After Ryan Zimmerman’s 10th inning home run toppled the Yankees Tuesday night, it was once again “Mr. Walk-Off” season.
MASN used it the nickname.
The Nats used it.
MLB used it.
Hardball Talk used it.
Svrluga used it.
And the phrase showed up in countless recaps of Washington’s win. So, where did that “Mr. Walk-Off” name originate? I believe its first use in conjunction with Zimmerman came from blogger William F. Yurasko, who used the phrase shortly after Zimmerman walked-off the Braves in the 2008 Nationals Park opener.
“Ryan Zimmerman sent a telegram to the baseball world this evening: ‘I am Mr. Walkoff,’ ” Yurasko wrote, under a “Ryan Zimmerman is Mr. Walkoff” headline.
That was just Zimmerman’s fourth MLB walkoff, but it was enough for Yurasko, whose father had gotten him two tickets to the opener.
“I was sitting up in the mezzanine, and I was like ‘Oh my God, Ryan Zimmerman is Mr. Walk-Off,” Yurasko said on Wednesday. “I was screaming it, ‘Ryan Zimmerman is Mr. Walk-Off, Ryan Zimmerman is Mr. Walk-Off!’ It just one of those euphoric, act-crazy sort of things.”
He wasn’t trying to coin a nickname, just like the local basketball bloggers didn’t have grand hopes for their ‘Agent Zero’ moniker; he was just reacting to the moment. But as Zimmerman kept hitting walk-offs, the name caught on. The Mottram brothers sold Mr. Walkoff T-shirts on their Mister Irrelevant site, attributing the nickname to Yurasko. Two years later, the Nats passed out their own Mr. Walkoff T-shirts. By 2013, the Mr. Walkoff nickname had made it to the front of the Nats in-game programs.
Yurasko, a 38-year-old Web content manager from Alexandria, once pointed out his role to the Nats, both in a post and in an e-mail, but never heard back. He started his blog in 2004, but he doesn’t update it much anymore, instead focusing on his two young sons, the older of whom is already a fanatical Nats fan. And he isn’t even sure that “Mr. Walk-Off” is his most lasting contribution to the sports world; he once designed a potential Wizards logo, which a (confused?) fan eventually got tattooed on his arm.
Still, with Zimmerman’s 10 walk-offs now tied for third in National League history, the name likely isn’t going anywhere, with every walk-off drawing a tiny bit of attention to the man who coined the nickname.
“I like to think that I came up with it and helped popularize it,” Yurasko said. “And I’m glad he keeps doing it. I mean, if there was one guy you would pick from the Nationals to do that, for me, it’d be Zimmerman. He’s been here since time immemorial, he’s been through everything, he suffered through those awful seasons when he was the only thing going for them. So to see him doing it, as a Washington fan, that’s great.”