By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
For a few hours in the shadow of the Canadian Embassy and the United States Capitol, the Washington Nationals World Series championship celebration personified what makes America great. Fans representing every demographic that makes D.C. an international city, celebrated the city’s third world championship in two years.
It was an emotional day for many who didn’t understand the full magnitude of how winning the World Series legitimized the District as a championship sports town once again. Scores of fans walked the same route on Pennsylvania Ave. between the White House and the Capitol – that many Presidents have during their inauguration – to share a moment that few thought they would ever witness. This was a generational moment signalling a change in passion for the fan base that once bled burgundy and gold but now rocks the red.
“Its my first championship in D.C. that I really cheered for,” Isaac, a millennial fan and D.C. resident told the AFRO. “Baseball was my first sports love and it’s great to see us bring the world championship home to the nation’s capital.”
“The first time I saw [the NFL franchise] play was in 1999 and its been nothing but disappointment ever since.”
For the young generation of sports, only the myth of championship success of the NFL franchise more than two decades ago lingers, and they know even less about the Bullets title in 1978. This celebration set the Nationals up to become the favorite team of, what is now affectionately known as, “District of Clutch.”
“We’ve been waiting for this since 2005 so it’s kind of surreal,” Nats fan and Prince George’s County resident Carl Allen told the AFRO while sharing the moment with his two-year-old daughter Penelope on his shoulders. “She will be able to look back at these pictures we took and see that she was here as we shared this moment.”
Fans of all ages and backgrounds filled Metro trains and were orderly during a celebration that was emotional, yet tempered by a sense of not fully comprehending what happened in Houston days earlier. The Nationals became the first team in North American sports history to win a championship by winning every game in the opposition’s home stadium. Fittingly, the series was defined by the number seven.
The Nationals won game seven in Houston with a rally that started in a seventh inning rally, which was capped by another series clinching home run by National League Championship Series MVP Howie Kendrick, who wears uniform number 47 to put them ahead for good. As he stepped to the microphone, it was clear this moment was more than just about winning the championship. Sharing in the experience with a special group of teammates restored his passion after rebounding from a torn Achilles tendon that sidelined him in 2018 and left him pondering retirement.
“They taught me to love the game again,” Kendrick said. “This city taught me to love the game again. We got a lot of bulldogs in this locker room, but we also got a lot puppies too. But that’s okay they are all welcome.”
For at least one day the L-word was most fitting. People of all races hugged, high fived and talked with strangers as though they were family. In a city that has been hurting because of rampant homicides and other maladies that plague urban America, this parade and all that accompanied it, proved that love can still be a many splendored thing.