Results tagged ‘ Nationals Park ’

Photos: Opening Day at Nationals Park

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A Thank You and a Look Ahead

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by Noah Frank

As we begin what promises to be an exciting year, we wanted to take a quick moment to thank you for your continued support of the Nationals, and particularly our writing here at Curly W Live. Thanks to your readership, we rose to No. 8 in the 2013 Top 100 MLBlogs rankings. We try our best both during the season and the offseason to bring you stories and information that we think you’ll appreciate as fans. In that spirit, here are eight of your favorite posts from the past year, which you can reread for fun or check out for the first time if you missed them when they were originally posted:

1.25: Taft Makes Five

2.14: This One’s for the Birds

2.16: Hair Today…

4.14: Guess Your Players’ Pups

8.03: To the Last Man

9.18: Improbabilities and Impossibilities

10.16: Harper Turns 21

12.10: Adam LaRoche and the 2013 USO Holiday Tour

We’re always looking for new and better ways help you connect with the team, so please leave your suggestions in the comments below, and let’s have an even greater 2014!

16 days until NatsFest

35 days until pitchers and catchers report

85 days until the home opener at Nationals Park

Bolstering Baseball Beginnings

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by Noah Frank

While the headline news of the day may have been the announcement that Adam LaRoche would join Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey to take part in his upcoming USO Tour (more on that later), there was another event happening at Nationals Park on Friday. New Nationals Manager Matt Williams met with a couple dozen youth baseball coaches and administrators from Washington, D.C. to discuss the future of the game in our nation’s capital.

Ray asks a question as Williams and local youth baseball coaches look on.

Ray (left) asks a question as Williams (back right) and local youth baseball coaches look on.

Over lunch at the Red Porch, Williams fielded honest questions and concerns and interacted with the group for the first time. He listened to stories of the youth baseball landscape in D.C. and the challenges that face those charged with coaching and mentoring our local youth. And while the group was never going to solve every issue in a single lunch, the event offered an opening up of dialogue with the most publicly visible coach in The District.

“I think it’s awesome for the baseball community and for the D.C. community to have the Nationals extend their hand,” said Clark Ray, Executive Director of the District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA). “I know these guys are just ecstatic about having the opportunity here today.”

The dream of revitalizing baseball among D.C. youth is a project that will take years to become a reality. The official opening of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in January will help further that process, but initial conversations like the one on Friday help set the tone for accomplishing those long-range goals. They also provide a little inspiration for the coaches working hard every day to spread the dedication for the game they love to the next generation.

“Just that reverberating through the community will help elevate baseball in the city moving forward,” said Ray of the event, and how it can help the coaches involved. “I think it gives them a little more moxie. I bet you some of these coaches will speak with a little more passion after today. It’s great for baseball.”

Wrapping Up Our #NatsWeekOfThanks

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We hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend with your families as we all gave thanks for the meaningful people in our lives. Many of you also offered terrific submissions in our Week of Thanks contest, and after careful consideration, we have picked our winning entry:

“I am thankful to be part of a large, loving family. My parents recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. My husband & I have been married for 37 years. I have 5 younger siblings & numerous nieces & nephews. We are spread across this beautiful country that is protected by our wonderful military, but one thing we all have in common is baseball. We may cheer for different teams, but the game itself is magic! When you walk through the gate at a baseball stadium, all your worries stay outside. A feeling of euphoria envelopes you & you’re free from troubles. Baseball can put a smile on your face and a song in your heart regardless of what’s going on in you[r] life. I am so thankful for that!”

-       Joy Bolick

Congratulations to Joy and her family, who have won the opportunity to take their holiday photo here at Nationals Park! Thanks to everyone else who took part in the contest for sharing your kind words and helping spread the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Week of Thanks

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As we prepare to gather with friends and family next week to celebrate Thanksgiving, this time of year provides a natural forum for personal reflection. We here at the Washington Nationals have been doing just that recently – thinking of all we have to be thankful for this holiday season – as we continue the countdown to Opening Day 2014.

Over the course of the next week, we plan to share some of the reasons we are thankful, with stories about the people and organizations that have made a truly meaningful impact in our community.

And, in the spirit of the season, we’re asking you to do the same.

Tell us what you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving and be entered to win a chance to take your family’s holiday photo on the field at Nationals Park!

All you have to do is let us know who or what you’re thankful for, and why, in the comment section below. Please keep your entry under 150 words, and be sure to check back to see what your fellow Nationals fans are thankful for this year.

- OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES -

What we’re thankful for this year:

USO Metropolitan Washington

Children’s National Medical Center

DC Public Schools

Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team

Food and Friends

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)

Kyle’s Kamp

Fans

An Offseason Field Trip

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by Noah Frank

There may not have been any games played at Nationals Park last weekend, but the field was still put to good use. The Washington Nationals and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) partnered to host the first Field Maintenance Clinic at Nationals Park as part of the Field Maintenance Education Program, a joint initiative between BTF and Major League Baseball.

Nationals Head Groundskeeper John Turnour and Assistant Head Groundskeeper Mike Hrivnak hosted 25 local coaches from more than 20 youth organizations on Saturday morning.

The two-hour clinic featured instruction on everything from maintaining the lip of the grass to prevent bad hops to keys to ensuring a safe, playable mound and the do’s and don’ts of clearing water off a wet infield. Turnour and Hrivnak were able to take the work they do on a Major League field and translate it into tips that youth leagues can use, even though they don’t have the same resources available. One such piece of advice was that it’s better to use towels to remove standing water on a field rather than sweeping it off with a broom.

In conjunction with the clinic, the Nationals and BTF selected Banneker City Little League to receive a $10,000 grant. The newly formed league will use the money for the upkeep and renovation of the upper field at Banneker Community Center. Check out photos from the clinic in the slideshow below.

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Harper Turns 21

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As you’ve no doubt already heard, Bryce Harper turned 21 today. It’s worth taking a moment to realize just what that means, and to appreciate just how much he has already accomplished.

With that in mind, here are 21 of our favorite things about the Nationals All-Star outfielder, in an only somewhat particular order. Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments below:

21. The number of outfield assists Harper has amassed in his first two seasons, collecting 13 in just 115 games this year (more on that later).

20. At 20, on his first Major League Opening Day, Harper’s first swing of the season crushed a breaking ball from Ricky Nolasco into the seats for Washington’s first run. In his very next at-bat, he did it again, beginning his season with not just one bang, but a pair of them.

19. Harper provided a moment nearly as dramatic exactly three months later when he stepped back onto the field at Nationals Park, after a stint on the disabled list, and found the seats yet again. A standing ovation greeted him as he dug into the box, and he blasted an opposite-field home run, leading Washington to a 10-5 victory.

18. It was another 24 days until Harper’s next homer, but he didn’t lose his flair for the moment over that span. After Washington coughed up a ninth-inning lead against the Pirates, Harper blasted a two-run, walk-off shot into the Red Porch seats — the first walk-off home run of his career.

17. Of course, Harper can also win games with his glove. He gave up his body in the ninth inning of a one-run game in Kansas City, making one of his most spectacular catches to date.

16. In partnership with the Nationals and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Harper’s Heroes was a season-long program that treats families affected by childhood cancers to a fun-filled day at Nationals Park. The VIP experience, held on six separate occasions in 2013, included a private meet and greet with Harper as well as a special batting practice viewing, T-shirts and tickets to the game, complete with NatsBucks.

15. It’s probably time to stop running on Harper.

14. For running until they tag him.

13. The 2013 season marked Bryce’s second All-Star appearance in as many campaigns. We get the sense he’ll have a few more before he’s done playing.

12. That’s Harper’s total number of triples through two seasons, which allow us to appreciate his self-helmet removal device.

11. That’s exactly how many games back of the Braves the Nationals found themselves after a pair of tough losses in Detroit, when Harper decided to be more vocal. That led him to go out and make T-shirts for the club, which recorded the best record in the Major Leagues (34-20) the rest of the season.

10. C’mon. Stop running on Bryce.

9. That’s how many more seasons of Major League experience Jayson Werth has than Harper, whom Werth has taken under his wing. Watching their big brother-little brother relationship grow has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the past two seasons.

8. The setup to “the steal.” After Harper was plunked by Cole Hamels with nobody on and two out the first time he’d ever faced Hamels, Harper stood at first as Werth dropped a single into left field. Recognizing that outfielder Juan Pierre was fielding the ball, Harper knew he could be aggressive on the bases, as he scorched around second and into third base. All of which led to…

7. “The steal.” With the lefty Hamels paying more attention to Werth, Harper timed him on a pickoff throw to first. When Hamels lobbed another ball over, Harper took off, sprinting home and sliding in ahead of Carlos Ruiz’s tag for a steal of home. He joined a list that includes Hall of Famer Cal Ripken as players who made their first stolen base as a major leaguer one of home plate. And he did it all in front of a national television audience on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

6. Harper’s relationship with 13-year-old Gavin Rupp. Harper and Rupp bonded before a home game this season, when Harper went above and beyond the call of duty to not just spend time with Rupp, but to really get to know him as a human being. As part of the SU2C (Stand Up to Cancer) campaign during the All-Star Home Run Derby, Harper held up a card reading “I Stand Up for Gavin Rupp” for the world to see. Harper is among many in the Nationals family who continue to mourn Rupp’s all-too-early passing later that month.

5. Harper is one of just five players with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases prior to his 21st birthday. The complete list:

Bryce Harper 42 HR, 29 SB
Ken Griffey, Jr. 38 HR, 32 SB
Mike Trout 24 HR, 40 SB
Andruw Jones 26 HR, 25 SB
Adrian Beltre 22 HR, 21 SB

4. Seriously. Don’t run on Bryce.

3. That is the total number of Major League players in history with more than 40 home runs at age 20 or younger. Harper’s 42 career long balls prior to age 21 trail just Mel Ott (61) and Tony Conigliaro (56) on the all-time list.

2. Although he didn’t win the competition, Harper advanced all the way to the finals of the 2013 Home Run Derby. He put on a show and gave eventual champion Yoenis Cespedes a good run for his money in what is hopefully just his first of many appearances in the annual event.

So, what’s number one?

1. That’s a clown question, bro.

Thank You for Your Service

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Putting on an event for as many as 40,000 people, feeding them, entertaining them, addressing their concerns and catering to their needs, is a tall task that requires many moving parts working together, in concert. Putting on 81 of such events, in strings of as many as 10 or 11 in a row, sometimes twice in the same day, is a monumental task. It requires far more helping hands than the front office staff alone can offer.

That’s where our TEAM Service members come in. A staff of 1,750 workers, local Washingtonians, Virginians and Marylanders staff the ballpark and provide everything they can to ensure your fan experience is the best possible. This year, we asked fans to nominate and vote for the best of the best, who were rewarded on the field prior to the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader on the final day of the regular season. Then, this past weekend, they enjoyed a trip to St. Louis to take in Game 1 of the NLCS between the Cardinals and Dodgers. The contest turned out to be a classic postseason ballgame, with the home side winning, 3-2, in 13 innings.

Selckman (back left), Lavigne (back center-right) and Howard (back center) were just three of the TEAM Service members on the trip.

Selckman (back left), Lavigne (back center-right) and Howard (back center) were just three of the TEAM Service members on the trip.

Karen Selckman, a bartender out at the Red Porch, was one of this year’s winners. She’s been pouring from the center field restaurant since the ballpark opened back in 2008 and has formed a group of regulars. But she was blown away to learn that she had received the honor.

“It’s completely overwhelming,” she said. “It’s flattering and I’m shocked.”

For employees like Selckman, customers with smiling faces is reward enough. This is just icing on the cake.

“What else can you ask for, you know?” she said. “If people are happy, we’re happy. It’s personal, so when you know that people are happy, it’s very fulfilling.”

Mike Lavigne has been a Guest Experience Usher, and has also worked at Nationals Park since it opened six seasons ago. He enjoys not just the company of the fans, but all his fellow coworkers, and was pleasantly surprised to be singled out among them for this honor.

“We’ve got so many good folks, how did I sneak through?” he joked upon learning of the award.

In his six years, Lavigne has seen the growth of both the team on the field and the fan base as it comes to accept the Nationals as its own team. That continued growth and connection keeps him coming back every year with more passion than the last.

“Just look at it,” he explained. “The fan base, when we were first starting out, there was a lot of excitement … I think Washington has been starving for baseball for a long time.”

The view from the seats at Busch Stadium.

The view from the seats at Busch Stadium.

Lavigne’s favorite part of the job is simply the human element, the ability to interact with fellow baseball fans as they escape their daily routine at the ballpark.

“I get to watch a little bit of baseball, I get to interact with folks that I don’t get to do in the regular job. It’s just a big win. Frankly, folks want to be here. This is different than other sports.”

“Big” Al Howard is a CSC Event Staff member, one of many in charge of managing crowd control in The District’s largest sporting venue. That can be a thankless position sometimes, especially when events outside of his control cause friction among the fans. But he takes it all in stride as part of the position.

“Customer service is exactly what it says: customer service,” Howard explained. “Sometimes you have to bend over backwards. Sometimes you have to take the mud in the face. But at the same time, you try to make that experience enjoyable and at least try to accommodate whatever their questions are.”

So what is Howard’s greatest reward in the three years he has worked at Nationals Park?

“People remembering your name. People remembering you for what you’ve done. Somebody saying ‘Thank you,’ or coming back to you, or asking for you or a compliment via someone else about you.”

Consider this a big thank you from all of us at the Nationals for another great season. See you all in 2014.

Patriotic Jersey Auction to Benefit Victims of the Navy Yard Shooting

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When a senseless tragedy occurs, it can be hard to return to a routine; the same can be said for professional athletes, even those playing baseball in the heat of a last-minute postseason chase.

Stephen Straburg and other Nationals players and coaches wore Navy hats in support of those affected by Monday's tragedy.

Stephen Straburg and other Nationals players and coaches wore Navy hats in support of those affected by Monday’s tragedy.

As the Nationals returned to the field on Tuesday, the team made clear that their thoughts were on those affected by the previous day’s events at the Washington Navy Yard. Reminders of the tragedy that occurred only blocks from Nationals Park could be seen throughout the day, from the flags flying at half-staff to the moment of silence before each game of the day’s doubleheader. On the field, the players donned U.S. Navy caps during batting practice and wore their patriotic jerseys featuring the stars and stripes Curly “W” during their win in game one of the doubleheader. But these were more than symbolic gestures – they will directly benefit those affected by the tragedy at the Navy Yard.

The Nationals will auction off the patriotic jerseys from game one, with proceeds benefiting the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS has a memorandum of agreement in place with the U.S. Navy to provide bereavement support to the families of those who die in service to America. Just as they did after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, TAPS will provide support and care for the families of Department of Defense civilian workers or defense contractors who died in this terrible tragedy. All of them were on duty for America.

Fans can go to nationals.com/auction to purchase the patriotic jerseys beginning Thursday, September 19. In the meantime, fans who would like to support the loved ones of those who lost their lives at the Washington Navy Yard can donate to TAPS at www.taps.org. A $10 donation can also be made by texting TAPS to 50555 (you will be asked to confirm your donation).

Details on Today’s Doubleheader

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Due to the tragic events yesterday at the Navy Yard, last night’s game was postponed and will be made up as part of a split doubleheader, with the make-up game beginning at 1:05 p.m. today.

The Nationals will wear their Patriotic Blue jerseys for the first game of today’s doubleheader. We will hold a moment of silence to remember the victims of yesterday’s tragedy prior to the start of both games. Additionally, in accordance with the directive of the President of the United States, flags at Nationals Park will fly at half-staff beginning today through sunset on Friday.

Ticketing:

Today’s games will be played as a split doubleheader, with each game requiring separate admission. Gates will open for Game Two 1.5 hours after the conclusion of Game One or at 6:00 p.m., whichever comes later.

If you had a ticket to Monday night’s postponed game, you may redeem it for today’s 1:05 p.m. game, any other remaining 2013 regular season home game, OR any 2014 regular season Value Game.

For any additional ticket information, please call the Nationals Park Box Office at 202.675.NATS(6287).

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