Friday, June 15, 2007

What's In a Name?

By Mitchell

Every once in a while, one of those Paul Harvey Rest-of-the-Story comes along. and you have little choice but to go with it.

Recently while going through some of our John F. Kennedy assassination archives, we came upon this story from the November 25, 1963 newspapers:


‘Kennedy Stadium’ for Nation’s Capital?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (UPI) - A Washington sports writer proposed today that the District of Columbia Stadium be renamed the John F. Kennedy Stadium in honor of the slain President.

Shirley Povich of the Washington Post made the proposal in his daily column, noting that a simple act of Congress could make the $23 million stadium a memorial to Kennedy.

The stadium, considered one of the finest in the country, has been in use for two years by the Washington baseball Senators and football Redskins.

Povich wrote, “A shrine in Arlington is proper. The John F. Kennedy Stadium in the nation’s capital would give even fuller sweep to his memory.”

He recalled Kennedy’s intense interest in sports both as President and as a participant in football, sailing, swimming and golf.

Povich also noted that Kennedy – as every president since William Howard Taft – had thrown out the ceremonial first pitch opening the major league baseball seasons over the last two years.

No president, Povich wrote, “ever lighted up a stadium like the youngest elected President of the United States, himself an athlete and the sports-savviest of all our chief executives.”

He pointed out that as President, Kennedy had created the President’s council on Physical Fitness and had called on the services of Gen. Douglas MacArthur to arbitrate a dispute between amateur athletic organizations that threatened U.S. Olympic chances next year.

Povich commented, “What more appropriate tribute, then, to the late President than the nation’s most resplendent sports stadium named in his honor?”


Things have changed in the intervening years. Shirley Povich (yes, he was a male; until Shirley Temple, Shirley was primarily a masculine name), one of the great sportswriters in the country, was eclipsed in fame by his TV-star son, Maury. The Redskins now play their games in suburban Virginia, and the Senators have long-since fled to Texas. The Washington Nationals are the baseball team in town now, and the “most resplendent sports stadium” in the nation, now considered one of the worst in baseball, will be replaced at the end of the season. The stadium that was, indeed, renamed for Kennedy.

Only it wasn’t named after John, but Robert Kennedy.

In the immediate aftermath of JFK’s death, Philadelphia Stadium, one of the largest in the country (and the home of the Army-Navy football game) became Kennedy Stadium, but the ballpark in Washington remained D.C. Stadium until Robert’s assassination in 1968 prompted its renaming as RFK Stadium.

All that was in the future however, a future that was a mere five years away, a future that would have seemed utterly unthinkable to anyone on the afternoon of November 25, 1963.

And now you know the rest of the story.

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