Monday, January 30, 2017

10 fun facts about Nationals Park

Ever since I started my "fun facts" series, I've had the idea of doing a piece about Nationals Park. Now with spring training on the horizon, I'm seriously starting to have baseball on the brain.

Baseball in Washington D.C. finally made its way back, now celebrating more than a decade of a District-based professional MLB team. For 30+ years the city was without a pro-baseball team, but that was rectified in spring 2005 when the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals. The team was first slotted to play at RFK Stadium with a future stadium planned. In 2008 the Nationals finally got its own digs and it’s a beauty. 

We are big baseball fans in my family and usually try to get to at least a few games a year. Located in Southeast D.C. in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, the state-of-the-art stadium is large and very clean. It's also conveniently located near the Navy Yard Metro station.

Want to know more about Nationals Park? Read on.

10 fun facts about Nationals Park

1. The stadium cost more than $611 million to build. It is owned by the Lerner Family, who are natives of the District. 

2. The park opened for the spring 2008 season and can hold more than 41,000 spectators. Depending on which source you read, the figure varies. I’m not clear if the higher numbers include standing room areas, but generally, it’s in this range. 

Jordan Zimmermann, no longer with the team, takes the mound a couple of years ago. Ryan Zimmerman, then 3rd baseman, now plays 1st base.

3. The field dimensions are as follows – left field is 336 feet, center field is 402 feet and right field is 335 feet. The left and right center fields are respectably 337 and 370 feet each. 

4. Kentucky Bluegrass makes up the field. According to, the three types that make up the field are Princeton 105, Brilliant and Midnight Star. 

5. A lot of dirt needed to be excavated to bring the park to realization. More than 34,000 truckloads carrying a total of 340,948 cubic yards were removed. The main concourse of Nationals Park is at street level and the playing field is 24 feet below.

Team mascot "Screech" spotted before a game
6. There are lots of cool things to see if you have time to kill before the game, such as taking a walk around the stadium’s concourse. Lots of eateries, shops and photography opportunities are to be found. Additionally, there is an exhibit called, "Baseball Americana" with history shared by the Library of Congress. The exhibit opened in April 2015 and will run indefinitely. 

7. The stadium is simply called “Nationals Park”. At this time there is no corporate sponsor reflected in the park’s name.  

8. The park is family and kid-friendly. The Nationals organization likes to keep things “clean” and appropriate for all ages. There is also a play area for the kids to enjoy. Not to mention the President mascots are often found wandering around doing meet and greets with fans. 

The 4th inning Geico-sponsored Presidents' Race is a popular highlight during any Nationals home game.

9.  In the spring 2008 opener, the Nationals played the Atlanta Braves (Nats won 3-2). Then a rookie, now team veteran, Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off homer in this game. The seat is now marked in blue.  

In 2015, the Washington Post reported that going forward the Nationals will be marking historic or long-distance home runs with different colored seats and small plaques. In places where the homer doesn’t land on a seat, a plaque will be placed. 

2015 MVP Bryce Harper hit two historic homers in 2014 that are now marked. The first was a third level bomb and the second happened in Game 1 of the NLDS that year.
Fielder Jayson Werth also hit one of those historic homers. His 2012 bomb landed in the bullpen during Game 4 of the NLDS and is marked with a plaque.

10. In summer 2018 Nationals Park will host the All-Star Game. 

To date, the Nationals have yet to go to the World Series or make it past a division win. However, they’ve won a remarkable three NL East Division titles in five years (they seem to be on an every other year pattern), the first being in 2012. If things go as they have the past several years, this would be an off year. But then again, who knows! This might be the season they buck their previous trends and take it all the way to the end. I hope so. Either way, I know I’ll be watching!  

Took this photo a few years back after a team win

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