NatsFanZone Interview: Meet “Rita 103,” NATS fan (52 games last year)

NatsFanZone Interview:  Meet “Rita 103,” NATS fan (52 games last year)

You won’t be surprised that Rita sits in section 103 (and shares some other seats in 100 with friends) in left field…near the Red Porch and Brew House, putting her close, by the way, to Jayson Werth on whom her granddaughter has a big crush (for Rita, he is “Werth-more” or “Werth-less,” depending on the day).  She likes the “straight on” view from 103, and the easy in/out entrance for her “bum knee.”   

Rita has had the half season package for 6 years, before that shared with her daughters-in-law, and went to 52 games last year.  The NATS became her #1 team when they drafted Ryan Zimmerman, “the epitome of class;” she is excited to see #11 injury-free (and doing great) this season.  She has also enjoyed watching Bryce Harper grow up from a teenager to a “tough young man.”

Some  of Rita’s Favorite Past NATS:  Chad Cordero, Livan Hernandez, Pudge Rodriguez, Mike Morse, Tyler Clippard, Alfonso Soriano and Nyjer Morgan.

How did Rita 103 became a huge baseball fan?  Rita grew up outside Pittsburgh (isn’t everyone in D.C. from Pittsburgh?) and was a huge Pirates fan.  She played baseball, had her own equipment and learned from her dad.  Though she had big hopes, she grew up in a different “boys only” era but settled for team water girl (with her own hat!)….she has great memories of those days at the field.

Her dad took her to old Forbes Field where she got to see the greats like Clemente, Mazeroski, Haddox, Groat, Virdon and Elroy Face, sitting in the sunny bleachers with her dad.  Her dad had one rule:  she had to score the games (or he wouldn’t take her again); dad was the official scorer for the local Little League.  She learned at age 6 or 7 and, to this day, scores every game she attends.   She managed her son’s team but her coaching career did not last long as she was again a bit ahead of her time on mom-coaching.

Why she loves baseball:   “I love the beauty, psychology and complexity of baseball.”  Sharing baseball with her grandchildren has become a great bonding experience, sitting through rain, drizzle, cold and heat with her.  Her 12-year old granddaughter loves baseball and she’s the one who also loves Jayson Werth (who plays right in front of their seats).  Rita’s husband, Dave, also from Pittsburgh, has stuck with the hometown team and accompanies when the Pirates are in town (he just sort of shakes his head over Rita and her NATS thing).  Dave’s attendance has been good for the NATS side, however (Pirates have yet to win a game he has attended), so we encourage Dave to show up more often.

NATS and Nationals Park:  

Red Carpet Rewards:  Rita and her friends enjoy the Red Carpet Rewards; she is in a network with her seat-mates to keep track of all the codes.  Sometimes they bring food and other times they eat in the Brew House or from nearby concessions.   She had to give up beer a few years back (allergies, ugh) so complains more about the price of water now….like most fans, she brings her own bottle.


NATS Staff:  Her experience with the NATS staff and employees has been great:  very friendly and helpful NATS staff at the park, and her ticket agent, Brandon, has been “terrific.”


Bob & FP & Charlie & Dave:  Rita loves Bob Carpenter & FP Santangelo (who doesn’t) with their teachable moments, and she usually listens to Charlie Slowes & Dave Jaegler on her old Walkman at the games.  She enjoys learning baseball facts, stats and arcane baseball – the stuff reserved for “crazed fans.”

Pay attention MLB:  Like the rest of us, she dislikes “having to listen to other announcers (ESPN, etc) doing NATS games; they don’t know the nuts and bolts, quirks of our team.”

Pay attention NATS Execs – Rita’s Pet Peeves:   

Fans walking up and down the aisles during at bats.

Visiting opponent fans heckling Werth (we know who they are).

Kids food:  the NATS need more concession packages for kids.  Kid food and kids prices; other parks have much lower prices.

Water:  the price is outrageous.

Rita is proud to be a NATS fan and is looking forward to the playoffs (World Series!) and All-Star game next year.

Thanks, Rita 103, for our first NatsFanZone Fan Interview!



May 20th: WSH-2, ATL-5

Final R H E
WSH 2 7 0
ATL 5 9 1
W: Krol (1-1, 6.88)
L: Scherzer (4-3, 3.02)
S: Johnson (8)


Wind made the rain delay in the 5th inning more problematic for the grounds crew in Atlanta, but NATS reliever Oliver Perez was at the ready trying to help get the tarp in place.

Nonetheless, the NATS weren’t able to get things turned around after the almost 2 hour rain delay, with the Braves bullpen keeping the NATS hitless in the final 4 and two-thirds innings.

Max Scherzer (3.02) pitched 5 innings giving up 3 earned runs off of 4 hits, 3 walks and 2 HRs (106 pitches, 62 strikes).  Scherzer struck out 6 of 21 batters.  Blake Treinen (7.78) gave up a run (2 hits), Oliver Perez (5.79) put up a zero in the runs column, and Matt Albers (1.62) gave up a solo HR making it 2-5.

Trea Turner (.243) went 2-for-4 with 1 RBI (scoring Matt Wieters), and Jayson Werth (.296) drove in Max Scherzer (both runs scored in the 5th inning).

Next game Sunday 1:35 PM in Atlanta:  Stephen Strasburg (4-1, 3.42 ERA, 48 K) vs. Jaime Garcia (1-2, 4.65 ERA, 25 K).

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May 19th: WSH-4, ATL-7

Final R H E
WSH 4 8 0
ATL 7 12 1
W: Vizcaino (2-1, 2.76)
L: Romero (2-2, 5.75)
S: Johnson (7)


Michael Taylor (.279) had a 2-for-4 night (including a double) and made an impressive throw to home in the 6th inning to get Dansby Swanson out.  Daniel Murphy (.325) homered (#8) going 2-for-4 with 1 RBI and 6 total bases.  Trea Turner had an RBI single scoring Michael Taylor in the top of the 3rd.  The NATS had 8 hits, 3 walks, 6 Ks and 10 LOB.  Braves SP R.A. Dickey got tagged with all 4 NATS runs (2 earned), giving up 8 hits (1 HR), 3 walks and striking out 4.

NATS SP Gio Gonzalez (2.86) struggled in 5.2 innings, giving up 4 earned runs on 4 hits (2 HRs) and 3 walks, throwing 116 pitches (72 strikes) to 28 batters.  Matt Grace (4.76) and Shawn Kelley (6.08) did not give up a run but Enny Romero (5.75), who entered with the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 8th, gave up 3 runs.

Next up at 4:10 PM Saturday:  Max Scherzer (4-2, 2.80 ERA, 70 K) vs. Bartolo Colon (2-4, 6.80 ERA, 27 K).


May 18th: WSH-4, PIT-10

Final R H E
WSH 4 6 2
PIT 10 13 1
W: Glasnow (2-3, 7.34)
L: Roark (3-2, 4.73)


SP Tanner Roark (4.73) had a rough night in Pittsburgh giving up 7 earned runs on 8 hits, 2 HR (2-run to Josh Bell in the 1st and a solo shot to John Jaso in the 5th), and 4 walks in 5 innings (114 pitches, 66 strikes).  Roark’s game score was a very low 16 to the Pirates SP Tyler Glasnow’s 46 (the best game score of 2017 is Max Scherzer’s 78 and Gio Gonzalez had the previous low of 32).

Relief:  Blake Treinen (7.71) then faced 3, giving up 1 run, Enny Romero (4.66) gave up 2 runs, and Shawn Kelley (6.57) was able to put up zeroes in the 9th.

The NATS had 2 errors for a second night in a row, both by Daniel Murphy (throw and missed catch).  

Murphy (.320) had a good night otherwise going 2-for-4 with a solo HR.  Adam Lind (.341) and Ryan Zimmerman (.376) both doubled, and Bryce Harper (.365) struck out 3 times.  Anthony Rendon (.270) walked twice and scored 1 run.

NATS totals:  6 Hits, 2 RBI, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts, 16 LOB.

Up next – NATS to Atlanta:  Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 2.47 ERA, 41 K) vs. R.A. Dickey (3-3, 4.22 ERA, 22 K).

May 17th: WSH-1, PIT-6

Final R H E
WSH 1 3 2
PIT 6 7 0
W: Cole (2-4, 2.84)
L: Turner (2-2, 3.74)


Brian Goodwin (.250) drove in the only NATS run with an RBI double in the top of the 7th inning, scoring Daniel Murphy (.315). Goodwin was picked off after that double for the inning’s 3rd out.

Trea Turner (.246) stole 2nd (his 8th SB) in the 6th.  Turner had 2 fielding errors (fielding 1st inning and throwing 8th inning).

The NATS had 3 hits (Turner, Goodwin and Jose Lobaton), 3 walks (Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Jacob Turner) and 11 LOB.

SP Jacob Turner (3.74) kept things scoreless until the 6th inning when he gave up 3 runs (total pitches 89, with 49 strikes).  Blake Treinen (7.36) faced 3 with no runs and 1 K, Oliver Perez (6.48) gave up 2 runs, Matt Albers (1.15) 1 run and Matt Grace (5.06) took the 9th putting down 3 batters without incident.

Up next:  Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.88 ERA, 39 K) vs Tyler Glasnow (1-3, 7.98 ERA, 31 K).

May 16th: WSH-8, PIT-4

Final R H E
WSH 8 14 1
PIT 4 8 0
W: Strasburg (4-1, 3.42)
L: Kuhl (1-4, 6.69)


Bryce Harper (.388) hit his 13th HR of the year, and he has now hit a HR in all 15 NL MLB ballparks.  Wilmer Difo (.200), filling in for Daniel Murphy at 2B, hit his second career HR in the 4th inning, and Jayson Werth (.316) went 3-for-5.  Michael Taylor (.266) hit a triple, and Trea Turner (.254) doubled and stole his 7th base.  Ryan Zimmerman (.385) went 2-for-5, with 2 RBI. 

Stephen Strasburg (3.42) pitched 6 innings, getting charged with 3 earned runs on 4 hits, 3 walks and 1 HR (25 batters, 108 pitches/68 strikes).  Strasburg struck out 3, got a hit and scored a run.  Matt Albers (0.61) gave up 1 run facing 2 batters, Oliver Perez (4.32) faced 1, Blake Treinen (7.64) faced 2, Enny Romero (4.58) faced 3, and Koda Glover (3.09)  faced 5 in the 9th.

Next up:  Jacob Turner vs. Gerrit Cole (7:05 at PNC)


Dusty Baker’s son, Darren: MLB in his Future?


Darren Baker was a 3-year old bat boy for the San Francisco Giants and famously g0t saved by 1st baseman JT Snow in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series.  Snow reacted quickly to scoop Darren up to safety (Darren was near home plate with runners bearing down from 3rd)….you can find the video on-line.

Fifteen years later and Darren is a senior at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, CA, a bit taller and more robust than that photo from 15 years ago (now 5’11” and 155 lbs), is batting .396, and committed to play at Cal next year.

Sure, Darren has been able to have some famous mentors and hang out with the likes of Barry Bonds, Bryce Harper and Brandon Phillips, but his success on the field is his alone.

According to an article worth reading in The Sacramento Bee (May 11, 2017, by Ailen Voisin – see below), Dusty let him find his own way to athletics and baseball.  Dusty and his wife, Melissa, emphasized academics over athletics and Darren will graduate with a 3.7 GPA.

Darren told Voisin that he treasures the fishing trips with his dad and said how Dusty still goes hunting and fishing by himself, and brings “everything home like a caveman,” putting the fish in milk in the fridge to try out some new recipes.

Luckily for Dusty and Melissa, Darren won’t be too far from home at Cal.  We look forward to seeing more of Darren on the field in the future.


ARTICLE:  Dusty Baker’s son Darren of Jesuit High MLB prospects, by Ailen Voisin (Sacramento Bee, May 11, 2017)



May 14th – Game #2: WSH-6, PHI-5

Final R H E
WSH 6 8 0
PHI 5 10 1
W: Turner (2-1, 3.31)
L: Neshek (0-1, 1.32)
S: Albers (2)-

SCHERZER Immaculate Inning (After Shot to his Knee)

SP Max Scherzer (2.80) was able to not only walk off the pain of a 100-mph comeback line drive to his knee in the 4th, he returned in the fifth to pitch an immaculate inning in the 5th.  Scherzer struck out Cesar Hernandez, Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr on 9 pitches, 9 strikes, 3 Ks (swinging) for the 2nd ever immaculate inning in NATS history (Jordan Zimmermann had the first May 6, 2011).  Scherzer completed 6 innings giving up 3 runs on 9 hits with 8 strikeouts.  Matt Grace (6.23) and Jacob Turner (3.31) each gave up a run, with Turner getting the win.  Matt Albers (0.61) pitched the 9th facing 3 and striking out 1 for the save.

Michael Taylor (.267) hit a 2-run HR in the 8th to give the NATS the lead, and win, in the second game of the doubleheader.  Bryce Harper (.384) had three hits and 2 RBI, and Brian Goodwin (.222) had a pinch-hit RBI double in the 6th.  Ryan Zimmerman (.385) walked twice.

Next up:  NATS have the day off on Monday, then face the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Tuesday (Strasburg vs Kuhl).


May 14th: WSH-3, PHI-4

Final R H E
WSH 3 9 2
PHI 4 10 1
W: Benoit (1-2, 5.06)
L: Kelley (3-1, 7.15)
S: Neris (4)

Mother’s Day Game #1:  7TH Blown Save by NATS Bullpen

Gio Gonzalez (2.47) pitched 6.2 strong innings and departed with the NATS up 3 to 2.  Gio gave up 1 earned run on 4 hits and 3 walks with 5 strikeouts, throwing 112 pitches (63 strikes) to 24 batters.  Matt Albers (0.66) faced 3 batters (1 hit) and Enny Romero 2 batters, both without giving up a run (each at 3 holds now).  Shawn Kelley (7.15), after a good outing returning from the DL on Friday, gave up 3 runs in the top of the 9th earning his second blown save this year (the 7th by the bullpen this season).  Kelley faced 5 batters giving up 3 hits, 1 HR, and 1 walk (24 pitches, 15 strikes).  Koda Glover (3.38) closed things off facing 4 with 2 hits and no runs.

Brian Goodwin (.347) replaced day-to-day Jayson Werth in LF, and Adam Lind (.341) started at 1B.  Bryce Harper hit a solo HR in the 1ST and Trea Turner hit a 2-run HR in the 5TH inning, both off of Phillies SP Jeremy Hellickson.  Anthony Rendon (.279) hit a triple in the first and walked twice.  Michael Taylor (.268) went 2-for-4, and scored 1 run.

The NATS had 2 fielding errors:  Adam Lind (2) and Anthony Rendon (4).

In case you missed it, the NATS and Bryce Harper agreed to a 2018 contract of $21.65 million, with Harper now the highest paid arbitration-eligible player in MLB history.

NEXT UP-Mother’s Day Game #2:  Scherzer vs Velasquez.

May 13th: WSH-6, PHI-4

Final R H E
WSH 6 10 0
PHI 4 8 0
W: Kelley (3-0, 4.91)
L: Ramos (0-3, 4.70)

Walk-Off Win:  HARPER; Welcome Back KELLEY/GLOVER

With the game tied 4-4 in the 9th, Bryce Harper (.368) hit a 2-out, 2-run HR (scoring PH Adam Lind) to win the game.  Harper went 2-for-4, with 1 walk and 4 RBI.  Trea Turner (.257) hit a HR in the 5th (scoring Michael Taylor), and Ryan Zimmerman (.397) went 2-for-4 with a 2-run double in the 5th.  Jayson Werth (.303) departed in the 8th (groin) and was replaced by Chris Heisey (.132) in LF.

Tanner Roark (3.88) pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks, with 5 K (11o pitches/63 strikes).  The bullpen was strong (2 hits, 1 walk, no runs) with a parade of relievers:  Joe Blanton (2 batters), Jacob Turner (3), Enny Romero (3), and Koda Glover (5).  Shawn Kelley (4.91) pitched the 9th, striking out 2 of 5 batters (walked 2), to get the win.  Kelley and Glover both just returned from the DL.

Next up:  Double header (Friday’s makeup game) on Mother’s Day.

1:35 PM:  Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 2.64 ERA, 36 K) vs Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 3.49 ERA, 17 K).

7:06 PM:  Max Scherzer (4-2, 2.59 ERA, 62 K) vs Vince Velasquez (2-3, 5.94 ERA, 34 K)