The Washington Nationals are officially, officially on the clock now. They will host the 2018 All-Star Game in less than a year, the first time in 49 years the District will host the midsummer classic.
Wednesday afternoon — in front of far more cameras than usually make their way down South Capitol Street at this time of year — Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and members of the Nationals organization gathered to unveil the All-Star Game logo for the game that will be played on July 17, 2018. The logo is red, white, and blue with the words All-Star Game sprawled across the white facade of the U.S. Capitol.
“The logo unveiling is the beginning of a 12-month march,” Manfred said. “Along with the Nationals and the Mayor, Major League Baseball is going to work very hard to make sure the 2018 All-Star Game here in Washington is a memorable event for everyone.”
Ted Lerner, Managing Principal Owner of the Nationals, and his family gathered along with Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo, 2017 All-Stars Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Max Scherzer, and Ryan Zimmerman and dozens of other members of the organization. Zimmerman sat at the podium with Bowser, Manfred, and Principal Owner Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, who represented the Lerner family.
“I want to thank Marla and the Lerner family, Mayor Bowser, and Commissioner Manfred for including me in the important table here,” said Zimmerman, who kicked off a series of player remarks that included Harper reiterating something he has said for years now.
“If I do have the opportunity to play in the All-Star Game this next year,” Harper said. “I will definitely do the Home Run Derby. It’s something that in 2015 when Frazier did it in Cincinnati, I was sitting there, the fans were going crazy, and he was able to do everything possible to win that for his town and his city.”
Scherzer spoke about the importance of the All-Star Game as an opportunity to measure one’s self against the best, a chance he relishes, if his constant muttering and grunting during his one inning this year was any indication. Murphy spoke about his experience being on the Mets in 2010 when the game was played at Citi Field, and how the entire organization — not just its all-stars — rallied around the experience.
Nationals Manager Dusty Baker was also present, though he is not under contract for next season, and spoke about how special it would be to have the All-Star Game in his hometown, given that he was not voted in when the game was at Dodger Stadium during his playing career.
Mayor Bowser said she sent a team of D.C. representatives down to Miami this year, much like the Nationals themselves did, to learn the All-Star Game ropes.
“I can promise you,” Bowser said. “We’re very competitive. We want to make sure we’re going to support a great several days of activities here, and you should all know, the fans should all know — we know how to do big events. I don’t have to tell you, we host all of the national special security events just about in the nation. We most recently welcomed the Pope. We put on the inauguration, had a million women, you name it.”
Lerner Tanenbaum, who runs the Nationals Youth Academy and oversees the Nationals Dream Foundation’s efforts, reiterated the importance of this game to her family, which pursued it from the time they bought the Nationals. Her father, 91-year-old Ted Lerner, sat a few feet from her and assisted with the logo unveiling. He attended the 1937 All-Star Game when it was played in the District. Principal Owner Mark Lerner was initially scheduled to appear on behalf of the family, but could not make it because he was “under the weather,” she said.
“I would love it if Mark was here, because he’s been anticipating this for so long, I don’t think anything would surprise him. He’s a scholar of everything All-Star Game,” Lerner Tanenbaum said. “But with my responsibilities with the, I was surprised to learn of all the money that would be coming to Washington, and the opportunity to create these Legacy projects — they’re real, and we’re working on them.”
Major League Baseball tries to leave some tangible impact behind in each All-Star host city. This summer, for example, Alex Rodriguez paid for three fields around a Miami-area Boys and Girls Club the league helped refurbish. The league left what Manfred said was a $5 million footprint in projects like those. Lerner Tanenbaum said the Nationals will present their project ideas to the league in September, and hinted that Harper will play a big role in one of them.
For now, most of the All-Star Game scurrying will be done behind the scenes. The most glaring reminder will linger in center field, just under the Budweiser sign on the left of the scoreboard, where the Nationals will unveil the official logo for fans Wednesday, then leave it until next July.
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