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Sports Memorabilia Abounds in the Collection of Retired Baseball Broadcaster Phil Wood


Sep 6, 2023

On a spring day 41 years ago, a group of Minnesotans took part in what could be described as urban exploration or impromptu archaeology. But Phil Wood, a sports broadcaster, jokingly referred to it as vandalism. This incident involved the discovery of a blueprint for what would eventually become Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. The blueprint was dated Nov. 15, 1956, and labeled “National Memorial Stadium.” It ended up in Phil’s possession when someone contacted him, claiming that they had found it in the old office of team owner Calvin Griffith at the previous Minnesota Twins ballpark. The trespassers had gone into Metropolitan Stadium, which would eventually be demolished to make way for the Mall of America.

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, also known as RFK Stadium, was home to Washington’s NFL franchise, the Senators, and the Nationals. However, the stadium is now being discussed in terms of its future use. It is widely agreed that it cannot simply be a football stadium, as it is only used a few times a year. The blueprint provides an interesting look at the original design conceived by Dallas architects George L. Dahl and Walter W. Cook. The open-roofed stadium had a field suitable for both baseball and football, but it also featured additional spaces such as a 7,500-seat ballroom with a stage, a balcony, and exhibition space for conventions. Instead of vast asphalt parking lots, multistory parking structures were proposed.

There were even grander plans for the stadium in the past, such as a suggestion by Sen. Theodore Bilbo from Mississippi to create a stadium capable of seating at least 175,000 people. There was even speculation about a unique “floating” roof that could be raised or lowered with the flip of a switch. Construction of the stadium was authorized in 1957, and it opened in 1961 under the name D.C. Stadium. Following the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, it was renamed in his honor in 1969.

The blueprint is just one piece in Phil Wood’s extensive collection of sports memorabilia, most of which is related to D.C. baseball. Inside his basement, he showed off jerseys from players like Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Vernon, Roy Sievers, and Eddie Yost. Against the wall rested a set of wooden seats from Griffith Stadium. Wood reminisced about attending his first Senators game as a child and his father’s advice about enjoying the experience of a major league baseball game, win or lose.

Wood eventually decided to retire from his position as a radio broadcaster for the Nationals after the 2019 season. He was pleasantly surprised when the team won the World Series that year and even received a World Series ring as a parting gift.

By Editor

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