I noted on Tuesday that the Nats would be wearing hats with military insignias during batting practice to start their homestand, the first after the deadly helicopter attack in Afghanistan earlier this month.
What I didn’t realize, though, was that the Nats had hoped to wear those hats for the entire game, had asked Major League Baseball for permission to do so, and that at least some members of the organization thought this would happen as late as Monday afternoon.
This came out when MASN’s broadcast team of Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo discussed the hat tribute and other gestures toward the military the Nats made on Tuesday.
“There should not be one day that goes by that we don’t think about those that are over there defending our freedom and those who’ve lost their lives in doing so,” Carpenter said.
“Absolutely, well said, these people have made a positive difference in our world period,” Santangelo agreed. “They’ve make incredible sacrifices for the good of our nation and our world....I think it’s great that the Nationals are doing this tonight. It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t’ wear the hats during the game. They tried, and Major League Baseball said no, but they wore ‘em during batting practice today. We’ll be wearing them throughout the broadcast tonight, you and I have our armed forces hats on. And it’s just a special tribute to these guys, and we’d just like to thank them for all they do.”
This seemed interesting, so I called the Nats to ask what happened. A spokeswoman sent me this statement:
“As a team that is dedicated to supporting our military service men and women, we requested permission from Major League Baseball to wear hats representing all of the military branches during batting practice and throughout the game. We realize this was an extraordinary request and were pleased when permission was granted to use the hats during batting practice. The players were honored to wear the hats and in doing so were able to demonstrate the team’s solidarity with our military community.”
So then I called an MLB spokesman to ask what happened, and he explained that the league prefers its clubs commemorate specific causes with uniform patches or batting-practice displays, rather than the actual game hats. There are, however, coordinated league-wide headwear events, such as the white hats with stars-and-stripes logos that are worn on Memorial Day and July 4, with proceeds from sales of those caps donated to the Welcome Back Veterans program.
“We reserve hats for national tributes, where every club is wearing them on the same day,” spokesman Pat Courtney told me. “But we’re happy to work with clubs on alternatives.”