Na­tion­als fans re­joice in red as home­town heroes are hon­ored

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - As­so­ci­ated Press

By Carole Feld­man and Lynn Berry

WASH­ING­TON (AP) >> “Baby Shark” blared over loud­speak­ers and a wave of red washed across this po­lit­i­cally blue cap­i­tal Satur­day as Na­tion­als fans lined the city’s ver­sion of the Canyon of Heroes to re­joice in Wash­ing­ton’s first World Se­ries vic­tory since 1924.

“We just felt it was a on­cein-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Brid­get Chapin, who came from Burke, Vir­ginia, with her hus­band, Mark, for the pa­rade along Con­sti­tu­tion Av­enue and the en­su­ing rally a few blocks from the Capi­tol.

Nick Hashimoto of Dulles, Vir­ginia, was among those who ar­rived at 5 a.m. to snag a front-row spot. He brought his own baby shark toy in honor of backup out­fielder Ger­ardo Parra’s walk-up song, which be­gan as a parental trib­ute to the mu­si­cal taste of his 2-yearold daugh­ter and ended up as a ral­ly­ing cry that united spec­ta­tors at Na­tion­als Park and his team­mates.

As “Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo” played on a crisp morn­ing, early ris­ers joined in with the trade­mark re­sponse — arms ex­tended in a chomp­ing mo­tion. Chants of “Let’s go Nats” res­onated from the crowd hours be­fore they were to hear from the team.

“I’ve met all these peo­ple to­day. I’ve got new friends,” said Kim­berly Bal­lou of Sil­ver Spring, Mary­land.

The Na­tion­als were ex­pected to get a hero’s wel­come home from tens of thou­sands of peo­ple in a city that had thirsted for a base­ball cham­pion for nearly a cen­tury. The Na­tion­als gave them that by win­ning in seven games over the Hous­ton Astros; the clincher came on the road Wed­nes­day night.

“I just wish they could have won in DC,” said Ron­ald Saun­ders of Wash­ing­ton, who came with a Lit­tle League team that was march­ing in the pa­rade.

The crowd along the route was deeply packed, more peo­ple were stream­ing in and there were red stream­ers, hand tow­els and signs that said “Fight Fin­ished.”

“When they tell you dreams come true, point them to­ward our @Na­tion­als,” Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted af­ter Game 7. “Tell them they do.” She in­cluded the hash­tag Sport­sCap­i­tal,

a ref­er­ence, too, to the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals’ Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­onship in 2018 and the Wash­ing­ton Mys­tics’ WNBA cham­pi­onship this year.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has in­vited the Na­tion­als to the White House on Mon­day, though re­lief pitcher Sean Doolit­tle doesn’t plan to at­tend.

“There’s a lot of things, poli­cies that I dis­agree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the di­vi­sive rhetoric and the en­abling of con­spir­acy the­o­ries and widen­ing the di­vide in this coun­try,” Doolit­tle told The Wash­ing­ton Post.

Doolit­tle found sup­port from Larry Stokes of Boyds, Mary­land, cit­ing Trump’s stand on im­mi­grants. “They’re play­ing this game, but he doesn’t like im­mi­grants,” Stokes said.

But to fan Brid­get Chapin, “Re­gard­less of how you feel, you go to the Oval Of­fice. I’m re­ally weary of ath­letes mak­ing po­lit­i­cal state­ments. I watch sports to get away from all that.”

The pres­i­dent at­tended Game 5 in Wash­ing­ton and was greeted with loud boos when he was shown on the gi­ant video screen dur­ing a trib­ute to vet­er­ans. The boos more than over­whelmed a scat­ter­ing of cheers.

Delores Smith of Wash­ing­ton, a long­time base­ball fan who said she had an un­cle who pitched in the Ne­gro Leagues, said the World Se­ries was “a big win” for the city. “This is the first time in a long time that I’ve seen the whole city come to­gether. There’s no fuss­ing about Trump.”

NICK WASS - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als man­ager Dave Martinez, left, waves a flag and Ryan Zim­mer­man, right, hoists the World Se­ries tro­phy as the base­ball team ar­rives at Dulles Air­port, Thurs­day, Oct. 31, 2019, in Chan­tilly, Va.

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