The uniforms will not be the traditional red and white when the Washington Nationals take their positions next Thursday, but rather black-and-white tuxedos and bow ties.
The site will not be Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, but rather the glitzy Mandarin Oriental hotel in Southwest Washington.
The stakes will not be a wild-card playoff spot, but rather something important for a different reason: a major fundraiser for the team's charity foundation.
"The whole team is scheduled to come. It's pretty mandatory, so they'll all be there," said Chartese Burnett , a team spokeswoman. "They've gotten fitted for tuxedos."
Team officials said the franchise has raised about $567,000 for the foundation -- $550,000 of which came from the April 3 exhibition game against the New York Mets at RFK Stadium. The rest of the money is revenue from fans paying $100 to have an announcement -- such as birthday wishes -- on the stadium's scoreboard.
The "First Annual Diamond Gala" is expected to draw about 500 people. Burnett said that 45 tables of 10 seats were sold for $10,000 each, mostly to corporations and season ticket holders. Some individual tickets also were purchased.
The event is essentially sold out, she said, although a few late requests might be accommodated.
The fundraiser will include a silent auction featuring autographed memorabilia from Frank Robinson, the team's manager; pitcher Chad Cordero; third baseman Vinny Castilla and catcher Brian Schneider. A live auction will be held, featuring a car, a puppy, diamond earrings, a baseball clinic, a trip to spring training and a golf outing with Robinson.
There will be a dance floor, with a Neil Diamond tribute band called Super Diamond performing.
When the Nationals came to the District, many D.C. leaders and civic activists called on the team to contribute to the community. The foundation is one way the team hopes to become involved in the city. This is common for professional sports teams, including the Redskins, Wizards, Mystics, Capitals and D.C. United.
Burnett said the Nationals are in the process of selecting an advisory board and a board of directors to administer the charity funds. A major goal will be helping to increase youth interest in baseball in poorer areas of the city, where Burnett said a lack of equipment and the poor condition of playing fields have hurt participation.
"You hear about the dwindling interest in youth baseball," she said. "One thing we want to do in the greater D.C. area is assist in field refurbishing."
The organization also might use some money to help launch educational efforts in the District school system or public libraries. The team has talked about plans to start a math program for elementary students but has delayed launching such an effort until a corporate sponsor is found, Burnett said.
The hired entertainment for the gala, Super Diamond, has been performing Neil Diamond tunes since 1993, according to the group's Web site. Burnett said the band was selected for its performing reputation, not because the Nationals' fan organization is called the Diamond Club.
"People on our staff had heard them," she said. "Apparently, if you close your eyes, you think you're hearing Neil Diamond. We figured that music is not too controversial. It's something everyone can like."