I was at the not-sold-out Nats Park for the opening of the 2017 baseball season, in which the Nats came from behind to win and looked good doing it. It’s one of the hundreds of games I’ve attended in my life, and I’ve been lucky enough to see some fantastic (if not always winning) baseball moments.
I’ve seen big-league games in 10 parks and minor-league games in five more. But here are the games that stood out the most:
1. Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS between the Nats and the Cardinals. This is the game in which Jayson Werth hit that game-winning homer after an epic at-bat. That was easily the most thrilling sports moment I’ve ever witnessed in person.
2. Game 1 of the 1982 World Series between the Cardinals and the then-American-League Milwaukee Brewers. I grew up in Missouri as a huge Cardinals fan and fell into these tickets unexpectedly at the last minute. The Cards were crushed, 10-0, but it didn’t matter because they won the Series anyway. It was their first Series win of my adult life; I’m old enough to remember the 1967 and 1968 teams as a kid, and those teams sealed my lifelong fandom with the game.
3. Stephen Strasburg’s first start. Yes, it was all the way back in 2010 and he looked every bit like a future Hall of Famer, striking out 14 and electrifying the park in a way I’ve never seen during the regular season. By season’s end, he had blown out his elbow, starting the path that led to him being unavailable for that 2012 postseason. To this day, I wonder if that cost the Nats a World Series visit.
4. The end of ‘The Streak.’ Some friends invited us to Just Another O’s Game late in the 1998 season. The Nats didn’t exist yet and the O’s were playing out the string against the Yankees.
But Ripken didn’t come out for the game. He’d gone to his manager and asked to end The Streak — he had played in 2,632 consecutive games, a major league record by more than 500 games. I remember the Yankees all coming out of their dugout to tip their hats to Ripken, and I remember him circling outfield between innings late in the game to shake hands with fans. And just like that, The Streak was over.
5. The ‘Oh, God’ Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS. Being a Washington sports fan will break your heart. I stlil can’t discuss the details of this game. I can’t. I can’t. Read about it for yourself.