Former Nationals will reunite for Ryan Zimmerman’s number retirement


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A lineup’s worth of Ryan Zimmerman’s former teammates are scheduled to attend the Washington Nationals’ two-day celebration next week of their longtime face of the franchise.

Zimmerman, who announced his retirement in February after a 16-year career that began in June 2005 when the Nationals made him their first draft selection, will participate in a Q&A next Friday before the second game of a split doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park. On Saturday, June 18, Zimmerman will become the first Nationals player to have his number retired, during a pregame on-field ceremony.

Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Adam LaRoche, Jordy Mercer, Laynce Nix, Brian Schneider, Jayson Werth, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann are the former Nationals expected to be on hand for one or both days of the festivities. Players in attendance Friday will participate in their own Q&A atop the visitor’s dugout from 6-6:15 p.m., before Zimmerman takes the mic for his session from 6:20-6:40. Both sessions will be moderated by MASN play-by-play voice Bob Carpenter and shown on the video board.

The first 20,000 fans 21 and older at Friday’s game will receive an “Employee No. 11” T-shirt, a reference to one of Zimmerman’s nicknames. The 37-year-old is also known as “Mr. National” and “Mr. Walk-Off,” for the 11 game-ending home runs he hit in his career, including one in the first game at Nationals Park in 2008. A Gold Glove winner, two-time all-star and 2019 World Series champion, Zimmerman retired as the Nationals’ all-time leader in home runs (284), hits (1,846), RBI (1,061) and games played (1,799).

Schneider, the Nationals’ primary catcher in their first three years of existence, is the only player among the former teammates scheduled to participate who was on the roster on Sept. 1, 2005, when Zimmerman made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter at Atlanta’s Turner Field. Zimmerman struck out against the Braves’ Jim Brower that night, but doubled in his first plate appearance the next day at RFK Stadium. Desmond, Espinosa, LaRoche, Werth, Gonzalez and Zimmermann all contributed to the Nationals’ 2012 NL East title, the first of Zimmerman’s five postseason trips.

Ryan Zimmerman became the face of the franchise in D.C. They had a front-row seat.

Gates for Saturday’s game will open at 2:30 p.m. and Zimmerman’s jersey retirement ceremony, which will be emceed by Dan Kolko and broadcast on MASN, will begin at 3:10 p.m.

The first 10,000 fans 12 and under at Saturday’s game will receive a T-shirt modeled after Zimmerman’s jersey from his 2006 rookie season. Zimmerman, the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft out of the University of Virginia, wore No. 25 in 20 big league appearances with the Nationals that September before switching to No. 11, which he wore in college, in 2006. Virginia retired Zimmerman’s number in April.

Former Nationals manager Frank Robinson and ex-players Werth and Ivan Rodriguez are in the team’s ring of honor at Nationals Park, but no National has had his number retired.

Ryan Zimmerman: Face of the franchise, Mr. Walk-Off, Washington’s forever

“Not only is Ryan ‘Mr. National,’ but he is, more importantly, a dear friend,” Mark Lerner, the Nationals’ managing principal owner, said in a statement. “It brings me and my family so much joy to see that his No. 11 jersey is the first in Nationals history to be retired, and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Ryan, his family and friends back to the ballpark for a weekend full of celebration, memories and thanks.”

Beginning next Friday, the team store at Nationals Park will feature Zimmerman-themed merchandise and memorabilia, including a limited edition “Mr. National” Zimmerman bobblehead.


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