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RFK Stadium

By Wikipedia

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, informally known as RFK Stadium, is a professional sports stadium that opened in the fall of 1961. Originally called D.C. Stadium, it served as home to the Washington Senators of Major League Baseball from the spring of 1962 through 1971, when the team moved to Arlington, Texas. The stadium was also the home of the Washington Redskins, a team in the National Football League, from 1961 until 1996, when they moved to FedEx Field in suburban Maryland.

At a glance...
Facility statistics
Location 2400 E. Capitol Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20003
Broke ground 1959
Opened October 1, 1961
Replaced Griffith Park
Replaced by Jack Kent Cooke Stadium
(Redskins, 1997)
Owner District of Columbia
Operator D.C. Sports & Entertainment
Surface Grass (Prescription
Athletic Turf)
Construction cost $20M
Architect George A. Dahl;
Osborn Engineering
Washington Redskins (NFL, 1961-1996)
Washington Senators (MLB, 1962-1971)
Washington Diplomats (NASL, 1974-1981)
Washington Federals (USFL, 1983-1984)
D.C. United (MLS, 1996-)
Washington Freedom (WUSA) (2001-2003)
Washington Nationals (MLB, 2005-)
Seating capacity
45,596 (2005 Baseball)
55,672 (2005 Football & Soccer)
Left Field - 335 ft
Left-Center - 380 ft
Center Field - 410 ft
Right-Center - 380 ft
Right Field - 335 ft
Backstop - 54 ft

The stadium was renamed for slain presidential candidate and former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy in 1969.

Concerts featuring renowned rock bands and performers still take place at the stadium. It has also hosted soccer matches in the (men's) 1994 World Cup and 2003 Women's World Cup.

The stadium now serves as the home of the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball and D.C. United of Major League Soccer. A complex conversion is necessary to switch the stadium seating from baseball to soccer configuration and back again. This includes rolling the 3rd-base lower-level seats into the outfield along a buried rail, dropping the hydraulic pitcher's mound 3 feet into the ground, and laying sod over the infield dirt. In 2005, this conversion was done over 20 times.

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RFK Stadium was, for 35 years, known as home to the Redskins, whose return to prominence as a football power began the same year the Senators left D.C. The Redskins' first game in RFK Stadium was a 24-21 loss to the New York Giants on October 1, 1961. The team's first win in the stadium was over its archrival, the Dallas Cowboys on December 17, 1961. The Redskins' last win at RFK Stadium was a 37-10 victory over the Cowboys on December 22, 1996.

As a baseball park, RFK Stadium is unique in having only an upper deck across the outfield, atop a high wall. Burly slugger Frank Howard hit a number of tape-measure home runs in his career, a few of which landed in the center field area of that upper deck. The stadium hosted the first 1962 All-Star Game, which was attended by Robert Kennedy's brother, President John F. Kennedy (in whose Administration Robert Kennedy served as Attorney General) and the 1969 All-Star Game, which was played in the daytime after a rainout the night before. Another memorable baseball moment occurred in a Cracker Jack Old Timers game in the early 1980s, when 75 year old Hall of Famer Luke Appling hit a home run.

With its revival as a major league baseball facility, RFK Stadium now displaces Dodger Stadium as the fourth oldest major league ballpark, behind Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium. Its first baseball game was the day before Dodger Stadium's first game, and it was first opened for football the previous fall.


RFK Stadium!

Full resolution version of the 2005 photo is here.

Photo by Getreprimanded

04/09/1962 Tigers 1, Senators 4
Umpires Charlie Berry, Joe Paparella
  Eddie Hurley, Hank Soar
Managers Mickey Vernon, Senators
  Bob Scheffing, Tigers
Starting Pitchers Bennie Daniels, Senators
  Don Mossi, Tigers
Ceremonial Pitch President John F. Kennedy
Attendance 44,383
Batter Jake Wood (single)
Hit Jake Wood (single)
Run Willie Tasby
RBI Bob Johnson
Single Jake Wood
Double Danny O'Connell
Triple Jim Piersall
Home Run Bob Johnson
Grand Slam Clete Boyer (04/27/1962)
IPHR Chuck Hinton (08/06/1963)
Stolen Base Earl Robinson (04/21/1962)
Sacrifice Hit Jake Wood
Sacrifice Fly Jackie Brandt (04/20/1962)
Cycle NONE
Win Bennie Daniels
Loss Don Mossi
Shutout Art Quirk, Wes Stock
Save Hoyt Wilhelm (04/20/1962)
Hit by Pitch Claude Osteen hit
Jim Gentile (04/21/1962)
Wild Pitch Bennie Daniels (04/22/1962)
Balk Pete Burnside (04/20/1962)
No-Hitter (None)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet

New Developments

On September 29, 2004, Major League Baseball announced its intentions to move the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C. and rename them the Washington Nationals. RFK Stadium has undergone a $13 million dollar renovation, and will be used for a total of three years for the new baseball team, while a $440 million dollar state-of-the-art stadium is built on the north bank of the Anacostia River at South Capitol Street. Their first regular-season home game at RFK was April 14, 2005, vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks.

On April 14, 2005, just before the Nationals' home opener, the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission announced an agreement with the Department of Defense under which the military would pay the city about $6 million for the right to place recruiting kiosks and signage in the stadium. In return, the stadium would be dubbed Armed Forces Field at RFK Stadium. This plan was dropped within days, however, after several prominent members of Congress questioned the use of public funds for a stadium sponsorship.

Memorable games/moments at RFK Stadium

  • After trailing the Cowboys 24-6 halfway through the third quarter on November 28, 1965 quarterback Sonny Jurgensen leads the Redskins to 21 fourth quarter points and a 34-31 comeback victory.
  • The Redskins beat the New York Giants 72-41 on November 27, 1966. The 113 combined points are the most ever scored in an NFL game.
  • In the Washington Senators' final home game, on September 30, 1971, the Senators lead the New York Yankees 7-5 with two outs left in the top of the ninth. Fans storm the field and tear up bases, grass patches, and anything else they can find for souvenirs. The Senators forfeit the game, 9-0.
  • On December 31, 1972 the Redskins defeat the Cowboys 26-3 in the NFC Championship game to earn a trip to Super Bowl VII.
  • In a Monday Night Football game on October 8, 1973 Redskins safety Ken Houston stops Cowboys' receiver Walt Garrison at the goal line as time expired to secure a win.
  • December 17, 1977 - the Redskins defeat the Los Angeles Rams 17-14 in what would be head coach George Allen's final game with the team.
  • October 25, 1981 - the Redskins narrowly beat the New England Patriots 24-22 to earn head coach Joe Gibbs his first win at RFK Stadium.
  • January 22, 1983 - the stadium physically shakes as a capacity crowd of 54,000 chant "We Want Dallas" taunting the hated Cowboys in the NFC Championship game. The Redskins go on to defeat the Cowboys 31-17 to earn a trip to Super Bowl XVII where they beat the Miami Dolphins 24-17.
  • September 5, 1983 - Redskins' rookie cornerback Darrell Green chases down Cowboys' running back Tony Dorsett from behind to prevent him from scoring. The Redskins go on to lose the game 31-30.
  • November 18, 1985 - Giants' linebacker Lawrence Taylor sacks Redskins' quarterback Joe Theismann breaking his leg and ending his NFL career. Backup quarterback Jay Schroeder comes in and leads the Redskins to a 23-21 victory.
  • January 17, 1988 Cornerback Darrell Green knocks down a Wade Wilson pass at the goal line to clinch a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game. The Redskins go on to defeat the Denver Broncos 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII.
  • January 4, 1992 - in pouring rain the Redskins beat the Atlanta Falcons 24-7 in the Divisional round of the playoffs. As time winds down in the fourth quarter the fans shower the field with the free yellow seat cushions given them when they entered the stadium.
  • January 12, 1992 - the Redskins destroy the Detroit Lions 41-10 in the NFC Championship game earning a trip to Super Bowl XXVI where they beat the Buffalo Bills 37-24.
  • December 13, 1992 - Redskins coach Joe Gibbs coaches what would be his last win at RFK Stadium. The Redskins defeat the Cowboys 20-17.
  • October 30, 1996 - Ten days after winning the first Major League Soccer title, D.C. United defeats the Rochester Rhinos 3-1 in the U.S. Open Cup final, achieving the first "double" in American soccer history.
  • October 26, 1997 - D.C. United defeats the Colorado Rapids 2-1 to win their second consecutive MLS Cup.
  • August 16, 1998 - D.C. United defeats C.D. Toluca of Mexico 1-0 to win the CONCACAF Champions' Cup, becoming the first American team to do so and marking their first victory in an international tournament.
  • October 15, 2000 - the Kansas City Wizards defeat the Chicago Fire 1-0 to win their first MLS Cup.
  • April 14, 2001 - the Washington Freedom defeat the Bay Area CyberRays 1-0 in the inaugural match of the Women's United Soccer Association.
  • November 6, 2004 - D.C. United win the Eastern Conference final by tying the New England Revolution 3-3 and advancing on penalty kicks. They would go on to defeat the Kansas City Wizards 3-2 in the MLS Cup.
  • April 14, 2005 - Washington Nationals defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3, before a crowd of 45,596, to win their first home opener in Washington, DC. They go on to sweep the 3-game series.

Related Books on Ballparks
The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee
Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
Ballparks by Robert Von Goeben and Red Howard.
Ballparks: Then & Now by Eric Enders.
Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballbarks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums by Ira Rosen.
Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks by Jay Ahuja
Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
Video: Story of America's Classic Ballparks
Video: Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Economics of Stadiums
City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

General Stadium Reference:
Sports Staff of USA Today. The Complete 4 Sport Stadium Guide. Fodor's, 1996.

Stadium Design and Financing References:
Philip Bess. City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. Knothole Press, 1999.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Common Courage Press, 1998.
Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. HarperCollins, 1997.
Kevin J. Delaney, Rick Eckstein. Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Brookings Institution, 1997.
Dean V. Baim. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Greenwood Publishing, 1994.
Stadia: A Design and Development Guide by Geraint John and Rod Sheard. Architectural Press, 2000.
Michelle Provoost, Matthjis Bouw and Camiel Van Winkel. The Stadium: Architecture of Mass Sport. NAI Publishers, 2000.

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An aerial view of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.

DOD Photo by David MacLean

Year by Year statistics: for RFK Stadium

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