on May 23, 2012
The Washington Nationals upon their relocation to DC from Montreal played their first three seasons in RFK Memorial Stadium. RFK was the home ballpark of the Washington Senators from 1961 to 1971 before they relocated to Texas to become the Rangers. RFK has had a wide array of tenants, but today it’s only tenant is the DC United of the Major League Soccer League and it hosts the Military Bowl of the NCAA each year. My first Nationals game was at RFK, so when I found myself back in DC, I had to see the Nationals again in their new stadium, Nationals Park. Nationals Park is located in the southeast part of the city near the Anacostia Riverfront. The park is easily accessible from the Metro by taking the green line to the Navy Yard metro stop. The ballpark is one block away. Although there are parking lots around the stadium, it is not the best way to get to the ballpark due to the city’s congestion and parking costs. Upon entering the stadium, we were greeted by three bronze statues honoring the best ballplayers throughout the Nationals organization. The Washington Nationals have come and gone from the city twice. They began play as the Senators in 1900 and left in 1960 to become the Minnesota Twins. In 1961, the Washington Senators II began play until they left for Texas in 1971. Walter Johnson of the original Washington Senators played his entire career with the team from 1907-1927. Frank Howard was part of the Washington Senators II and was known as one of the most intimidating hitters in baseball. A statue of Josh Gibson was also erected although he never played for the Nationals. He played in the Negro Baseball League and has been regarded as the "Black Babe Ruth". To date, there have been no numbers retired through the Nationals organization. A baseball game would not be complete without concessions. The ballpark has a full service sit down restaurant, The Red Porch, located in the outfield. It has a fenced outdoor patio and outdoor deck to enjoy the game while you eat. Above the restaurant is the Red Loft Bar which features premium beers and top shelf liquor. On the Mezzanine Level, you will find the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk which features many different restaurants. Four of them were introduced in 2011. For BBQ fans, the Blue Shack offers sandwiches and ribs and the Shake Shack offers burgers and shakes. El Verano Taquería offers Mexican fare and Box Frites has a wide selection of fries and dipping sauces. Screech, the Nationals mascot can always be seen around the stadium. But it is the Presidents Race that takes center stage. During the middle of the 4th inning, mascots resembling George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt race around the field. After the race, they are available for pictures until the end of the 5th inning. The #1 pick of the 2010 MLB draft was Bryce Harper selected by the Nationals. During the game, Harper hit a home run at the age of 19, making him the youngest player to hit a home run since Andre Beltre in 1998.
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