There was nothing not to like about opening day at Nats Park, even the chilly wind and light sprinkles that arrived in the later innings. The world felt just a little brighter and better because regular season baseball was back on deck in DC, Stephen Strasburg was on the mound, and Bryce Harper hit two spectacular home runs in his first two at-bats, leading the team to a 2-0 win over the Miami Marlins. It was Harper’s first opening day as a major leaguer, as last year he got brought up after the season began.
The fans showed up in record numbers—a reported 45,274—creating the appearance of a crimson wash across the stands thanks to red hats, shirts, and jackets. They started filling the stadium early, after the gates opened at 10:30. By noon it was a full-on party atmosphere, and the crowd included a young Cleveland Park couple celebrating their wedding earlier at the DC courthouse.
Once the program got down to business, there were speeches and awards and hoopla about last season, when the Nats won the National League East championship. A centerpiece of opening day was the unveiling of a new sign proclaiming the honor. There was also a moment of silence for the victims of the Sandy Hook school shootings; a Medal of Honor recipient, former Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha, threw out the first pitch; and a giant American flag was unfurled in the outfield.
It was sunny and breezy for most of the game. The fans went wild for both of Harper’s homers. We took photos from the moment we arrived until we departed, and the only thing missing is the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, and the smell of the hot dogs and beer. The next chance to see the Nationals is Wednesday at 7 or Thursday at 4, for the second and third installments in the three-game series with the Marlins.