Chronological Tour: Stop 332

Baseball in D.C.!

Home plate entrance to Nationals Park, Mar-2008.

A look in at the field, including the boxes behind home plate, from left field.

George Washington and Saint Joseph’s play the first game ever in the park.

Quick Facts: Rating: 4 baseballs
At 1:17 in the afternoon of March 22, 2008, Charlie Kruer of The George Washington University baseball team became the answer to a trivia question.

Standing in against Saint Joseph’s University junior Jason Hessler, the senior outfielder from New Jersey hit a ground ball to third base. Mike Boyland picked it up and fired to first, but too late to get Kruer, who became the first player to record a hit at the new Nationals Park. Two batters later, Kruer became the first player ever to score a run at the new park in the Capitol Riverfront district, when Andrew Abokhair singled up the middle.

The facility wasn’t going to host its usual home team for another week, when the Nationals would return from spring training to play an exhibition game and their regular-season opener over the next weekend. But Nationals management arranged in early March to have the Colonials shift one game of their season-opening Atlantic-10 Conference series against the Hawks from their usual park in Alexandria to the new park, giving the Nats a chance to take their new home for a shakedown cruise.

In keeping with the latest trend in building new ballparks, Nationals Park is small. It holds nearly 15,000 fewer fans than Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, which was the home of pro baseball in the District from 1962-71 and 2005-07. Of course, it has its fair share of luxury boxes and other premium amenities, but it also has a decent number of affordable upper-deck seats.

Another recent trend that Nationals Park follows is restricting access to seating areas behind the plate. These are reserved for premium ticket holders, with boxes immediately behind, which means there is no view directly behind the plate from the main concourse. There are, however, limited upper-deck seats directly behind the plate.

The upper deck is also broken up halfway down the first-base line, meaning one cannot walk clear around the length of the upper deck. This is also a feature of the recent parks in Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

One nice touch is the presence of several cherry blossom trees on the concourse in left field, mimicking the displays in the parks near the Potomac River. Another is the large LED scoreboard in right center field, along with LED ribbon boards along the rim of the second deck.

When I attended the college game in March, the team totals on the main board were highlighted as red digits on white in the game score on the main board, as opposed to the rest of the line score (white digits on black). This actually proved a little confusing; by June, they had switched the main score numbers to yellow on black. Also, in the dry run of the college game, there was no auxiliary score display, so fans walking the concourse in right field had no view of game data. By June, these boards were fully operational, showing either the batter’s previous plate appearances or season statistics, including on-base and slugging percentages.

One drawback is that there are limited escalators to the upper deck, and the ramps between the decks are exceedingly long. Also, there is very little parking in the vicinity of the park. Fans are encouraged to take Metro Rail to the park, which is a block from the Navy Yard station on the Green Line.

Game # Date League Level Result
47 Sat 22-Mar-2008 Atlantic 10 Div I GEORGE WASHINGTON 9, Saint Joseph’s 4
924 Sun 22-Jun-2008 National * MLB Texas 5, WASHINGTON 3
980 Sat 20-Sep-2008 National MLB San Diego 6, WASHINGTON 1
981 Sun 21-Sep-2008 National MLB San Diego 6, WASHINGTON 2
1120 Mon 30-May-2011 National MLB Philadelphia 5, WASHINGTON 4
1189 Wed 4-Jul-2012 National MLB WASHINGTON 9, San Francisco 4
1219 Sun 19-Aug-2012 National MLB WASHINGTON 5, NY Mets 2
1309 Mon 26-May-2014 National MLB Miami 3, WASHINGTON 2
1413 Sun 23-Aug-2015 National MLB WASHINGTON 9, Milwaukee 5
1456 Sun 29-May-2016 National MLB WASHINGTON 10, St Louis 2
1559 Tue 4-Jul-2017 National MLB WASHINGTON 11, NY Mets 4
* Interleague play.
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This page updated 5-Jul-2017