Baseball returned to D.C. with the expected pomp and fanfare after such a long absence. After 35 years, the national pastime is again part of the landscape in the nation’s capital as the city seems innundated with red baseball hats bearing the cursive “W”. President George W. Bush fittingly threw out the cerimonial first pitch and 45,000 gathered for the opening night of festivities last Thursday. To add to the excitement, a series sweep then ensued and the Nationals now sit atop the National League East division.
Like many, Howard University student Derek Dickinson has planned to watch at least one game this season. “I’m not a big baseball fan, but it is defintely something exciting and different to do,” explained the civil engineering student. “I go and watch D.C. United occasionally because I am a soccer fan, but I think I should get out to some (baseball) games this year.”
If opening night is anything to go by, the former Montreal Expos should have no trouble attracting fans in the D.C. area. The club, which is owned by Major League Baseball, already sold over two million tickets before opening day – a sure sign of the city’s support and desire for a major league team.
According to the Associated Press, the team has also attracted 116, 002 fans in the first three home games of its inagural season. That total is more than one-seventh of what the Expos totaled for all 81 home games played in Montreal and Puerto Rico last season. The Nationals are well on their way to solidifying a home fan base.
In addition, the team has not disappointed as opening night saw Livan Hernandez pitch a near flawless game in a 5-3 victory. The Nats then went on to sweep the Diamondbacks and have, thus far, proven to be exciting to watch. What’s more is that the team is currently enjoying a six-game win streak in one of baseball’s toughest divisions.
“Its easier when you have a winning team on the field,” assured Howard student Israel Lyons. “I’m sure as the season goes on, more and more students in the area will get involved.”
Lyons also explained that baseball has one advantage of many other sports. “Baseball tickets are also kind of cheap. Although they might be in the nose-bleed section, you can get tickets for as little as $10. At that rate, you can’t help but not go to at least one game.”
Some students though, aren’t as excited. “I wouldn’t go out and buy my own tickets. I am not into baseball like that,” explained Nicole Reed, also a student of Howard University. “But if it was a group thing then I could get into that.”
Regardless, the Washington Nationals have already sold twice as many home tickets than the franchise did for the entire 2004 season and is quickly spreading a hold throughout the D.C. Metro Area.