RFK grandstand repositioned
There is a photo of the ongoing renovation work at RFK Stadium in Sunday's Washington Post, showing that the movable portion of the grandstand has been returned to its baseball position for the first time since 1999. (It probably took several gallons of 3-in-1 oil to get those rollers unstuck!) Last week there was just a huge gap on the third base side. The photo also shows the much bigger new dugouts which are under construction. The work is proceeding so quickly that many of the details are being decided with little or no advance planning. For example, "when the chief groundskeeper asked how close the bullpens should be to the outfield wall, [architect Lane Welter replied,] 'Whatever you think is best. I trust your judgment.'" To make room for a modern electronic scoreboard/advertising message board, unfortunately, the "Hall of Stars" -- the signs with names of past Washington sports heroes that ring RFK Stadium at the mezzanine level -- will probably be moved to a less-visible location in the upper deck. Yet unclear is what kind of main scoreboard there will be. Commissioner Bud Selig has already committed to attending the premier game at RFK on April 14, and I wouldn't be surprised if President Bush shows up as well.
Nats on the tube?
Saturday's Washington Post reported that the Nationals still do not have a television broadcasting deal for the coming year, because negotiations with Orioles owner Peter Angelos over territorial issues and compensation for anticipate revenue declines continue to drag on, with no end in sight. As things presently stand, FOX will broadcast Saturday games from RFK Stadium in August and September.
In spite of the unresolved Angelos issue, and the remote but non-negligible possibility that the new D.C. Council may rethink the stadium funding bill that was passed last month, I've raised the likelihood of the Nationals playing in Washington from 98 percent to 99 percent. In practical terms, they are now past the point of no return, and the costs of an emergency change of location from D.C. back to Montreal, or to San Juan or Las Vegas, would far outweigh whatever extortion Angelos may demand. It would also throw the entire Major League Baseball schedule into utter turmoil. As for the D.C. Council, new member (and ex-mayor) Marion Barry recently checked into a hospital under an assumed name because of some severe flu-like illness. As a consequence, he probably won't have enough energy to contest the stadium bill until the baseball season is about to begin.
Good news: First baseman Nick Johnson and pitcher Tony Armas (Jr.) have signed short-term contracts with the Washington Nationals, keeping the team formerly known as the Expos virtually intact as they prepare for spring training in Viera, on the "Space Coast" of Florida.
Stadium page update marathon
Many thanks to Bruce Orser, a new visitor to this site, for sharing with me ancient blueprints of Yankee Stadium (revisions pending on that page) plus boatloads of great archival photos of several stadiums. The blueprints indicate that in the first year of Yankee Stadium, 1923, the distance down the foul lines was 257.5 feet, only 2.5 feet less than I had previously estimated by eyeballing old photos! I have never seen that figure published before in any book, so that's a major research finding, in my book. Thanks also to all the other regular visitors who keep me on my toes with their sharp eyes and helpful feedback, even if I don't always have time to respond right away.
The (K.C.) Municipal Stadium page has been updated for second time in one day, after I found an inconsistency in the field dimension data in Lowry's Green Cathedrals book. That's one of those stadiums where they kept moving the fence year after year (and even home plate, sometimes), and it becomes hard to maintain accuracy. I believe that makes nine stadium pages I've revised already this month, quite possibly a "personal best."
Which reminds me, those of you who pay regular visits to this site might want to consider making a small contribution to the cause by clicking on the PayPal button above. I have found their service to be very efficient and very fair, but if anyone ever has problems with it, please let me know. I'm not in this for the money, obviously, but nothing says "I appreciate what you're doing!" quite like a crisp five dollar bill, or the electronic equivalent thereof. If your charity/good cause budget has been depleted by donating to the tsunami relief operations, that's perfectly understandable. But if you would like to see further improvements in this site in coming months and years, give some thought to making a small donation. Whatever you think it's worth, I'd be much obliged...