Nationals Park is about to have its biggest moment since it opened in 2008, hosting the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday. Over the past decade, Washington Nationals fans and players have made plenty of memories in the stadium. Here are a few of our favorites. Some responses have been lightly edited for style, space and clarity.
The Opening Day of Nationals Park. It was a cold night, because Opening Day was actually in March [March 30, 2008]. I was a senior in high school and I skipped baseball practice to attend the game with my dad, kicking off the final season I would be in town before going to college in North Carolina. We really wanted to see the Nats win their first game at the new park, and the Atlanta Braves, especially Tim Hudson, dominated the Nationals during those years. Jon Rauch had a blown save in the ninth, and I realized we had the beginning of the order coming up. I leaned to my dad and told him, “[Ryan Zimmerman] is going to hit a walk-off homer.” He looked at me, acknowledging but not believing my prediction, and continued watching Peter Moylan warm up. The first two hitters go down, and Zimmerman hits a shot to center field, over the fence.
— Matt Lucas, 28, Alexandria
I’ve been sitting in the same seats since 2008. I come to about 70-75 games a year on average. Back in 2009, we were scuffling so much that I was one of the few — if not the only — fans in my section consistently. This prompted the beer vendor, Jojo Eggleston, to nickname me “The Mayor.” I have gone by “The Mayor of NatsTown” ever since. I have been doing a sort of “home run trot” after every home run since 2009. I run up and down the handicapped/wheelchair section on the first base line high-fiving anyone who will have me. There never was a more special “Tripp Trot” than when Jayson Werth hit his famed walk-off home run against the St. Louis Cardinals [in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Oct. 11, 2012].
— Tripp Whitbeck, 37, Arlington
Probably my favorite [memory] is being on deck for [Werth’s] walk-off homer in the playoffs. That’s a really cool moment. Big at-bat. Big at-bat for our team and of course for the city of D.C. [Thirteen]-pitch at-bat against Lance Lynn. And for him to put a ball into the bullpen to win that game was pretty incredible. . . . I was just fired up. I was excited for all of us. The whole dugout was going crazy. I was jumping up and down in the on-deck circle. Just incredible. Just a numb feeling of, “Wow, pretty incredible moment.”
— Bryce Harper, Nationals outfielder 2012-present
It was Sept. 25, 2011 — the last home game of the season. Ross Detwiler was pitching. The hecklers were especially loud that day. I don’t know why — maybe Det’s command wasn’t great. I suffered for a few innings, but to be honest they were ruining my day with their negativity. Finally I turned around and yelled. I told them that I was trying to enjoy the last game of the season. Then, in my raised voice, I uttered the words that immediately seemed ridiculous but also, to me, plausible: “If we’re going to get to the World Series, we’re going to need Ross Detwiler.”
A year later — Oct. 11, 2012 — I was in the same section when Detwiler pitched the game of his life, giving up only one unearned run over six innings to save the postseason. I couldn’t hear them heckling him that night. It was too loud.
— Ruth Miller, 44, Burke, Va., season ticket holder
Ian Desmond was one of a kind. Just a tremendous person to the fans, the likes of which you rarely see. I had encountered Ian many, many times in his years with the team, and it was always a very pleasant experience. In 2015, I was lucky enough to be selected by the team to give a “testimonial” on screen about my favorite memories of the first 10 years of the Nats. At the end of the year, they invited the fans selected to come onto the field to take a bow on the last day of the season. I was on the field with about 20 other people, waved to the crowd on the big board and headed off. At the point that I passed the dugout, Ian came up to the top step, looked at me and gave me a good bye/thank you “salute,” which of course I returned. (This was, of course, Ian’s last home game.) Only Ian Desmond would have been thoughtful enough to have taken that moment to say goodbye.
— Ray Mitten, 57, Arlington, season-ticket holder “since day one”
On Sept. 3, 2011, against the New York Mets, Nats starting pitcher Tommy Milone made his major league debut. On the first pitch of his first at-bat, he hit a home run. I think it went into the Nats bullpen (which went nuts) but I’m not sure, and I don’t remember exactly where I was sitting. What I do remember is that it was a beautiful, sky-blue day, not too hot or humid, and I felt like I had just witnessed one of those very rare perfect moments in life. Even though it wasn’t my life, that moment felt perfect.
— Jennifer Himes, 43, Arlington
What I will never forget is Stephen [Strasburg] walking in from the bullpen on his debut day with pitching coach Steve McCatty. We noticed that McCatty said something and Strasburg smiled. We learned later that in an effort to get him to relax, McCatty told Stras that all the cheering and chants for “Stephen” were actually for him. Such a sweet moment.
— Barbara Shepherd, 65, Vienna, Va.
My debut was pretty special. It seems like a long time ago. I think it was cool seeing [Juan] Soto’s first at-bat, too. . . . [And] when [Steven] Souza made that catch in Jordan [Zimmermann’s] no-hitter.
— Stephen Strasburg, Nationals pitcher 2010-present
Before [my father, John, who died last month from cancer] was diagnosed, we were able to go to the Max Scherzer no-hitter in 2015. He and his old guy buddies were planning on going and one bailed at the last minute, so I begrudgingly went despite wanting to hang with my friends. Our tickets were in the second level at the end of the balcony, good seats, but my father had recently recovered from breaking his ankle so just the two of us got to sit in the handicapped seating. I remember jumping up and hugging him, and him hugging me back in semi-shock because I almost knocked him over his crutch.
— Patrick Hughes, 24, Howard County, Md.
Our quick story: season-ticket holders for the three years at RFK and first year at Nationals Park. We left Opening Night at Nationals Park in the first inning — because my wife was in labor with our first child.
— Dennis Yedwab, 49, Washington