“I never really hit home runs in high school or college or anywhere,” Zimmerman said after the Nationals’ 10-6 loss to the Rockies. “I’ve had a chance to meet him a couple of times and I obviously respect him a ton and what he did. He hit a ton more home runs, just not here. But it’s a really cool honor and I’m proud of it.”
Zimmerman has been with Nationals since they came to Washington in 2005, back when he was only 20 years old and the fourth-overall pick in the 2005 MLB draft. He played when the Nationals were at their worst, winning 59 games in 2008 and 2009. And when they were at their best, winning 98 in 2012, 96 in 2014 and 95 last season. And this year, a season in which Zimmerman was selected to his second-career All-Star Game, Washington could match or surpass those totals.
“Ryan Zimmerman — this guy is something very special. I’ve met him three or four times, and you don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know this guy is the ultimate professional, the pro’s pro,” Howard said in a statement released by the team.
Zimmerman is not just the Washington leader in home runs; he also holds the franchise mark, which includes statistics tallied for the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 2004. That puts him ahead of Vladimir Guerrero (234) and Hall of Famers Andre Dawson (225) and Gary Carter (220). Zimmerman is also one RBI away (904) from passing former third baseman Tim Wallach for the franchise lead in RBI (905).
“If he continues putting these kind of numbers up for another six, eight, 10 years, this young man is going to walk into Cooperstown, New York, and into Baseball’s Hall of Fame,” Howard said. “You want to know how I feel about it? Nobody is happier for him than me.”
After the home run, the crowd erupted, pleading for a curtain call from Zimmerman. After a few moments, he emerged from the dugout, and waved to the fans.