Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Favorite Sports Teams

A question came up this week about how you became a fan of your favorite team (or teams). Here was my answer:

The Washington Redskins: Our family would get together and watch every Sunday. We'd watch Sonny Jurgensen pass for a ton of yards and the 'Skins would lose 45-34. I had a great group of neighborhood friends and we would always toss the football around. The intensity picked up when George Allen and his "Over the Hill Gang" came to town and took them to Super Bowl VII during his second year in 1972. Then Joe Gibbs, version 1.0 came to coach the team in 1981 and the Redskins won three Super Bowls during his tenure. I was able to see a lot of games at RFK Stadium by either getting tickets from friends or working the ticket market outside the stadium. I saw a lot of games in person of what was easily the greatest era in Redskins history. I still miss the NFL atmosphere at RFK Stadium. I went to one game at Fed Ex Field almost ten years ago and wasn't impressed at all. Now I prefer to watch games in the comfort of my home.

The Baltimore Orioles: The expansion Washington Senators left town for Arlington Texas in 1971. It was the second Senators team to be moved in a dozen years (The original Senators moved to Minnesota in 1960) and in early 1972 my Dad met the Public Relations Director of the Orioles Bob Brown at some function. Dad told him I (ten year's old at the time) was sad the Senators had left. In the mail the next week was an Oriole t-shirt, a cap, a yearbook, a schedule and some player picture cards. I was hooked as an Oriole fan and have been ever since. Dad told me write to Mr. Brown thanking him and we corresponded for a couple years after that. While I'm thrilled Washington DC has the Nationals, I'm still loyal to the Orioles and will always be.

The Washington Capitals: Dad and some co-workers had season tickets from 1974-75 through 1979-80. In year one, we sat through what was the worst record ever in NHL history. 8 wins, 67 losses and 5 ties. That's 21 points. The expansion Caps won one game on the road that year. I loved going to the games those early years as the sport was new to me. Perhaps I felt sorry for those expansion Caps, I don't know. They got to the Stanley Cup Finals once and lost in four games to Detroit but I was able to catch the final game in Washington. It was neat seeing the Stanley Cup awarded on the Caps ice but unfortunately the Caps weren't the one receiving the Cup. I fell off the NHL fan wagon during the 2004-05 lockout but I get a pair of free tickets every year from friends and I go. I am slowly hopping back on the fan wagon again as I had a blast at the New Year's Day win over Ottawa and it was fun going to see the Caps practice the next day in Arlington VA. I like the new logo but will always be partial to this one though.

I used to play a lot of basketball in our neighborhood, driving Mr. & Mrs. Goodrich crazy when I would go up to their house and ask to shoot hoops in their back yard. I'd play a lot at Woodacres park as well. The Bullets went to the NBA Finals in 1974-75 and I was hooked. Big E, Wes, Bobby D and CJ would win the NBA title finally in 1978 and they made the Finals again in 1979. It's been a struggle for the franchise since the mid '80's and all of the '90's but they have made the playoffs the past three seasons and have a pretty decent squad this year. I still get to a game or so a year but I prefer to watch them on TV. I still love the old Bullets nickname and logo.

University of Maryland: In 1973 Dad, my Uncle Joe and I went to a game at Byrd Stadium against the University of Virginia and I was hooked. In school at Elon (NC), I would get to as many football games as possible. Saw the Terps play at UNC, at NC State, at Wake Forest and at Duke. I have had season tickets since the 2004 season and it's my main team I go see in person now.

I've loved Maryland Basketball since watching the 'ol Lefthander (Lefty Driesell) coach Tom McMillen, Len Elmore and John Lucas. I still think what may have been had Moses Malone played a couple seasons there at College Park...Again, I would see as many Terps basketball games as I could while in NC and no doubt Lenny Bias was the best player I ever saw and that includes Michael Jordan. My personal highlight was attending the 1984 ACC tournament in Greensboro, NC the only time Lefty won it. Gary Williams has resurrected the program following Len Bias' death, winning a National title in 2002 and ACC tournament title in 2004.

Real Madrid: I saw my first match in September 1990. Over the next ten years when I visited Madrid I went to Santiago Bernabeu stadium. I've seen ten matches there including the classic Real Madrid-Barcelona derby (1995, a 1-1 draw). My overall record is 7 wins, a loss and 2 draws. I have GOL TV here at Casa Benjamin and get to check out Real Madrid and the rest of La Liga on a regular basis.

D.C. United:
Mother's Day '96 was my first DCU match at RFK Stadium, the one where the MetroStars Tab Ramos got red carded and D.C. United lost in a shoot-out tiebreaker (Since abolished by MLS). The record fell to 2-6 at the time. I remember some fan smashing a beer bottle in the RFK parking lot and yelling "(expletive) losers!" The "(expletive) losers" have won four MLS Cups and have had the best regular season record four times so its worked out well for the Red and Black. Prior to D.C. United's arrival I used to go see the Washington Diplomats of the NASL play at RFK. The Dips as they were called, made the playoffs a few times but never won a title. I guess I got hooked on the sport by watching Soccer Made In Germany on PBS, then the great Pele joined NASL and the NY Cosmos, so I followed the Dips. Still love the logo.

I'm a Washington DC sports homer. I've seen many great games over the years. I hope to have many great memories with Benjamin as he gets older and I introduce him to these teams and history.


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this blog. Thanks for doing it. Mom.

Bill-DC said...

Apparently 257 people enjoyed it today as this easily shatters the most views in a day (60) set last year.

Karen said...

Billy, this blog is so well written and speaks for so many of us raised in the Washington, DC area. Visions of the Wood Acres court and the Goodrich's back yard take us back to the greatest of times.
I remember those fans on Cromwell Drive when we would run out and honk the cars horns when the Redskins won.
I look forward to your posts especially after MD wins!
Watch those girls play! Karen

Bill-DC said...

My friend Ian wants to get me out to a Lady Terps game and I plan to go real soon and I will report on the game.