Monday, September 24, 2007

My College Home

I may not have been at RFK for years on end. I may not have gone to concert after concert or a multitude of sporting events. I will, however, continue to think of that park as a home.

I moved to DC only a few months before the Nationals did. I began my college hunt right around the time that the MLB started a serious search for a place to move the Expos. My freshman year of college saw me pouring of the newspaper at breakfast to keep track of how the discussions were progressing with getting a team to Washington.

Personally, I would like the think that I've been good luck for the Nats. I move then DC gets a team. My first game was Memorial Day 2005 and we beat the Braves. I've obviously been back several times since then, carting roommates, friends, and the occasional awkward date out to the ol' concrete doughnut.

RFK was the place where I first got a team of my own. My father (I am aware that what I'm about to say is boarder-line evil) raised me a Yankees fan. (I would like to say that he did use to play in their minor league system before going to Vietnam; that usually gets me out of trouble.)

However, earlier this summer when I finally got it in my head to ask my dad what number he used to wear, he realized something. Dad said he wore number 11, and I told him a little something about Ryan Zimmerman and the hot corner. My dad paused briefly and then said, “You really have a team you follow now, don't you?” Thanks to the Nats and RFK, being down there so often these past three years, my dad realized that I had grown up. I had my own ball team now.

This entire last week the Ryan Girls sat in our favorite sections, getting looks at the field we'll never manage again: Friday, the boxes that we'll never be able to afford again; Saturday, section 517 where we spent most of our season; Sunday, started in the outfield upper deck and finishing up down in 214.

The 3-5 win was just that much sweet coming off of two days of losses. It takes a lot to get Phillies fans to quiet down but losing to the home team managed it. Daisy's hit by pitch got us the lead; he did ask Manny before he went up if he should take one for the team. It was the way the Nats have played all year. Fight to the end for everything, and remember you're part of a team, do it for the team. Everything was sweeter that day. The stands bounced in nearly every inning and it sounded like every third out was being pitched in the ninth.

I know that Nationals Park will be better for everyone. But RFK will be the place that marks where I grew up. I moved away to college, and I moved into that stadium. I finish up college this year and the Nationals move. The whole of my collegiate career has been connected to that stadium. Nothing can replace that sensation of leaving home and finding a different one. I found Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and I'll miss it too.

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