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The Nationals Have Their Own Spike Lee, and It’s Robert Allbritton

Allbritton (sitting above the "N" and the "A") watches Yadier Molina hit during Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Monday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Toronto Raptors have Drake. The New York Knicks have Spike Lee. The Washington Nationals have Robert Allbritton. The Politico owner and publisher has been super-fun to watch during the Nats’ improbable postseason run. He sits in the front row of Nationals Park, just behind home plate and to the right of the batter if you’re watching at home. Allbritton is a demonstrative fan, standing and cheering when the Nats are winning and dramatically dropping his head when things go wrong. I’ve even seen him clapping along to the “Cha Cha Slide.” For some reason he agreed to answer my questions about his attendance at games.

Washingtonian: How long have you had those seats?

Robert Allbritton: From the beginning. When they moved over from RFK there was quite a bit of negotiating.

How many seats do you have?

Four of them. I split them 50/50 with a guy in Steve Case’s office. During playoffs we just split them two and two.

How often do you go during the regular season?

There are so many games. It’s a wee bit much for any human being who actually has a job. I probably do 20-25 games, which is a lot. Since the wild-card game I’ve been to all of them.

I’ve noticed you enjoying a frosty beer. What do you like to get eat at the ballpark?

Ballpark food! Beer and peanuts. If I’m not clapping, I’ve got peanuts in my hand.

Sometimes I see you looking at your phone. Do you hear from your friends when you’re on TV?

Totally, yeah, it’s a blast. Everybody ‘s constantly writing you. I’m text buddies with [Washingtonian owner] Cathy Merrill. I’ve got a good friend of mine from Wesleyan University; we’ve had this long text thing going on during games. When Jon Karl was down there I think half the White House staff was harassing him for seats. The only problem with those seats is if you disappear to go to the bathroom people ask you where you’ve gone.

Tell me about that red sweatshirt that you wear. Did you buy that specifically to go to playoff games?

I already had it. You know how it is finding red clothing in your wardrobe. If you’re a normal male who’s married you used up the red T-shirt to make sure you never do whites again in your life. During the first playoff game I didn’t even have a hat; I had to disappear in the first inning to buy a hat. My kids ran off with my hat.

You’re such an expressive fan!

This year it’s hard not to be. This is the best thing that’s happened to this city in a long time. I fully admit, having gone through this several times before, you expect disaster to strike at any moment. [When the Cardinals were poised to come back in the last league championship game] it was typical Nationals, like, “Oh no, we’ve seen this before.” They won the pennant! I’m happy— whatever happens next I don’t care. If they win even one [World Series] game, this is a wonderful thing. It’s such a strange feeling; it’s not the Nationals we know and love.

Do you want the Nats to play New York or Houston in the Series?

I want New York but I think we’re going to get Houston. I was born in Houston. It’s not a painful choice for me, but it’s a little weird. My dad [the media and banking mogul Joe Allbritton] always had a love of baseball, but he had no desire to have any ownership of a team. I’m trying to follow that legacy of just having good seats.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed. Full disclosure: I worked for an Allbritton-owned publication, TBD.com, from 2010-2012. 

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.