Mayor Anthony Williams, after praising former Washington Senators and Greys and thanking all those City Council members who supported baseball – and being the politician he is, even reached out to Linda Cropp, who didn’t – rushed away from D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission Chair Mark Tuohey’s dinner at the Hotel Washington roof. Heading where? To the Wizards game at the MCI Center to watch the basketball team celebrate its first guaranteed playoff appearance since ’97. Incidentally, the Nats were tied for first as they approached their home opener. Baseball is the game closest to his heart, but it’s called equal time.
More praise for the Nats
The pre-Opening Day celebration party was a reunion for the former team and players from the Negro Baseball League. There was even a “prom” committee, lots of Senators memorabilia and baseballs as favors, which some guests had signed by stars of yesteryear. Icing on the cake: Dessert was a white chocolate baseball, chocolate bat and baseball cap. “Baseball cuts across all the artificial things that separate us,” said columnist Mark Shields, a season ticket holder. “It’s not a wise investment, but something I wanted to do.”
Mark Plotkin got Frank Howard’s autograph on a ball. Think how much that would go for on eBay. “I wouldn’t give it a try,” said Plotkin, clenching the ball.
New game in town
Senators pitcher (’62-’70) Jim Hannan, 65, who now lives in Annandale, Va., said, “This club should have been here a long time ago. There was a big vacuum.” He added, “I feel rejuvenated and am happy the club is involving us now.” He remembered being there when they opened RFK for the first game. “The stadium has gotten old.” But he’s intrigued with the new hydraulic pitcher’s mound. “I wonder what happens if it fails and gives way – it’s like a silo. The pitcher would be in the trenches.” Hannan still plays softball. “That’s the little boy in me; I hope I never lose it.”
Hannan is not the only former Senator impressed with the changing game.
Howard, now living near Middleburg, Va., predicts baseball in D.C. will be successful this time around. “This is no longer the sleepy city of 800,000 people it was 40 years ago,” said Howard. “Now, it’s electric with high-tech companies and booming business and six and a half million people to draw from.”
Former Negro League pitcher Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, who played at 5’2″ and 97 pounds and worked as a nurse after retiring from baseball, lives in the D.C. area as well. Mayor Williams said, “We could use her now.” But when asked if she’d like to pitch again, Peanut just shrugged her shoulders.
Immigrant or native?
NewsCorp CEO Rupert Murdoch, who is known to challenge media orthodoxies, while speaking to the American Society of Newspaper Editors at the JW Marriott, called himself a “digital immigrant” and his two young daughters “digital natives.” While talking about the Internet as a new partner of newspapers, he talked about internet portals – Google, Yahoo, MSN – as favorite destinations among Internet users. “Young people don’t want news presented as gospel.” He added: “They want it on demand and want control of media.” The real question posed to newspaper editors, according to Murdoch: “What do we, a bunch of digital immigrants, have to do to be relevant to our digital natives?” His advice is to “marry video with publishing.”
The Great Wall
Murdoch, just back from two weeks in China, where he has one pure entertainment TV channel in Shanghai broadcast entirely in Mandarin, said after three years, “we’re getting close to breaking even with it.” While there, he met “with everybody except the top two leaders,” and with reserved optimism, said, “There are indications that it’s closing up more than opening up at the moment.”
Craft as art
This town is more than politics, although there’s always some involved in landing a slot in a competitive juried show. Five local artisans – Andrea Haffner, sculptured wall hangings; Ellen Mears Kennedy, handmade paper constructions; Nebiur Arellano, vibrant painted silk; Machiko Shishido, pottery; Leonard Streckfus, imaginative sculpture – were selected this year to exhibit their work in the Smithsonian Craft Show produced by the women’s committee, at the National Building Museum through Sunday.
Many Washingtonians look forward to new designs from their favorite artisans each year. Lori Bacigalupi of Norman, Okla., creates Kiss of the Wolf designs, hand-dyed silks with batik, one of the most popular with well-dressed Washingtonians.