Nats Fans on the Road: Dodger Stadium

The Nationals played a three game series in Los Angeles. We caught up with fans who traveled to Dodger Stadium. (Nationals Twitter)
The Nationals played a three game series in Los Angeles. We caught up with fans who traveled to Dodger Stadium. (Nationals Twitter)

The Washington Nationals played a three game series against the Dodgers in downtown Los Angeles last week.  Fanfare surrounds the annual west coast trip to Chavez Ravine which is home of the league’s third-oldest ballpark.

We caught up with three fans—Julie A., Lisa D., and Josh M.—who shared stories about their experiences at Dodger Stadium.

Julie A.

Julie, a former Nationals on-field reporter for MASN, was in Los Angeles visiting family during the series.  Some of the most appealing aspects of this series were the pitching matchups.  Wednesday night’s contest between Jordan Zimmermann and Clayton Kershaw was enough to attract the attention of Julie and her father—a former Brooklyn Dodgers fan.

Julie and her father watched the game from some great seats on the field level enjoyed a picturesque view of palm trees and mountains in the distance.  Her seats were not far from the current on-field reporter for the Nationals—Dan Kolko.

Fans who crave unique ballpark fare will hit the jackpot at Dodger Stadium.  Dodger Dogs are one of the most popular choices at the ballpark.  The 10-inch hot dogs can be purchased grilled or steamed.  Fans who prefer an all-beef hot dog should consider the “Super Dodger Dog.”  Julie also recommends the churros as a ballpark snack.

Lisa D.

Lisa permanently moved from Fairfax, Virginia to California in 2013 after attending college in “the golden state” and she has continued to support the Nationals from the West coast.  She traveled to Dodger Stadium on Wednesday to cheer on “her favorite guys.”

Like Julie, Lisa cited the “classic California feel” and the palm trees around the ballpark as aspects that make Dodger Stadium feel unique.  These features, Lisa said, are juxtaposed by the ugly parking lot that spans the 352 acre property.

Lisa also said the atmosphere in Dodger Stadium is much different from the atmosphere at Nationals Park.  Dodgers fans, she said, taunt their own players, visiting players and even the opposing team’s fans.

“They just love to be mean and nasty.  I’ve had food thrown at me for wearing a Nats jersey.  I’ve been yelled at and taunted mercilessly.  All of this without instigating anything.”

Fans who want the California feel, she said, may want to see a game in San Diego.

Josh M.

We caught up with Josh on Monday night shortly after he, his wife and two children made it back home from a vacation that included stops at Petco Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park and Dodger Stadium.

Josh bought two tickets, for himself and his son, just a couple of rows behind the Nationals dugout.  In most ballparks, these seats come with their own perks because of close proximity to the players.  The location worked out and Josh and his son had baseballs thrown to them by Michael A. Taylor and Ian Desmond.

His wife and younger son sat in a different part of the ballpark and were surrounded by Dodgers fans.  The two Nats fans, he said, received some “second glances.”

Josh’s experience at the ballpark was marred significantly by his interactions with ushers.  The ushers, Josh said, are very strict about allowing fans into certain sections before the game for pre-game autographs.

“I though some of the Ushers at Nats Park were strict,” he said, “but Dodgers ushers are on a whole other level.”

The Nationals will not return to Dodger Stadium until next year unless they meet in the playoffs.  Check out the playoff schedule here.

Nats Fans on The Road: PNC Park

Joann traveled to Pittsburgh on a Nats Destination trip. (Joann H.)
Joann traveled to Pittsburgh on a Nats Destination trip and she took some terrific photos at PNC Park.

The Washington Nationals traveled to PNC Park last Thursday to play a four game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Many Nationals fans made the five hour road trip to Pittsburgh and they made their presence known with their Curly W apparel and “N-A-T-S, NATS! NATS! NATS!” cheers.  We caught up with two Nationals fans this week—Joann and Daria—who made the trip.

Joann

Joann traveled with her husband to PNC Park as part of an organized Nats Destinations trip.  Nationals fans can pay a flat rate and receive tickets to two games, first class hotel accommodations, a tour of the ballpark and a gift bag.  Participants also receive credentials to attend a pre-game reception with a current Nationals player.  Joann said Clint Robinson attended last weekend’s reception.

The program, she said, was “very well organized.”  “My favorite part was how smoothly everything went…Everything was well planned.” One other exciting part about the trip is that travelers get to spend time with other Nationals fans.  Her favorite part about the way was structured was that she and her husband were able to spend time with other Nationals fans.

The Nats Destinations organizers hooked her and the other travelers up with great seats at the ballpark for the games on Friday and Saturday.  The teams secures tickets with face values between $40 and $70.  Joann had quite the view for the Friday and Saturday game.  She ate some great food (an “amazing” pulled pork and pierogi sandwich) and snapped some impressive photos.

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The next Nats Destination trip is September 11-13 in Miami.

Daria

Daria, a 10-year season ticket holder, arranged her trip to Pittsburgh as part of a larger trip that also brought her to Jacobs Field—home of the Cleveland Indians.

The North Shore neighborhood around the ballpark has many hotels.  If you can’t get a spot at a hotel with a view of the ballpark, there are plenty other hotels, like the Marriot (where Daria stayed), that are just a 15 minute walk from the ballpark.

One of the most defining aspects of PNC Park is the view of the skyline and the Roberto Clemente Bridge which spans the Allegheny River.  Fans walking to the game can cross the bridge, which is closed to traffic on game days, to safely get to and from the ballpark.  All seats, with the exception of the bleacher seats, have excellent views of the skyline and the bridge.

As fans get closer to the ballpark, they will find plenty of history and excitement.  Fans walk by statues of four Pirates Hall of Famers including Bill Mazeroski.  The statue of Mazeroski was unveiled in 2010.  Daria enjoyed the block parties held by the main gates.  The block parties are held on Federal Street (just outside of the left field) on most Fridays and Saturdays and they feature live entertainment along with food and beverage options.

Feeling safe is critical to having a positive fan experience and Daria felt comfortable cheering for the Nationals in her Nationals gear.  She stood when Ian Desmond hit a home run, but was also “mindful of not being an obnoxious fan.”  She chatted with the Pirates fans who sat around her seats and said she, “felt no hostility and had no hassles” at the ballpark.

Nationals fans should definitely add PNC Park to their lists of ballparks to visit.  It comes with a good recommendation from Daria who said she “would definitely go back to PNC Park.”

Nats Fans on the Road: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a great place to see the Nationals play on the road.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a great place to see the Nationals play on the road.

Nationals fans should consider a day trip to Oriole Park at Camden Yards next season for the Battle of the Beltways.  The series is very popular and it attracted 137,031 fans who streamed into stadium in downtown Baltimore for the final series before the All-Star break.

The MARC train is a great way to get to Baltimore for a game.  It runs during rush hour and it also has a limited weekend schedule.  Fans who arrive at Baltimore Penn Station can take a short ride on the light-rail shuttle directly to the ballpark.  The ride home from the game could cost you $17 if you miss the MARC train and have to take Amtrak.

We arrived early at the ballpark on public transportation and took a terrific tour of the ballpark.  This slide show will give a sense of some of the most unique features of the stadium and it should also show you the best places to catch balls, get autographs and stay cool on a hot day.

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We also caught up with two Nationals fans this weekend—Nick and Taylor—who both went to the game on Saturday when the Nationals came from behind twice to win 7-4.

Nick

Nick traveled to Camden Yards to see the Nationals play for three very good reasons.

  1. It was a great opportunity to follow a DC team he loves.
  2. The trip was a short enough distance away and does not require overnight stay.
  3. It is fun to see your team play on the road.

One of the unique aspects about Camden Yards that Nick experienced before settling into his seats behind home plate was watching batting practice from behind the Nationals dugout.  Unlike Nationals Park, which cordons off most of the ballpark until 1.5 hours before the game, the entire ballpark opens 2 hours before the game.

Nick had a great seat behind home plate, but cautioned about obstructed views.
Nick had a great seat behind home plate, but cautioned about obstructed views.

You may also notice in Nick’s Instagram post that Camden Yards does not have high nets that encircle the playing field during batting practice.  This means that there are plenty of opportunities to catch balls and get autographs, but it is important that you stay alert for batted balls.

Max Scherzer signed autographs for only Nationals fans before the game.
Max Scherzer signed autographs for only Nationals fans before the game.

Nationals fans interested in attending a future game at Camden Yards should choose their seats carefully.  “The sight lines are good,” Nick said, “as long as you’re not under the overhang from the upper deck in the lower bowl.”  Although fans in these seats will have great views of the entire field, the scoreboards may be blocked by the overhang.

Walking around the concourse during play could also be detrimental to fans, like Nick, who traveled for the sole purpose of watching the game.  Camden Yards does not have an open concourse, so fans will miss play when they are away from their seats.

Taylor

Taylor made her first trip to Camden Yards in recent memory with a friend on Saturday night and it was her first time seeing the Nationals play on the road.

Taylor traveled to Camden Yards for the first time in recent memory. It was her first time seeing the Nationals on the road.
Taylor traveled to Camden Yards for the first time in recent memory. It was her first time seeing the Nationals on the road.

One of the most distinguishing attributes of the ballpark to many fans, including Taylor, is the brickwork.  It can be found pretty much everywhere at Camden Yards.  Its presence is most obvious in the 1,116-foot long warehouse in right field.  It can also be found clustered along Eutaw Street, Babe Ruth Plaza and Orioles Legends Park.

Taylor is looking forward to the next matchup between the Nationals and Orioles, but will have to be patient because the teams don’t meet again until September 21.

Nats Fans on the Road: Citizens Bank Park

The latest edition of “Nats Fans on the Road” takes us to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia where the Nationals completed their third consecutive series win.  Attendance at “The Bank” has plummeted since 2011 when Philadelphia Phillies led the majors with an average attendance of 45,440 and were the National League East champions.

These two Nationals fans drove to Citizens Bank Park in April for a game Saturday night.
These two Nationals fans drove to Citizens Bank Park in April for a game Saturday night.

This year the Phillies have a 27-50 record and rank 23rd in the majors with an average attendance of 25,151.  We caught up with two Nationals fans this week—Bill and Andrew—who were among the 22,292 fans who attended Friday night’s game in the City of Brotherly Love.

Bill

Bill planned his trip home to see friends around his plans to see a game.  He opted to head straight to his awesome field level seats down the first base line on Friday night as Max Scherer made a bid to join Johnny Vander Meer as the only pitcher to throw two consecutive no-hitters.

Bill sported his new Washington Senators hat from his field level seats.
Bill sported his brand new Washington Senators hat from his field level seats down the first base line.

Nationals fans who prefer to walk around can check out The Bank’s unique view of the visitor’s bi-level bullpen.  The bullpen is now much more accessible to fans as attendance has dwindled.

“In previous trips to the park, those sports filled up fast,” Bill said.  The bullpen is now much more accessible to fans as attendance has dwindled.

Watching the visiting team throw bullpen sessions is more accessible with lower attendance (Baseball Stadium Reviews)
Watching the visiting team throw bullpen sessions is more accessible with lower attendance (Baseball Stadium Reviews)

Bill often takes a pass on the ballpark food and instead opts for dinner at “a famous dive” where fans can get better value.  He recommends Tony Luke’s Cheesesteaks because they have his “favorite cheesesteak,” and Uncle Oogie’s Pizza which is just a 10 minute drive from the stadium.

Visiting fans apparently don’t have to sweat those “stereotypical” run-ins with Phillies fans like they do at Nationals Park.  Bill’s interactions with Phillies fans were pleasant.  “They too were following Scherzer’s perfect game bid and they gave him a loud round of applause when he gave up a hit…They were classy.”

Andrew

Andrew and his family originally planned to see two games—one on Friday and one on Sunday—while they were on vacation.  “The doubleheader was a bonus,” Andrew said acknowledging his opportunity to see a rare traditional single-admission doubleheader.

Andrew took 574 photos on Sunday.  Follow him on Twitter (@NatsFamily) to see them.
Andrew took 574 photos on Sunday. Follow him on Twitter (@NatsFamily) to see them.
My roommate Zach bought a cup of Crab fries when we went to Citizens Bank Park
My roommate Zach bought a cup of Crab fries when we went to Citizens Bank Park

There are plenty of places to get cheesesteaks at The Bank including Campo’s Steaks in Ashburn Alley—the center field concourse where fans can also “enjoy” Crab fries (french-fries seasoned with Old Bay) and take pictures at the Wall of Fame.

Fans, like Andrew, looking for something a little more unique can also stop by left field Federal Donuts concession behind Section 140.  Federal Donuts is Philadelphia establishment that sells a two-piece fried chicken box with a doughnut for $9.75.  For $3.75 fans wanting something sweet can buy brown sugar doughnuts or cinnamon doughnuts in packages of two. Andrew’s experience with a Phillies fan was similar to Bill’s experience.  “The one Phillies fan I talked to Friday was hoping for a no-hitter,” he said.

Andrew and his family enjoyed doughnuts from Federal Donuts concession
Andrew and his family enjoyed doughnuts from Federal Donuts concession.

Citizens Bank Park certainly has the potential to become “Nationals Park North.” The next series in Philadelphia starts September 14.

Nats Fans on the Road: Tropicana Field

Tropicana Field is home to the Rays Touch Tank where fans can get a close look at rays. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Tropicana Field is home to the Rays Touch Tank where fans can actually touch  rays. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Nats Gallery Blog will let you “travel” with the Washington Nationals for the remainder of the season.  As a part of out “Nats Fans on the Road” series, we will interview Nationals fans who cheer on the Nationals when they sport their road uniforms.  We hope their stories will help you get a better understanding of how to best enjoy a future road trip to a Nationals away game.

The latest edition of “Nats Fans on the Road” takes us to St. Petersburg, Florida where the Nationals split a two game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.  We caught up with two fans this week—Scott and Courtney—who went to both games.

Scott

Scott got to enjoy his second and third game at Tropicana Field thanks to a well-timed road trip to Disney World to celebrate his daughter’s college graduation.  He had mixed feelings, as many fans do, about the league’s only domed stadium without a retractable roof.  “The stadium is odd,” he said, “It has no personality and AstroTurf should be banned.”  Scott did not have any objection to one of the stadium’s greatest benefits—its HVAC system—which spares fans from intense heat and humidity.

Fans have the opportunity to get very close to the players because the bullpens are positioned along the left and right field foul lines.  This gives fans great opportunities to catch balls (bring your glove) and strike up conversations with players.  Fans should consider bringing cameras and pens for autographs because you might find yourself in the same situation Scott was in on Monday night—chatting with Blake Treinen.

Courtney

The first game of the series coincided with game six of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning.  Courtney said that it seemed like only somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 fans actually made it to the ballpark even though the official attendance announced was 10,216 because fans may have chosen to watch the hockey game.  The paucity of Rays fans made the visiting Nationals fans seem more pronounced.  “When we were walking through the concourse, we actually spotted more Nats fans than Rays fans,” she said.  “It was a fun atmosphere.”

Visiting fans should definitely explore Tropicana Field on nights like Monday when the Nationals didn’t manage to score their first run until the ninth inning.  Fans can stop by the Rays Touch Tank in center field to pet rays for free.  A $5 donation gets fans the opportunity to feed the rays.  Courtney had a fun time at the tank, but cautioned other fans to be prepared for the crowds that flock the 10 minute petting sessions.

Ballpark food also varies in every city and it can have a significant impact on a fan’s experience.  Fans at Tropicana Field can enjoy meals from Tampa Bay companies like Outback Steakhouse and Papa John’s Pizza among other dining options.  Courtney opted for meals from Outback Steakhouse on both nights and was thrilled to enjoy the food from the comfort of her seat.

Courtney had a great time at Tropicana Field and said she would “definitely go back.”

Nats Fans on the Road: Yankee Stadium

Have you ever followed the Washington Nationals on the road?

We caught up with fans who watched the Washington Nationals play at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday Night. (Nationals Facebook)
We caught up with fans who watched the Washington Nationals play at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday Night. (Nationals Facebook)

Nats Gallery Blog will let you “travel” with the Nationals for the remainder of the season.  As a part of out “Nats Fans on the Road” series, we will interview Nationals fans who cheer on the Nationals when they sport their road uniforms.  We hope their stories will help you get a better understanding of how to best enjoy a future road trip to a Nationals away game.

The second installment of “Nats Fans on the Road” takes us to Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009, where the Nationals clinched the 2015 season series against the New York Yankees with a 5-4 11th inning victory on Wednesday afternoon.  We caught up with three fans—Luis, James and Kenny—who attended the Nationals 6-1 road loss on Tuesday night.

Luis

Tuesday night was his first game at Yankee Stadium since 2009 when he watched the Nationals, who finished with a dreadful 59-103 record, defeat the eventual World Series champions.

This was the second time Luis cheered on the Nationals at the current Yankee Stadium.
This was the second time Luis cheered on the Nationals at the current Yankee Stadium.

Luis explained that the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium changed since his first experience in 2009 when a fan tried to fight him after a victory.  This time the fans were more respectful.  “I think the team’s reputation has improved so opposing fans, even Yankees fans, show us more respect,” he said.  Yankees fans continue to be a rowdy group, Luis conceded, “but that’s Yankees fans.”  His seats in section 417 come highly recommended.

James

We caught up with James after he tweeted pictures of his view from the bleacher seats in right field that he bought for just $17.  James told us he bought the tickets even though he had heard that the “rowdiest” fans sit in the bleachers.

Like Luis, James told us about how he felt welcome as a fan rooting for the visiting team.  Yankees fans, he said, “cheered the whole time and showed their passion for the Yankees, but they never were disrespectful to us or anyone else.”   Yankee Stadium got his seal of approval.  “We would absolutely go back next time the Nats are there.”

Kenny

Kenny, a rising junior at The George Washington University, spent last summer in Washington and he frequented Nationals Park.  This summer he is home in New Jersey and he sent us a Snapchat to let us know he was at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.  There wasn’t a huge presence of Nationals fans at the game, he said, and the three Nationals fans sitting behind him in section 427 did not have much to cheer besides Harper’s fourth inning home run.  Kenny explained that Yankees fans may have been more polite to the visiting Nationals fans as a result of the “change in atmosphere” that came with the move to the new stadium.  He explained that “the atmosphere has become a lot less intense” as a ticket prices for the new stadium increased and because of an influx of tourists who come to games.

According to Kenny, here is how visiting Nationals fans can make the most of their trip to Yankee Stadium.

  • Stop by the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in center field for a panoramic view of the stadium.

    Visit the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar if you can get your hands on a Yankees Club Membership ticket. (Yankees.com)
    Visit the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar if you can get your hands on a Yankees Club Membership ticket. (Yankees.com)
  • Check out Monument Park in center field until 45 minutes prior to the first pitch.

    Eighteen players have their uniform numbers retired in Monument Park.  Bryce Harper paid respect to his childhood hero. (Harper's Instagram)
    Eighteen players have their uniform numbers retired in Monument Park. Bryce Harper paid respect to his childhood hero. (Harper’s Instagram)
  • Visit the Yankees Museum free of charge with your game ticket.

    Check out the
    Check out the “Ball Wall” in the New York Yankees Museum (Yankees.com)

Nats Fans on the Road: Wrigley Field

Have you ever followed the Washington Nationals on the road?

Nationals fans turned out to cheer on the team at Wrigley Field. (@Nationals)
Nationals fans turned out to cheer on the team at Wrigley Field. (@Nationals)

Nats Gallery Blog will let you “travel” with the Nationals for the remainder of the season.  As a part of out “Nats Fans on the Road” series, we will interview Nationals fans who cheer on the Nationals when they sport their road uniforms.  We hope their stories will help you get a better understanding of how to best enjoy a future road trip to a Nationals away game.

The first installment of “Nats Fans on the Road” takes us to Wrigley Field—the second-oldest major league ballpark.  Here are some exciting stories from three Nationals fans—Andy, Kari and Scott—who attended games this series.

Andy

We caught up with Andy on Wednesday night after he posted a picture on Twitter of a ball Tyler Moore threw to him after recording the final out of the first inning.

Andy took in his first game at The Friendly Confines just five rows above the visitor’s dugout.  The Chicago Cubs fans, he said, were “very easy going” and he received “only positive vibes” from Cubs fans as he sported his Nationals gear.  His seats at Wrigley Field come highly recommended.  “I’ve never felt closer to a game,” he said.  Andy came up just short of catching his second souvenir baseball of the night in the third inning when Yunel Escobar hit a foul ball right at him.  He settled for an ice pack.

Andy just missed nabbing his second baseball of the night.
Andy just missed nabbing his second baseball of the night.

Kari

Kari has been to every Nationals vs. Cubs series at Wrigley Field since 2012.  Cubs fans, she said, used to jive Nationals fans about “being Canadians.”  She said Cubs fans would also compare the Curly W to the Walgreens logo (who hasn’t heard that one before).  Now, Kari said, the jokes are not as frequent.  Kari who has lived in Arlington, Virginia since 2011, tweets using the Twitter handle @NatsLFBetty and she posted pictures from what she described as “the most perfect place to watch a baseball game”–the left field bleachers at Wrigley Field.

Nationals fans that head to Wrigley Field may get an opportunity to meet Nationals personnel.  This year she ran into General Manager Mike Rizzo who told her that he grew up a Cubs fan.  Last year she chatted with Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth while they were hitting in the batting cages under the bleachers.

Scott

Scott attended the first two games of the series.  A Chicagoan who has lived in Washington since 2009, Scott roots for the Nationals when they are not playing his hometown team.  He said he was surprised by the heavy turnout of Nationals fans on Memorial Day.  “It seemed like there were Curly W’s everywhere,” he said.  Scott compared the presence of Nationals fans to the size of the crowds that flock Wrigley Field from St. Louis to see the Cardinals play the Cubs.  He offered some advice for Nationals fans who want to get the most out of their experience at Wrigley Field.

1. Get to the park early for autographs as players are entering.

2. Check out the bars around the ballpark (Goose Island Wrigleyville, The Cubby Bear, Murphy’s Bleachers and Johnny O’Hagan’s)

3. If you sit in the bleachers, keep cheap balls on you.  “If you a homer you’ll be expected to throw it back—be ready to pull a switcher.”  What Nationals fan would really throw back a “Bryce Bomb.”