A day after the Nationals won it all, we asked readers two questions: What the World Series victory meant to them and how the championship compares to other sports highlights they have experienced in their lives. In less than 24 hours, we received hundreds of responses.

We heard from fans whose families have been supporting the team for generations across multiple franchises that have since departed, along with people who only recently moved to Washington, but readily hopped on an emotional roller coaster that promised more nausea than elation. There were fans who moved away from D.C. years ago and celebrated the team’s success from many states away. For many of those fans, following the Nats wasn’t just about baseball, but strengthening their connections to their former city, to friends that are no longer neighbors and to ensure memories formed decades ago remain vivid.

So many of you described the bittersweet feeling that comes with celebrating for someone rather than with them — the many fans who inherited their love of Washington baseball from parents and grandparents who are no longer here to relish the moment.

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Thank you for sharing your stories. Some of the responses have been edited for length and clarity.

‘The Nationals are what made us Washingtonians.’

“This victory means that yes, Washington is indeed a baseball town, and we love our Nats.”

  • Chris Tharrington, 59, Bethesda, Md.

“I haven’t stopped smiling since midnight on Wednesday. I had an early midterm I hadn’t studied enough for, and my roommates were asleep, but all the same I danced around in my pajamas and tried to keep my sobbing as quiet as possible. The Nationals are my home team, even as part of a family of New England transplants. The Nationals are what made us Washingtonians. My family bonded with our community over triumphs and tribulations, memes and merch. We rode waves of heartbreak and hope together.”

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  • Mae Gilligan, 19, Silver Spring, Md.

“As we have grown our family, this team has felt like family. The way the players put family first, the way they’ve fought for one another, the way they truly enjoy each other and the game has been an inspiration. This ending feels both impossible and inevitable. This ending feels like coming home.”

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  • Jennifer Roberts, 37, Fairfax, Va.

‘I don’t follow baseball. I follow the Nationals.’

“My biggest happiness for this World Series is for Ryan Zimmerman. I didn’t start tearing up until I saw him with the trophy.”

  • Rachel Gibson, 51, Washington, D.C.

“What made this season so special is that it encapsulated the team’s tenure in DC: Great excitement at first, followed by mediocrity and then an absolute nadir, but then glimmers of hope, winning streaks, and the accumulating evidence that this team was for real. I don’t expect to ever see another team or season like this in my life. It’s been a wonderful, unforgettable ride.”

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  • David Hodges, 35, Washington, D.C.

“I remember watching Stephen Strasburg’s debut and I remember his devastating injury. I remember buying tickets to Game 5 in 2012 just minutes after Jayson Werth’s Game 4 walk-off, and I remember leaving Nationals Park in tears after Drew Storen’s blown save. I stayed for all eighteen innings of Game 2 in 2014. After the first four playoff losses, I started to wonder why I still held on to hope that someday we’d win one. And, when I walked into the stadium on May 24 to see Kyle McGowin start against the Marlins for a 19-31 Nats team, I had no expectations for a lost season. But the last five months have been nothing short of pure magic. I can’t even begin to explain what this means to me. It’s all so sudden that I don’t think I’ve even begun to process it yet. But I know I’ll remember this season for the rest of my life, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.”

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  • Tillman Lanyi, 17, Washington, D.C.

“In 2005, when the Nationals came to town, I went to the exhibition game at RFK, and after that game bought my wife her engagement ring. We won tickets to Opening Day in 2005 as the only fools who knew who Brad Wilkerson was, and sat in the nosebleeds in pure joy. This season’s rallying cry of “Stay in the Fight” and “Go 1-0 Everyday” means so much more than winning games. This team became a way for us to live our lives, to support each other, to dance in the dugout, and to remember, ‘Bumpy Roads Lead to Beautiful Places.’ ”

  • Jeffrey E. Bergin, 39, Syracuse, N.Y.

“Nothing else compares. They are my team- I don’t follow baseball. I follow the Nationals.”

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  • Rachel Spires, 26, Nashville

‘Finally.’

“I was born and raised in the DMV, and was a Senators fan as a boy, until they left town when I was about eight — they broke my heart. I’ve lived elsewhere all my adult life, but have followed the Nationals very closely ever since day one in 2005.”

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  • Greg Parson, 60, Salt Lake City

“There is magic in the world.”

  • Mark, 75, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“I attended games at Griffith stadium. At DC stadium (later RFK) and of course off at the new park. This is like an alternative universe. It doesn’t happen to Washington, D.C. fans. There will always be a bit more bounce in my step knowing that the Nats are the World Champions.”

  • Jarius Cooper, 65, Fairfax, Va.

“My dad took us to DC Stadium to watch the Senators and Hondo, Frank Howard, whose upper-deck blasts were marked by seats painted white.

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Then we endured 33 years of no baseball, slowly turning our allegiance north, traveling occasionally to old Memorial Stadium to watch the Orioles, who had some great stretches including a championship in ’83, but were never our home team.

Finally the MLB owners gave us another team, a shell of a franchise. After a half-decade of horrendous seasons, we started winning — and having our hearts broken: a six-run 1st in Game 5 we couldn’t make stand up against the Cardinals; Zimmerman’s shutout into the 9th that became a loss in 18 against the Giants; more Game 5 losses to the Cubs and Dodgers. Finally. I’ve been waiting 54 years.”

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  • Bennett Minton, 61, Portland, Ore.

‘Granddad’s lifetime wish finally came true.’

“My granddad was so excited when the Nationals came to DC and watched every game. Even in the off season — he re-watched highlights and classics. He passed away this spring after being a lifetime Senators, then Orioles, and finally Nats fan. While he was in hospice, he said ‘Well, at least the Nats won the World Series’ — he called it months in advance. Watching that final inning our whole extended family was texting each other, excited that Granddad’s lifetime wish finally came true.”

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  • Emily Nichols, 34, Fairfax, Va.

“My father held me while I cried when the Senators moved. I’ve waited 46 years to see this and want to thank the Lerners, Mike Rizzo, Davey Martinez and the whole team for bringing the town so much joy.”

  • Joel, 56, Catonsville, Md.

“At this point, I can’t separate summer, DC, and the Nats. The Nats is my link to my grandpa, who I never really knew. The Nats are a link to my city, which feels so fragmented sometimes. The Nats is my link to people in my community that I might not have much else in common with.

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At times, stepping into Nationals Park can have a religious feeling, even for just a midsummer, midweek game. I feel I can breath easier there, not having to explain myself, but rather being surrounded by people that just know me even if we’ve never met.”

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  • Mike Rosenberg, 28, Washington, D.C.

“In 2005, I couldn’t have cared less about the new baseball team in Washington. My dad, a baseball fan, insisted we go to one of the first games, declaring for a week ahead of time that he was going to catch a foul ball. A sullen teenager, I rolled my eyes and went for the food. But during one of the innings, something magical happened — a foul ball was hit right at us. I immediately ducked. And when I looked up, my dad was holding the foul ball, grinning from ear to ear.

‘I told you we’d catch a foul ball.’

From that moment on, my Dad and I were all in. Over the last 14 years, we’ve been to countless games, from RFK to the current stadium (always cheering for our favorite player, Ryan Zimmerman). I grew up, but the Nationals have always been there for my dad and I to share.”

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  • Jeannette, 34, Washington, D.C.

“My daughters grew up with me always talking about the time we had a baseball team. They would say, sure Dad. Then the Nats came and we were happy. Then they got good and we got happier, except when they broke out hearts. And today, today is the best of all because they won their way, the hard way, the Nats way.”

  • Art Brodsky, 66, Olney, Md.

“I became a Nats fan just last year in 2018. My 79 year-old dad was really sick in the hospital and I would come visit and watch the games with him and my brother in his hospital room. Baseball was all we had to talk about sometimes because he was in a lot of pain and other topics weren’t as easy as the Nats. I became a fan so that I could stay connected to him. I flew back home to the West Coast in July 2018 because I had to return to work. His condition worsened and the last time I talked to him on the phone was on July 31 2018. His last words to me were ‘Ann, they’re up by 20 points.’ It was the high scoring game against the Mets I think. This year he is gone but he would’ve loved to have seen them win the World Series.”

  • Ann Petersen, 41, Bend, Ore.

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