When there’s no baseball actually being played on account of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has postponed the start of the season — and any semblance of normal life — indefinitely, there’s no need to wait for the seventh inning to belt the national pastime’s unofficial anthem.
Lying in bed one recent morning, Lasner, 77, was moved by several widely shared scenes of people in Italy, including opera singer Maurizio Marchini, giving impromptu concerts from their balconies above empty streets.
“It was really touching, almost brought the tears a few times, and I thought, ‘Well, why can’t we do that to celebrate what would have been the beginning of baseball season?’" Lasner said in a phone interview this week.
Lasner ran the idea by a few people in the 107-unit Chase Point condominium, and a message went out to the building’s owners’ association email list. Subject line: A Little Game Day Fun!!!
The initial plan was for residents on the Military Road side of the building to open their windows or step out onto their balconies wearing Nationals gear at the designated time, and for residents on the Western Avenue side of the building, who don’t have balconies, to congregate on the front lawn. Lasner encouraged anyone with a musical instrument to bring it, and for residents on the lawn to stand at least six feet apart from one another to maintain social distancing guidelines.
On Tuesday, Lasner received an email from the condo president. Under the stay-at-home order issued Monday by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), residents would no longer be permitted to gather in front of the building.
“I was expecting 40 or more people, including a bunch of the lawn,” Lasner said. “That’s a big disappointment, but it’s what we’re going through right now.”
Baseball and Italy are Lasner’s two passions. An original Nationals season ticket holder, he played in D.C.'s Ponce de Leon baseball league from when he was 43 until he was 65, and he has been to Italy more than a dozen times since he and his wife celebrated their 25th anniversary in 1996. After retiring as general counsel of Ginnie Mae after more than 30 years, Lasner became a professional photographer. He has donated more than 1,600 photos to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, including many from when he helped coach a 16-and-under baseball team in Florence for a few months in 2005.
There’s no telling when Lasner will be able to visit Italy, which has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus, or a ballpark again, but he and his wife have made the most of their time at home over the past month by home-schooling their grandchildren via video chat for about an hour each day.
Lasner had planned to attend Thursday’s home opener, which was to include the pregame unveiling of the Nationals’ World Series champions banner, with three friends. Instead, he’ll don a red and blue hoodie with a curly 'W' on the front and a white 1926 Senators cap with a blue 'W' on the front. His wife will be similarly decked out in Nats gear, and at 1:05 p.m., they’ll step out onto their balcony above the main entrance of the building and sing.
“We’ll karaoke,” Lasner said. “There are a couple of run-throughs on the recording, so we’ll be singing it twice. It should be nice."
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