The first player ever drafted by the Washington Nationals will now be the first Nats player to have his number retired. Ryan Zimmerman’s number 11 is being hung up for good this Saturday as part of a two-day celebration honoring the MLB star. Zimmerman retired from baseball earlier this year after a 17-season run. Here’s a quick look:
Before tonight’s game against the Phillies (the second of a double-header), there will be an on-field Q&A with former Nationals players and Zimmerman himself. The guest list is expected to include familiar names like Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth. Fan favorite-turned-Philly “phoe” Bryce Harper will also be in attendance, although he’ll be in the visiting dugout. The first 25,000 adult fans will also receive a Zimmerman “Employee #11” t-shirt.
Zimmerman’s pregame jersey-retirement ceremony will be on Saturday at 3:10 PM. Gates will open at 2:30, and the first pitch will be pushed back to 4:35 to accommodate the festivities. The first 10,000 kids under 12 will get a Zimmerman t-shirt.
An Impressive Career
So why is Zimmerman the first Nat to get his jersey retired? Nicknamed “Mr. National,” Zimmerman is the Nationals franchise leader in home runs (284), hits (1846), RBIs (1061), extra-base hits (723), games played (1799), at bats (6654), plate appearances (7402), runs scored (963), doubles (417), and total bases (3159).
A year after the Nationals relocated to DC from Montreal in 2005, Zimmerman kicked off his career by finishing second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. He was a two-time All-Star and started the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami. He never won an MVP, but received MVP votes in four of his 16 seasons. One of those years was 2009, when he was an All-Star, won a gold glove, and won one of his two silver slugger awards.
Perhaps most important, Zimmerman had two home runs and seven RBI during the Nationals’ 2019 postseason run that culminated in the first World Series appearance for a DC team in 86 years and the District’s first World Series Championship in 95 years.
The 2019 championship run wouldn’t have happened had it not been for Zimmerman’s pinch hit, broken bat, bloop single against the Brewers in the NL Wild Card Game. The Nationals were down 3-1 with two outs in the eighth inning when Zimmerman singled to put the tying run on base and keep the inning alive. At the time of Zimmerman’s single, ESPN gave the Nationals a mere 13.3% chance of winning the one-and-done playoff game. Those odds jumped to 87.3% later that inning when then-rookie Juan Soto hit a clutch two-run single to put the Nats ahead. The Nats went on to win the Wild Card game, and the rest is history.