News & Politics

Sean Doolittle Managed to Be of DC and Not Just in DC

An appreciation of the Nats reliever as he heads to Cincinnati.

Photograph by Flickr user David.

Sean Doolittle will join the Cincinnati Reds. That’s just how the system works, as any good DSA member could tell you: Doolittle helped win a World Series, has nearly 150,000 followers on Twitter, and got married on the Mall. But he became a free agent after an injury-dinged 2020 season, and it quickly became clear he and his self-described “goth wife,” Eireann Dolan, probably wouldn’t be able to stick around long.

The way Doolittle and Dolan used their outsized platform spoke to Washingtonians. Not only did they meet on Twitter, they intuitively understood how to make the most of the service, whether they were raising money for LGBTQ+ kids in DC, smacking down Nazis, or dispatching the kind of troll who furthers the DC-isn’t-a-real-town-and-it-has-no-real-baseball-fans myth:

Dolan and Doolittle weren’t exactly loudmouths, but they were adamant that DC is a great place to live. Last fall, they described a perfect day here, a list that included single-speed cycling, book-shopping, and getting inked. Doolittle was a big proponent of independent bookshops—visiting them and tweeting about them while he was on the road and once got mistaken as an employee at Capitol Hill Books. (You can follow him on Goodreads.)

The couple spent their time here as wide-eyed cynics, marveling at the good stuff around them as they kicked at the bad. When baseball’s future was still up in the air as the US bungled the coronavirus pandemic, Doolittle described sports as “the reward of a functioning society,” a memorable formulation that was simultaneously complaint and challenge.

It’s become rare for famous people who live here to engage with the day-to-day DC, a place that’s almost always overlooked by the strivers who use “Washington” as a metonym for everything they think is wrong with the US. Cincinnati is another place with hidden gems, and it will be lucky to have them, too. And, in what’s perhaps a stroke of good fortune for Doolittle, it abandoned its subway long ago.

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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.