MARK HYMAN reported in The Sun last Saturday that the Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority "have opened talks" on naming the new baseball stadium.
He quoted authority chairman Herb Belgrad as saying, "we just mentioned the four names that seemed to turn up more often than others: Camden Yards, Babe Ruth, Memorial Stadium and Oriole Park."
Those are the names that finished 2-1-4-3 in an Evening Sun telephone call-in poll this month. (It was 2-1-3-4 in a recent WMAR-TV call-in poll.) This is some change. Orioles Park was first and Babe Ruth Stadium was second in a 1988 Sun survey.
The Orioles plummeted because the team is doing so poorly, obviously. If they get much worse, there will be more sentiment here for Key Stadium, for the minor league Frederick Keys, than for Orioles Park. There may even be sentiment for moving the Keys here and the Orioles there.
The third-place name in 1988's poll was Memorial Stadium, often in the form of New Memorial Stadium. If we go that route, I recommend Memorial Stadium II, in the yachty tradition of Pride II.
The popularity of Babe Ruth Stadium is a tribute to the campaigning of Evening Sun sports columnist John Steadman. A native of Baltimore, like Ruth, he has been pushing this idea with nativist fervor. (Another Baltimore boy, William Donald Schaefer, came in fifth in the 1988 Sun poll. Nobody wants Schaefer Stadium today. His popularity has sunk even lower than the Orioles' in the past three years.)(Are there any other locals suitable for having a stadium named after them? H.L. Mencken Stadium? Duchess of Windsor Stadium? Naaah.)
Washington Post sports columnist Tom Boswell leads the attack against a Babe Ruth Stadium. He recently wrote, "Perhaps as divine punishment for not [supporting] baseball in Washington, it's starting to look like the Orioles park is going to be named after -- snicker -- Babe Ruth. That would be like naming the Kennedy Center after Goldie Hawn. She was born in Silver Spring, right?"
To this Terry Hill replied in the Post, "For Boswell to have the gall to question naming a stadium for Babe Ruth while standing in the shadow of RFK! Excuse me, but what did Bobby Kennedy ever do for baseball? The Babe earned his crown. If Washington were a real sports town, the stadium would be called Goose Goslin Memorial. . . -- but no, [it] is named after a politician."
Good point. Note that "if." Those seeking a major league franchise for -- snicker -- Washington may pretend otherwise and promise to name the team the Nationals rather than the Senators of yore, for example, but that fools no one. Washington is not a real sports town.
Washington is a politics town. The next new stadium there is more likely to be EMK (for Edward Moore Kennedy) Stadium than GG (Goose Goslin) Memorial. Teddy is Washington's kind of sport.