by Amanda Comak
It wasn’t long after Matt Williams was named the Washington Nationals manager last fall before he began to figure out where his help might be needed most in the D.C. community. Little more than a month after he was appointed as the fifth field manager in Nationals history, Williams found himself enjoying lunch at the Red Porch on a cool day among men with whom he shared an interest: teaching the game of baseball.
Williams welcomed a group of District of Columbia Public Schools varsity baseball coaches to Nationals Park that day, and talked with them about the challenges they face in trying to foster the game in the District.
A few months later, each coach received a letter from Williams.
“As a leader of a team, I am aware of the challenges that you face as a coach,” Williams wrote to each coach. “While neither I, nor the Washington Nationals, will have a solution to all of your struggles, I am interested in helping you achieve success.
“One of the challenges that resonated with me during our question-and-answer session was your need for baseballs. Therefore, I’d like to give you 30 practice baseballs for your team’s use during the remainder of this season. Hopefully these baseballs will be of help to you and your kids.”
Last week, as a follow-up to that first meeting, a group of those same coaches enjoyed the Nationals game against the Marlins.
“They’re teaching our young baseball players how to play the game and it’s hard for them to have support,” Williams said last week. “There’s very little funding. They work long hours. They have to find places to practice and they have to find baseballs, so I’m helping them do that. I just want to help them coach and help them teach.”
Williams, who made good on his promise and donated 30 practice baseballs to each team, welcomed the coaches onto the field during batting practice. He set each coach and an assistant up with tickets to the game, and offered each $20 in Nats Bucks to use within the ballpark that night.
“At times, coaching may feel like a thankless job,” Williams wrote. “However, as mentors to student-athletes, you have a sizable impact on these kids’ lives. I am incredibly grateful for the time and energy that you commit to the youth in our community.”
Thanks to all who have already joined the fun this month as we count down the final days until the 2014 season by giving away a prize a day to all Full, Half and Partial Season Plan Holders who renew or purchase new 2014 Season Plans this month.
If you’ve already renewed, you’re already entered. And as the days dwindle before the 2014 season kicks off, the prizes get even more fantastic.
To enter, just visit nationals.com/marchtobaseball. Don’t miss out!
Congratulations to our latest winners…
March 14: Billy Joel Concert Tickets and Parking — Cathy A. from Annandale, VA
March 15: View batting practice with Nationals hitting coach Rick Schu — Stu S. from McLean, Va.
March 16: Two Club Level tickets and $50 NatsBucks — John F. from Bethesda, Md.
March 17: Visit the MASN broadcast booth with Bob Carpenter and F.P Santangelo — Mike M. from Quantico, Va.
March 18: Have your catered birthday party at Nationals Park — James S. from Germantown, Md.
March 19: Deliver the Nationals’ lineup card to the umpires before a game — Cynthia C. from Herndon, Va.
March 20: Wave the GEICO flag during the Presidents Race — Rob S. from Washington, D.C.
March 21: Autographed Bryce Harper jersey — Kesh T. from McLean, Va.
March 22: Sit at a table at the annual Board of Trade Welcome Back luncheon — Kathleen S. from Fairfax, Va.
March 23: Announce “PLAY BALL!” before a game — Dave B. from Arlington, Va.
March 24: Two Gold Glove Club tickets and a parking pass — Dave S. from Vienna, Va.