The Washington Senators had an accordionist, Merv Conn

During yesterday’s Washington Nationals broadcast, Dave Jageler was lamenting that the strike zone was going back and forth like an accordion. A discussion about accordions with Charlie Slowes ensued. I don’t think they know that in the 1960s, the Senators hired Merv Conn to play the accordion during games (I mentioned it a couple of years ago). A brief demonstration and explanation from Conn himself:

That was from local filmmaker Jeff Krulik‘s The Legend of Merv Conn which is available here:

Conn was more than just a musician at RFK Stadium, he was a beloved music instructor and performer, even though “The Beatles killed the accordion.” Here’s a 2007 profile from John Kelly before the documentary came out – A Legend With Oomph — and Oompah

Conn died in 2011, his obituary is here.

As for Krulik, he has made many films but is best remembered for Heavy Metal Parking Lot. We talked about that several years ago during the 25th anniversary of HMPL. While all his work is enjoyable, I suspect that Charlie and Dave would enjoy this award-winning documentary.

MEANWHILE IN THIRD PLACE

So, don’t look at the standings until Memorial Day?

NL-standings-20140527

Maybe it’s supposed to be the actual Memorial Day, rather than Memorial Day Observed.

Between injuries and Matt Williams over-managing and love of bunts and sacrifices, the Nats are struggling. Thankfully, Chicken Man on the case:


After Memorial Day loss, fans plan chicken sacrifice Tuesday at Nationals Park
Let Teddy Win

What took so long?

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A new DC United home may be near (and not a moment too soon)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there may be a new stadium for D.C. United in our time:

Sources: D.C. United and District government finalizing stadium dealThe Post

And not a moment too soon:

Well done X-Men moviemakers, I guess. You just destroyed the most all-time beloved venue of sport in the nation’s capital. There’s no way RFK Stadium would have held up that well in real life too.

In all seriousness, I hope DCU finally gets a new home; I’m withholding any significant emotional investment until I know they’ll be here for the duration. I suppose the Baltimore/Washington/Chesapeake Bayhawks might be interested in that venue as well.

H/Ts

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Another edition of Nats COLD T8KEZ, swept out of Oakland edition

I know I’ve said it before, but I really expected to see Chico Harlan’s byline for the gamer in The Post this morning awful Washington Nationals series in Oakland. The last time D.C. won a baseball game there — August 2, 1970 (Baseball Reference), the first game of a doubleheader. The Swingin’ A’s took the nightcap on a walk-off, 1-0. Rollie Fingers pitched 8 shutout inning. Joe Coleman went 6 for D.C., but Horacio Pina lost with 2 outs in the 9th.

SOOOOOOOO…

We’re about a Nats loss away from a team meeting, right?

My microcosm of the series:

Another one:

Small sample size, but Gio single-handedly beaten by a game by the guy he was traded for (Derek Norris, 2 3-run homers) doesn’t feel good. Also, Robbie Ray has won his first two starts while the Nats have one start and a loss by Doug Fister. D’oh!

So, this is going to be the week that DC MSM’ers start questioning why Cal Ripken, Jr. wasn’t hired as Nats manager, isn’t it?

Hey, there is a Tom Boswell chat today!

HOW DID THAT WORK OUT?

Having about four innings with the Opening Day lineup this season to date isn’t optimal, but mental errors are preventable. They haven’t played crisp since September 2012 it seems.

MattsTown - Washington Nationals - Matt WilliamsNo Arizona Diamondbacks guest prognosticator unless I get inspired and ask John McCain and he agrees to do it. Matt Williams lives in Phoenix though, so I guess we’re really talking about MATTSTOWN now. Also, MATTITUDE is really just is Rigglemantude with a better pedigree and less boring media appearances

Ian Desmond isn’t contributing much on the field right now, though Barry Svrluga’s article on his family and how it deals with baseball season is good reading.

The Nats are the 14th smartest spender in MLB over the last five years according to Bloomberg Business Week. Take that Barves!

This has nothing to do with the Nats, but Weezer’s Blue Album is 20 years old as of Saturday.

Of course, a good series in ‘zona would make this trip look a bit different.

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Weezer’s Blue Album is 20 years old

Welp, that was fast.

I remember when “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was 20 years old and it being a big deal. I think it came out on CD concurrent with that anniversary which might be the part of it. Physical media!

Weezer’s “Blue Album” isn’t that big a deal and Weezer’s aren’t the Beatles.

Not even close.

But it was a fun album of its time and a nice contrast to grunge which had peaked and was only going to get worse — I’m looking at you BUSH. “Buddy Holly” is still the great turn-it-up and roll-down-the-windows-on-a-warm-day classic it’ll always be.

Gee, it’s so quaint to look back on Rivers Cuomo’s lyrics and think about how much he’s grown as a songwriter, singer and man since…okay I can’t say that with a straight face.

Weezer t-shirt, front

Apparently, the social contract mandates going through the album and saying something about the songs.

My Name is Jonas – annoying, awful, almost killed album before it began

No One Else – catchy sounds like every other song

The World Has Turned and Left Me Here – beginning to think that high school never ended for this dude

Buddy Holly – Windows 95 (not so good Al)

Undone – The Sweater Song – proto shoe-gaze

Surfwax America – Catchy, kind of different than the other songs. A little at least.

Say it Ain’t So – always seemed to hear it going over Blue Mountain on I-81

In the Garage – He talks about KISS who were best described as “they suck, but they have sucked longer than anybody else.” That was over 20 years ago.

Holiday – just a set up for Island in the Sun years later

Only in Dreams – more proto shoegaze that never ends

Oh and good job by producer Ric Ocasek for this album.

Some people who took this assignment more seriously than me:

Now, people who took the assignment more seriously than I did:

‘The Blue Album’ at 20: Looking Back at Weezer’s Debut, Track by Track «.

Remembering Weezer’s ‘The Blue Album,’ A Garage Rock Classic, on Its 20th Anniversary – The Daily Beast.

Weezer's 'Blue Album' at 20: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review | Billboard.

Weezer t-shirt (back)

DEATH TO FALSE NERD ROCK!

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Nats vs. A’s Q&A and prediction with Tom Bridge

The first D.C. baseball trip to the East Bay since August 1971 (the Senators were swept by the AL West winning A’s) begins late Friday night. For the third time, We Love DC co-founder Tom Bridge, a credential Washington Nationals blogger, is here to answer questions about a Northern California team of his youth. Previously Tom participated in Redskins vs. 49ers Q&As in 2011 and 2013.

WFY: Do you still closely do you follow the Oakland Athletics these days? What’s a bigger factor in your level of fandom, the distance/time zone or having a new baseball team a bicycle ride away from where you live?

TB: I still follow the beat writers on Twitter (seriously, follow Susan Slusser, she’s great), so I keep abreast of the news, but with most of the games starting at 10pm Eastern, I tend to catch just the highlights. Being 3,000 miles away is hard enough, but 3 hours behind? I won’t catch much of this series.

WFY: I often ask guest prognosticators what the best book and/or popular culture contribution is about the guest prognosticator’s favorite team, but these seems too easy — Moneyball. What was your reaction to the book and if you’ve seen it, the movie? Are there any other books about the A’s you’d recommend?

TB: If you haven’t read this book, you should really read it. The movie’s a fine telling of part of the story, and the way the 20-game winning streak is treated is a joy on the big screen, but the book is really its own animal and one you should really make the effort to read.

WFY: Billy Beane has built a team that regularly competes, but hasn’t broken through, do you think with his current resources he can win the pennant? As a fan of both teams, do you appreciate that they trade each other players frequently?

TB: So, it’s fascinating. I think there’s a comparison to be made between the Capitals and the Nationals. It’s not that the Caps are spendthrift, but they’re franchise-building only to make it so far. They want the basic playoff revenue, but there’s something about the way things are being run that just doesn’t get them any farther than that. In Oakland, that’s budgetary pressure. In Washington, it’s the front office’s limited capabilities.

It’s kinda fun that the A’s and Nats have found themselves trading partners. I think the deals have worked out well for both clubs, and I think Rizzo and Beane seem to be excellent foils for each other. I, for one, would enjoy watching them fight crime together, buddy cop style.

WFY: How are the broadcast teams? Do you have the A’s MLB.tv package?

TB: I love the A’s broadcast teams. I miss Bill King immensely on the radio. His voice was the sound of summer days, so much so that when I heard him on the At-Bat app, I could smell the tomatoes in the field, and the cut grass, and the chlorine of the pool down the street. He was marvelous. Now, Ken Korach and Ray Fosse are on, and while they’re great broadcasters, it’s not quite the same as it was then.

I don’t catch much of their TV crew these days, though.

WFY: Recent research suggests there is not a single zip code where A’s fans are the plurality, much less the majority. Were the A’s always the second team to that degree and if not, when did it start changing, or at least where you were?

TB: I started following baseball seriously the first year we had season tickets. 1988. The A’s made the Series that year (more on that in a bit) and the Giants were 11 1/2 games out of the Division. While the Giants had been in the thick of it in 87 and would be again in 89, I had no shortage of A’s fan friends, as well as plenty of Giants fans as well.

WFY: The A’s of your childhood dominated won the AL and won three pennants, but only the 1989 World Series. Did they max out or leave more on the table? How strange was the earthquake as an A’s fan and a Northern California resident?

TB: They left the 88 Series on the table. One bad slider. One bad, bad slider. And every time I see Kirk Gibson hobble around those bases…

Sigh.

They were the better team that year, but not after that slider.

The Earthquake was a monumental tragedy for the area. People died on the Cypress Structure freeway, and on the Bay Bridge, and in the fires that followed. It was a nightmare. But that was a day that baseball saved lives. The quake hit at 5:04pm. Right at the start of rush hour. Only most of the city had gone home early to make the 5:05pm start of the game. I can’t even think how many more would’ve died during a heavy rush hour in Oakland.

WFY: The elephant in the room (I’m sorry, that’s terrible) is that those A’s teams had some steroid users. Does it taint the memories at all?

TB: Yeah, it does. Canseco was a problem for the franchise even then, but the roids he was doing was pretty much known. McGwire hurt more. The culture of baseball was pretty broken then, and I’m not sure we’re past it yet.

WFY: Who is the best A of your lifetime and is he also your favorite?

TB: The best? Dave Stewart. Four straight twenty-win seasons from 87 to 90? A forkball that just disappeared? The smoky stare that put fear into the strongest hitters? Totally my favorite. Stewart was a monster. He pitched over 1,000 innings in four years, with 700+ Ks, 375BB, and 7 complete game shutouts. He was the heart and soul of that club and it was a joy to see him out there every give days.

WFY: The A’s are desperate to leave the much maligned Oakland-Alameda Colosseum and it’s sewer leaks, but from a fan’s perspective how is it? I always found the massive foul territory to be a bit off-putting, but overall how does it stack up? I know the outfield upper deck built to lure back the Raiders is a source of anger amongst A’s fans. When did you last attend a game there? What’s the quintessential food and beer at an A’s game?

TB: I last made it to a game there about a decade ago, so my domain knowledge of the Coliseum is less than current. It was a workman’s ballpark, with the simple pleasures, Bud and Miller Lite, colossal dogs, ball park nachos with orange cheese, and hot coffee when it got cold late in the evening. I loved the wide foul territory, and the bullpen just inside the lines. Our seats were down by the A’s bullpen, and we could watch Eckersley warm up late. It was a big place, not intimate like a tiny chapel, but massive, like a cathedral. The concrete, exposed and flat, made it a noise machine, but the view out into the Oakland Hills was majestic.

But that was before Al Davis (may he ever rot in hell) ruined it with the Raiders’ return.

WFY: The Silicon Valley A’s – Do you support the A’s leaving the East Bay for San Jose? From here, it seems like they put in good faith efforts to stay in Oakland or elsewhere in the East Bay, but I have not followed it closely.

TB: I support the A’s getting a good place to play ball. I would hope that would come in Oakland, paid for by the owners of the club, but I suspect they will end up in San Jose. That’s okay, too, but I know a lot of fans who will hate that. It’s not my team as much as it used to be. I’ll leave that decision in the hands of others.

WFY: Which happens first, Bud Selig makes decision on the A’s or Nats TV situation.

TB: The heat death of the universe. Both of those will be decisions made by the next Commissioner.

WFY: Who takes the series?

TB: A’s take the series, Nats win behind Gio on Sunday. Wildcard here is Fister. He can beat Milone, but I worry he’s not 100% yet.

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2014 Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies Q&A and prediction with Kevin McGuire

One of the most prolific guest prognosticators is back to talk about the Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies series. Kevin McGuire, blogs about the Phillies at Macho Row, but is best known for writing for College Football Talk.

WFY: Looking at the standings, the supposed worn-out and elderly Phillies are 13-13. How did the get there?

KMc:The Phillies have been incredible up and down, a team consistently inconsistent. It has been difficult to figure out the offense at times, but we do know that it has a number of holes at key positions. The top of the starting rotation has been fine and just welcomed back Cole Hamels but the bullpen has been going through some growing pains holding on to leads as well. It seems when the pitching is doing well, the offense cannot score runs and when the offense bursts out, the pitching cannot hold the fort down.

WFY: On Wednesday night’s radio broadcast of the Nats game, Charlie Slowes mentioned that the Phillies were essentially going with a three man rotation right now due to days off. Is this accurate? I see Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett and Cole Hamels are the probable starters for the series, while the Nats still have not announced theirs. We know Jordan Zimmermann won’t pitch, though Gio Gonzalez could on Sunday. The Nats rotation is all messed up right now.

KMc:The Phillies are skipping Kyle Kendricks spot in the rotation this weekend to go with the top three pitchers this weekend. Cliff Lee has had two rough outing but has been brilliant at other times. AJ Burnett has been a solid addition to the rotation and Cole Hamels will get his third start of the season after a rough night against the Mets this week. This is a fundamental change in philosophy that comes with Ryne Sandberg and his staff compared to past years under Charlie Manuel. Sandberg is taking a bit more of an aggressive approach by adjusting the rotation so early in the yer but that is because he likely sees the importance of winning division games now instead of trying to catch up at the end of the season. If the Phillies are going to stay afloat and in the conversation, winning games against division opponents is the way to go.

WFY: What have the Phillies strengths been thus far? How good can the 2014 Phillies be?

KMc:I think the offense, as a whole, has been pretty decent this season. Chase Utley has been the clear MVP but I feel as though I have seen better at-bats from Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard early on by showing more patience. The Phillies lack strength though and have to rely on moving base runners, which has been a problem at times.

WFY: What’s going on with Dominic Brown?

KMc:He is off to a slow start and has been lacking the power we saw at times last season. At this point in his career Brown has not been living up to the hype but if I recall he was actually off to a slow start last season as well before busting out to become an All-Star candidate. He seems to have all of the physical attributes to be a really good corner outfielder in the middle of the line-up, but he needs to cut down on the strikeout-walk ratio to provide better protection behind Howard.

WFY: Who is the Phillies best player, face of the franchise, people’s champion right now?

KMc:Best player? Chase Utley. Face of the franchise? Chase Utley. People’s champion? Chase Utley.

Philadelphia loves Chase Utley and the way he plays the game. His way of preparing for a game is also something fans can get behind. He never appears to take a play off, and Philly fans love a player who hustles. I have always been more of a Jimmy Rollins fan but Utley is without a doubt the player most fans would consider the face of the franchise right now.

WFY: Is GM Ruben Amaro’s job in jeopardy or is that just WIP caller’s wishful thinking?

KMc:The pressure is on Ruben Amaro, that is not just hot sports take radio at work, but I honestly do not see the Phillies making a change at the position even if this season results another season without a playoff game. The reason I suggest that is because the Phillies have long been a Phillies family-oriented organization, and Amaro is as much a part of that family now than anyone. Firing one of their own is not a decision the Phillies do quickly (Ed Wade was general manager for eight years, Amaro is in year six). Bad contracts (notably Ryan Howard, Jonathan Paplebon) have restricted some of what the Phillies can do, and that falls on Amaro, who has acquired Cliff Lee twice and may have to be put in a position to trade him once more if things go south.

WFY: How are the new Phillies broadcasters working out?

KMc:Just so everybody understands, Comcast has more say in the Phillies broadcast teams now that they signed a new rights deal last year. That meant broadcasters handpicked by the Phillies before were no longer safe. That led to the removal of longtime Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler and former player Gary “Sarge” Matthews. The Phillies kept Tom McCarthy as the TV play-by-play voice and Comcast added former Phillies Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs in the booth. So far the new team seems to work well, although there are still some rough spots that are being worked out for the broadcasting rookies. Moyer and Stairs each bring a unique approach to the broadcast and nobody in the booth seems to want to fill all of the open air. McCarthy gets a bad reputation by some but I honestly feel he is doing just fine with his new partners. Moyer and Stairs split the games for the most part but sometimes are both in the booth.

KMc:I have not had a chance to really digest the Sunday home broadcasts, when Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt joins the broadcast as well for Sundays with Schmidt.

WFY: What’s the best book about Philadelphia baseball you have read?

KMc:The 2008 season brought a number of books to my collection, as you might expect, but the The Rotation co-written by longtime beat reporter Jim Salisbury and the well-respected Todd Zolecki may be my favorite. The book focuses on how the Phillies put together the starting rotation in 2010 that included Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and that other guy (Joe Blanton).

WFY: Who takes this series and the season season? How do you think the NL East shakes out?

KMc:I actually feel pretty good about the chances the Phillies have this weekend, but I would still lean on a healthy Nationals team to take the season series by a slight margin. My thought about the division remain the same though, and that is the team to beat plays in Atlanta. I think the Mets and Marlins will be pesky for everyone, but I think the division goes Braves, Nationals, Phillies, Mets and then the Marlins, who have two of the best players in the division by the way (Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton).

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BeltwayLand beer: History, more on Nats Park beer

It’s time again for my monthly-ish round-up of BeltwayLand and beyond beer news.

WETA has a brief feature on brewing in the D.C. area with Garrett Peck, author of Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, D.C. (I need to get it) which gives the broad history of beer in the area. Fun fact – Robert Portner developed air conditioning to make lager beer year round at his Alexandria brewery. Two of his great-granddaughters are going to open Portner Brewhouse in Alexandria, details TBD. They are also mentioned in Washingtonian‘s Women in Washington’s Craft Beer Scene. Now, on with our feature presentation:

The beer map! The Annual Nationals Park Beer Guide is up on The Nationals Review. Service blogging!

Beergraphs.com also visited Nationals Park recently and gave it an 86 (B).

Devil's Backbone Vienna Lager

Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager won The Post’s Beer Madness, a regional beer tournament (that’s a big region). I’m a fan and have been since I tried it at the behest of Slow States. Once I found it. It’s now my go-to during my now infrequent trips to the Vienna Inn, but I can’t seem to find it in stores of late. Harris Teeter shaved off $2 from the price of a six-pack, so that may be part of the reason. Overall, it seems harder to find local/regional beers in grocery stores of late, is anybody else noticing that?

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Britain on the Green is this Sunday at Gunston Hall

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY is Britain on the Green, the region’s premier British car show, sponsored by the Capital Triumph Register. The weather forecast is sunny and clear all day. Over 250 cars spanning the last 100 years of automotive technology are expected. Included in the price of admission is a tour of the historic Gunston Hall, the famed home of George Mason a founding father of our nation – irony! Food trucks and entertainment will be available on site.

BOG Spectator Admission Prices:
Adults: $10
Seniors: $8
Children 6-18: $5
Children under 6: free
Family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children): $25

My brother Christopher will be showing Tommy, the Triumph TR250 our dad bought new in 1968 in Arlington and owned the rest of his life — he was probably the only original TR250 owner left! Come on down and vote for Christopher. They’ll be other cars there too.

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Nats #COLDT8KES: 22 games in

I don’t blog about (anything) the Washington Nationals as much as I used to and this week or two was a good example. I have a new desk in my condo though, so perhaps further inspiration is coming. Here are some thoughts running through my head.

A – The Scarlett letter. The Nats are 12-10 overall, but a pathetic 2-9 against teams that wear the letter “A” on their caps, the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim Anaheim Angles. They don’t have to play a team with an A until May 8 when head to Oakland to play the Athletics, so get ready for .900 ball until then! Then they play the Arizona Diamondbacks, who sometimes where an “A” right after the Oakland trip. Overall, they have 21 games left with teams that potentially wear an A cap. #fancystats

MattsTown - Washington Nationals - Matt WilliamsMATT WILLIAMS sounds better in pre-game radio previews than he manages at this point. Better than the post-game interviews too (BRYCE HARPER BUNTING WITH TWO STRIKES IS OKAY?!). Like a lot better before the game starts. We have a term for umpires who think the game is about them, so what’s the Ump Show equivalent? Manager Show seems to long, Skipper Show is not much better. Maybe #SkipShow is what we need to use for when managers that just have to constantly remind everyone they are managing a team. It’s early though, Jayson Werth even said so! (Nats Enquirer)

ANTHONY RENDON was probably not too upset about Bryce Harper not touching first base the other day, since it obscured the brutal error he made that cost a game. Speaking of errors…

IAN DESMOND is in a bad place right now. At least he homered in the 9th of Monday night’s loss. That’s a Ryan Zimmerman trademark, good to see somebody pick up the late solo home down several runs while Zimmerman heals.

DANNY ESPINOSA seems to have learned from his dreadful 2013 or more likely healed.

TYLER CLIPPARD is having a Desmond like stretch on the mound. I’ve been expecting his arm to fall off for a few years now, so that time may be here and that makes me sad.

WHY DO THE BARVES HATE FREEDOM?

BALTIMORE ORIOLES BILLBOARDS near the D.C. border aren’t a really a problem, but I understand why some fans think that they are — I suppose they are a problem because why weren’t the Nats advertising on them? The real problem is any reporting on them neglects to mention the Orioles franchise voting against D.C. baseball and of course the MASN situation. The animosity Nats fans have for the Orioles is earned and not petty inter-city tribalism. The D.C. MSM needs to do a better job reporting on that aspect, but probably never will.

ENOUGH OF “TAKE ON ME” It’s time to put 2012 in the rearview. While there is no tangible correlation between holding onto to memorable, but doomed seasons too long doesn’t always work out. Carlton Fisk’s Game 6 homer as a great moment for Boston Red Sox fans, but the Cincinnati Reds won that World Series and it was almost 30 years until the Red Sox could say the same. Nats fans, like me, were probably too nostalgic for 2005 for too long, Senators fans for ’69 and so on. Let’s save #natitude for special occasions too and not every good thing that happens.

CHARLIE SLOWES AND DAVE JAGELER ought to dial back the homer stuff a wee bit. Their constant griping about the umps drops them to an A-. Still great having them back.

THE BEER MAP! Cheers to Charlie at The Nationals Review for putting together the beer map again.

RIP CONNIE MARRERO – He was awesome, learn more.

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RIP Connie Marrero

Connie Marrero, who would have been 103 years old this week, has died. He pitched for the Washington Senators for five seasons, beginning as a 39 year old rookie in 1950. His overall record was a respectable 39-40 (Baseball Reference) and he was an All Star in 1951. Marrero was celebrated as the oldest living baseball player in his native Cuba where he was a legend. Ted Williams said Marrero threw “everything but a ball” while Marrero liked to say he “threw everything but his cigar.”

Rick Maese of The Post wrote a long feature on Marrero earlier this year that’s a wonderful read — At 102, Connie Marrero, the oldest living former major leaguer, spends days in Cuba.

Marrero’s contributions to D.C. baseball did not end with his career. As a prominent figure in Cuban baseball, he continued to teach. Among his proteges is Livan Hernandez, tied for all-time modern Nats wins with Jordan Zimmerman. Marrero taught Hernandez how to throw the curve which is detailed in a DC Sports Bog post – Connie Marrero, oldest Major Leaguer and former Senators pitcher, dies at 102.

I am not aware of any tribute by the current Nats, but hopefully they can do that tonight. ¡LIVAN! is still in the organization, so they ought to work with him on celebrating the unique life of Marrero.

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William F. Yurasko's blog v.15 – Nats, Redskins, Capitals, D.C. life, transportation, not so much Penn State anymore,