.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} >


[January 13th] -- Though I had attended several games prior to 1969, trips to RFK Stadium were still a thrilling experience for me. The excitement would build as I walked from the parking lot past the concession workers selling food - "get your peanuts, get your peanuts here --- they're delicious and they're nutricious!" was the cry of my favorite hawker. By the time I got to the ticket booth, I was apoplectic with delight. Then, a few steps later, I would hand that little green ticket to the guy at the gate and then, I was in.

I would always stop and absorb the atmosphere. I always went in the same gate, and so the view was always the same. That said, it was new to me every time I returned to the stadium.

I would look left and right, and there were the beginning of those long and lonely concrete ramps that would take the fans to their seats. In front of me, and just to the right, was a concession stand. There was always a short line there - three or four minutes was all it took to get my hot dog and coke. I fumbled in my pocked for my coins as I walked towards the end of the line. Just as I reached it, a tall man slipped in from around the corner and took the spot in front of me.

I saw something you'd never expect to see in a major league stadium.

There, inches away from me - and standing in line - was a man wearing a Washington Senators uniform. I'm talking the real thing. I couldn't tell you these many years later who it was, but there are many things that I do remember about him.

He was a coach. He was probably 6'4" and 230 pounds and still very muscular. He had graying curly hair sticking out along the sides of his "curly W" cap, which was somewhat askew on the top of his head. His face was contorted and red - it was obvious that he didn't want to be there. Heck, he was burning with anger that he was standing in line with the rest of us. There were probably 25 people in the line; me, 23 fans and this guy. My eye level was about in the middle of the uniform number on the back of his jersey. I thought it was so cool that I was close enough to see the individual stitches around his number. I could tell - for the first time - that the blue around the red number wasn't piping sewn on but rather a red number sewn onto a larger blue number, leaving just a tad bit of blue showing around it. I also realized for the first time that the uniform wasn't white. It was creme color.

I began to look r-e-a-l-l-y close at the number - too close - and bumped into the guy. He turned around and looked at me - paused for a moment - and turned back around. He turned around one more time and said, "Hi." "Hi" I said. Then I followed up with this gem: "Did some guy make you get 'em a hot dog?" He stared at me for a moment and then broke into laughter. "Yeah, one of the guys made me go get 'em a hot dog." To this day, I kick myself for not asking who it was (my guess is the only person willing to embarrass a team coach was Ted Williams.

Now, you have to get a clear picture here. We were standing in line, leaning against a white cinderblock wall. The people behind the counter couldn't see who they were serving until they walked into view. Pretty soon, the line shortened and the coach emerged and took his place by the cash register. There was a large African-American man behind the counter who was putting the money from the last customer in the drawer. He slammed it shut and looked up, saying "Can I help ya?" as he raised his head.

When his eyes made contact with the guy in the Senators' uniform, he froze for several seconds. His eyes didn't shift. He didn't move a muscle. "Gimme a hot dog and a Sprite" said my friend. The worker remained frozen save a slight upward shift of his left eyebrow. Then he started to laugh.

And laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

When the coach walked away, his face looked even more angry, if that was even possible. When it was my turn, the man looked down at me and asked with a stern voice, "And I guess you're Frank Howard, right?"

And then he laughed some more.

I strained to spot the coach during the game, but didn't have any luck. It wasn't Nellie Fox and it wasn't Wayne Terwilliger, and it wasn't Sid Hudson - I knew what they looked like. He was probably the bullpen coach, but I just don't know, and probably never will.

I don't remember the game - I couldn't even tell you who won or who played the Senators. But I do remember that guy in the Senators' uniform. It was one of those moments etched and stretched across my memory.

Man, that uniform was creme, not white. Well, what'dya know ....

From the description, this sounds like George Susce, Senators bullpen coach for a while but described in 1969 (http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=57914) as their batting practice catcher. Among other things, George was my next door neighbor in Sarasota, FL. We moved there from Silver Spring, and earlier in the decade, when I was 10, I was thrilled to live next door to a Senators coach.

There was a fair amount of domestic squabling over at the Susce's, which would lead to my dad going out on the back porch and yelling over at George & Co. to "pipe down." So this did not evolve into a close relationship....

I was fortunate to return to DC in the 90's to live on the Hill and work at Swamppoodle (aka the restored Post Office, home to the Consumer Price Index). I only made it to RFK for a Stones concert. I kills me that baseball is back and I'm not, but big thanks to you and the great Nats blogsphere, next best thing......
George Susce, boy, there's a name out of the past. If he was pitching today he be worth at least 40 million over four years. If memory serves me correctly, he was Ted Williams drinking buddy in 1969.
I feel your pain. I haven't lived in D.C. fulltime since 1986. My love - my memories - my blog - all come from some 2,000 miles away in Idaho.

The internet keeps me close, but I pray that one day I can return for a long visit. But now - well, know I am a senior in college (with six kids no less) and will begin my career as a teacher making $27,000 a year in the area. Not exactly the a lot of ducats for trips east.

Thanks for reading, and for your help. After looking up Susce's picture, I am very sure that was him.
Phil -- This is George Sr, and I think he was a catcher as a player. His kid, George Jr, pitched for the Red Sox (Senior was fired as an Indians coach when Jr signed with Boston rather than Cleveland), and his other son Paul was a pitcher as well; not sure he made it to the majors, but I believe he is now the high school baseball coach in Wyeth (sp?) VA. Yep, and Jr. would probably be worth $10m a year....

Farid -- where did you find Susce's picture?
I googled his name and found some pictures of him when he was playing in the 1950's. Add a little gray hair and it looks to be him.
Paul Susce coached at George Wythe High School in Richmond, Virginia from the early '60s through 1974. I played for him his last four years there. He still holds records from his all-SEC days pitching for Auburn University. Never made it to the majors. He had polio in his right leg as a kid. Right leg was smaller on this huge man. He still made it to AAA. Moved back to Florida in '74 where he coached high school for a couple of years. Went to work for Worth Bat Company. He may still work for them. It's been a couple of years since I spoke to him. You either loved him or hated him. I'll always love the man. If it weren't for him I'd be working in a cigarette factory in Richmond.
Correction: Paul Susce, son of George, Sr. and brother of George, Jr. had polio in left leg. I'm a goofy lefty... what do you expect.
Rick Tomlin, the Senators AA pitching coach in Harrisburg played for Paul Susce at George Wythe H.S. in Richmond. Rick graduated in '71.
David, memories of Coach were nice to read..... Paul Susce is retied and living in Southwest Florida, Denny Williams and Harry Saferight and John Grubb keep tabs on coach... I was fortunate to have be on the Wythe team for 5 years, 8th Grade thru the 12th, starting 3 seasons and my senior year finishing # 2 in the state with Jay Franklin out pitching Rick Tomlin... Rick and I wnt on to Manatee together and I played Two yeast their and then two years at Univ. of Maryland.... I live in South Florida ...... GO Bulldogs!
George Susce Sr was my grandfather and George Jr and Paul my uncles. It is so cool to see these posts.
I was a freshman (coach called us scabini's as we pulled the drag) on that team that made it to the state championship team against Jay Franklin. I live in Gainesville, FL.
Winter Park HS is having its 35th reunion on Oct. 15th and would love to have Paul Susce come to it....
is there anyone who can get him that message for us?
I see some of his relatives posted here.

He was my favorite History Teacher (1976) ...
Pamela Amy Tabor, WPHS '76

ddaniel613@aol.com class of 71 bulldogs!!

love to hear from fellow GWHS bull dogs!!
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?