who is seventh with 24 RFK homers.

Zimmerman, in just two years here, is all over the top-10 lists. He is fourth in RBI with 117, behind Howard (343), McMullen (163) and Lock (142); eighth in hits with 207 (Howard has the most hits, with 532, followed by Eddie Brinkman, with 426 and McMullen, with 357). Zimmerman has a chance to move up to seventh, ahead of Jim King, who had 212 hits at the stadium.

Remarkably, Zimmerman is second all time in doubles in the history of RFK, with 59, behind Howard, who had 77, and just ahead of Brinkman, with 51. And Zimmerman is seventh in runs scored with 101, and has a chance to move up past King, who had 105.

Howard is the all-time RFK run leader, with 252, followed by McMullen, who crossed the plate 193 times.

Zimmerman, who will turn just 23 on Friday, of course thought this was all “kind of cool, to be in with some of the Senators who played here, even though we haven’t played here that long.”

Nick Johnson, who is back home in California, makes the RFK all-time top 10 lists in doubles, coming in sixth, with 38, and runs scored, in 10th place with 81. Brian Schneider, having been here since Opening Day 2005, comes in at 10th place in RBI with 75. And he thought that was cool, too.

“There is a lot of history in this ballpark, so that is kind of cool,” Schneider said. “Anytime you can be in the top 10 of anything, I’ll take that any day of the week.”

Finally, Ryan Church may or may not be with the Washington Nationals after this season, but he has left his legacy at RFK Stadium. The doubles machine ranks seventh all time in two-baggers, with 35.

And, yes, that is cool. “That is pretty cool,” Church said. “You made my day. Anytime you can be part of history and have your name with some of those other guys who played here is great.”

He will be able to say hello to two of the Washington Senators ahead of him on the list tomorrow, Howard and Chuck Hinton, in the final RFK baseball game ceremonies. That will be pretty cool.

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