Teddy Stops by Pinstripes for Nationals Opening Day Viewing Party

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Teddy posed for photos with fans who attended Tuesday afternoon’s Opening Day Viewing Party.

Teddy, one of the beloved Washington Nationals racing president, stopped by Pinstripes on Tuesday afternoon for a sparsely attended, but memorable Opening Day viewing party.

The event was not highly publicized and was not even on my radar until Tuesday morning when it appeared as a sponsored link on my Facebook timeline. I shared the Facebook post and retweeted the Eventbrite page to @NatsGalleryBlog followers on Twitter to spread the word about the event.

The invitation promised happy hour specials, free bowling and bocce, Nationals prizes and a visit from the racing presidents.

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The availability of DC Brau, a District Drafts classic at Nationals Park, made choosing a happy hour beverage easy and the barbecue chicken pizza was very tasty.

Perhaps the most exciting moment of the afternoon, aside from Bryce Harper’s home run, was the visit from Teddy. Teddy made a grand entrance down a staircase and was extremely excited about Opening Day. He was so excited that he started running around the entrance to the bar, high fiving customers, and enthusiastically clapping his hands.

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Teddy stuck around for trivia which started after the second inning.  Prizes for correct answers included a Ryan Zimmerman autographed baseball, a Tanner Roark autographed red hat, and two pairs of Nationals tickets.

I answered the first question correctly and went home (err…to my 7:10pm class) with the autographed baseball.

Having viewing parties when the Nationals are on the road can be a great way to keep fans engaged and excited. If the events are more widely promoted within circles of Nationals fans, they can have the potential to be successful events.

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Do you want to know how you would have done during trivia? Here were some of the questions:

Q: What was the Nationals Spring Training record?

A: 19-4 (.826)

Where did the Nationals play when they first moved to Washington?

A: RFK Stadium

Max Scherzer threw two no-hitters during the 2015 season? How many pitchers have accomplished this feat?

A: Five

Q: What awards, besides MVP, did Bryce Harper win for his 2015 performance?

A: Silver Slugger Award and NL Hank Aaron Award

Nationals at 10: Newseum Exhibit

The Newseum attracted large crowds of Nationals fans over the weekend
The Newseum attracted large crowds over the weekend of fans who came to see the Nationals at 10 exhibit.

The Newseum opened a new exhibit in partnership with the Washington Nationals this weekend called “Nationals at 10: Baseball Makes News.”

Many Nationals fans got an advanced look at the exhibit highlighting 10 memorable media moments of the team’s first 10 years of history at an after-hours baseball themed party on Thursday.

We were happy to score discounted tickets this weekend for just $10.00 (plus tax) as part of an opening weekend promotion.  Visitors 18 and younger will be able to visit the Newseum free through Labor Day.  Adult tickets will cost $22.95 (plus tax).

The compact gallery exhibit, located on the second floor, was crowded with Nationals fans, on Sunday afternoon, who walked around the exhibit and reminisced with other fans dressed in Nationals caps and jerseys.  Fans joyfully recalled witnessing some moments while regretfully sharing stories about what they were doing during other moments.  Fan interaction was certainly an added bonus.

The multimedia exhibit, designed by Tyler Jordan, utilizes three walls of space, a large TV and sports memorabilia (jerseys, bats, balls, lineup cards etc.) on loan from the Nationals to tell the stories about the coverage of the games.  Adjacent to the main exhibit are smaller monitors that provide a more general history of baseball in Washington, D.C. though archival photographs depicting players and presidents.

The exhibit will be on display through November 29, but it’s not a problem if you don’t think you will be able to make it. We took plenty of photos!

  1. Baseball Returns to Washington (April 14, 2005)
Memorabilia: Lineup card from first game of the inaugural season
Memorabilia: Lineup card from first game of the inaugural season
  1. Last Game at RFK Stadium (September 23, 2007)
Memorabilia: Lineup card from the final game at RFK Stadium
Memorabilia: Lineup card from the final game at RFK Stadium
  1. First Game at Nationals Park (March 30, 2008)
Memorabilia: Home run bat and autographed ball from Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off home run
Memorabilia: Home run bat and autographed ball from Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off home run
  1. President Obama’s Opening Pitch (April 5, 2010)
Memorabilia: Baseball autographed by President Barack Obama, jersey signed by President Obama and a Nationals jacket
Memorabilia: Baseball autographed by President Barack Obama, jersey signed by President Obama and a Nationals jacket
  1. Strasburg’s sensational debut (June 8, 2010)
Memorabilia: Pitching rubber and rosin bag from Stephen Strasburg’s debut, front page of Washington Post sports section featuring Strasburg, Sports Illustrated magazine featuring Strasburg
Memorabilia: Pitching rubber and rosin bag from Stephen Strasburg’s debut, front page of Washington Post sports section featuring Strasburg, Sports Illustrated magazine featuring Strasburg
  1. Harper Makes Headlines (April 28, 2012)
Memorabilia; Autographed jersey from Bryce Harper’s debut; game used cap and helmet from Harper’s debut, game used base from Harper’s debut, “Clown Question” t-shirt, Sports Illustrated magazines featuring Harper, Washington Post sports section featuring Harper
Memorabilia; Autographed jersey from Bryce Harper’s debut; game used cap and helmet from Harper’s debut, game used base from Harper’s debut, “Clown Question” t-shirt, Sports Illustrated magazines featuring Harper, Washington Post sports section featuring Harper
  1. Teddy Wins! (October 3, 2012)
Memorabilia: Shoes worn by Teddy when he won his first President’s Race
Memorabilia: Shoes worn by Teddy when he won his first President’s Race
  1. Werth’s Walk-Off Home Run (October 11, 2012)
Memorabilia: Jayson Werth’s jersey from Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS
Memorabilia: Jayson Werth’s jersey from Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS
  1. Nats Clinch the NL East Title (September 16, 2014)
Memorabilia: Washington Post sports section featuring the Nationals celebration, champagne bottle and cork from the locker room celebration
Memorabilia: Washington Post sports section featuring the Nationals celebration, champagne bottle and cork from the locker room celebration
  1. Zimmermann’s No-Hitter (September 28, 2014)
Memorabilia: Home plate from the no-hitter
Memorabilia: Home plate from the no-hitter

Grandstand Seating: Just 5 Bucks

Fans  began to line up 3.5 hours early to purchase $5 tickets on Saturday.
Fans began to line up 3.5 hours early to purchase $5 tickets for Saturday’s 1.5 games.

The A-to-Z Guide for Nationals Park gives fans a very short description of Grandstand seating.

Seating in Sections 401 and 402 offers a great value at $5 per ticket for Regular, Prime and Marquee Games ($15 for Diamond Games). Grandstand seats go on sale at Nationals Park each gameday 2 1/2 hours prior to first pitch. Grandstand seats are limited to one (1) ticket per customer and the customer must be present at time of purchase. Upon purchasing Grandstand seating, fans must immediately enter Nationals Park.

There is very little information besides the above quotation about these seats available online.  I’ve been buying Grandstand seats for the last few years so this blog post should answer most questions you may have about “the cheap seats.”

The Grandstand seats are located in Sections 401 and for 402.
The Grandstand seats are located in Sections 401 and 402 and the seats are mostly covered.

What are the seats like?

Sections 401 and 402 are on the Gallery Level of Nationals Park and they are among the most under-appreciated seats.  These seats are on the shady side of the ballpark making them ideal for sunny days.  Almost all of the seats in these two sections are covered making them perfect for days when the forecast calls for rain.  They are also in close proximity to bathrooms and the escalator providing for a smooth exit from the ballpark.

Lines for Grandstand seating can form 3.5 hours before a weekend matchup.
Lines for Grandstand seating can form 3.5 hours before a weekend matchup.

How early do you need to be to get tickets?

The tickets go on sale 2.5 hours before first pitch.  How early you need to be is really a function of three factors—the day of the week, the opponent and whether there is a desired giveaway.

I’ve had virtually no issues getting a seat in the Grandstands during weekday games.  Last week, for example, I purchased a seat just one hour before the first pitch of the Tuesday, July 7 matchup between Max Scherzer and Johnny Cueto.  That night was also a 10-Year Tuesday Giveaway, but a lapel pin is less highly sought after than a Jayson Werth Gnome.

My luck was much different for the Friday, July 17 matchup against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  I arrived at the box office about one hour before the first pitch and was disappointed to find out that the Grandstand seats were all sold out.  The least expensive tickets available were $42.  Grandstand seats can sellout quickly especially if the Nationals a premiere opponent like the Dodgers.  It is recommended that you leave work early on Friday to get your tickets.

Weekend games typically draw the largest crowds.  Lines for Grandstand seats routinely start to form 3.5 hours before the first pitch, but you generally don’t need to get in line until 2.5 hours before the game.  One benefit of arriving early is that you can request a seating preference (like an aisle seat) at the box office.

Are seats always $5?  How often are tickets $15?  What’s the deal with playoff seats?

Grandstand seats are almost always $5.
Grandstand seats are almost always $5.

Grandstand seats are almost always $5.

This season there were only three “Diamond Games” when Grandstand seats were $15—Opening Day and both regular season Yankees games.

Unfortunately, Grandstand seats are not available for $5 during the playoffs.  Expect to pay around the same price as an Upper Gallery seat during the playoffs—around $50 per ticket including fees.

We hope you found this helpful.  See you in the Grandstand!

Update: The Nationals have been selling 1,500 Standing Room Only tickets for the regular season games. Those seats go on sales as soon as all physical tickets are sold, including unsold tickets and they are available at the box office if they do not sell out online. Last season, postseason Standing Room Only seats sold out completely online so box office sold nothing on the day of the game.

The Three Keys to Signature Sunday

Aaron Barrett signed autographs for fans before the game on Saturday (Nationals Facebook)
Aaron Barrett signed autographs for fans before the game on Saturday. (Nationals Facebook)

UPDATE September 8, 2015: Autograph vouchers are now distributed in front of Section 103.

The Washington Nationals have so many gracious players who sign autographs for fans before games.  This year we have seen Bryce Harper, Michael Taylor, Blake Treinen and Tyler Moore sign routinely before the start of most games.

One way to improve your odds of going home with an autograph is to head to Nationals Park for Signature Sunday.  The concept of Signature Sunday has not changed much since I first started going to games in 2010.  Two players will sign autographs above the Nationals dugout one hour and ten minutes before the start of the game.

Only a limited number of autograph vouchers are distributed each game in front of Section 103.  If you follow these three guidelines, I can almost guarantee you will have a successful Signature Sunday.

1. Arrive Early

Try to arrive at least 15 minutes before the gates open for Signature Sunday.
Try to arrive at least 15 minutes before the gates open for Signature Sunday.

Get to Nationals Park early.  The center field gate opens two and a two and a half hours before the first pitch.  Try to arrive at least 15 minutes before the gate opens to secure one of the first spots in the security line.  We arrived at 1:15 p.m. for the 4:05 p.m. game on June 7 and were among the first 20 season plan holders to enter the stadium.

2. Head Straight to Section 103

Head straight to section 109 or 140 to pick up the autograph voucher(s).
Head straight to section 109 or 140 to pick up the autograph voucher(s).

Before you get lunch at Hard Times Cafe or Shawafel, head directly to Section 103 to get an autograph voucher.  If you are one of the first fans in the ballpark, you can get an autograph voucher for both players.

3. Get comfortable

There is no need to immediately get in the Signature Sunday autograph lines . Enjoy the ballpark.
There is no need to immediately get in the Signature Sunday autograph lines.  Enjoy the ballpark.

There is no need to immediately head over to the lines in front of the Nationals dugout. Find a nice place to watch players warm up while you are waiting for the autograph session to start.  You will have plenty of time to take pictures and get autographs from other players.  From our experience, the best places to get autographs are in sections 114/115 and sections 131/132.

Three players for the Chicago Cubs, including Joe Ross, signed autographs on Sunday afternoon.
Three players for the Chicago Cubs, including Joe Ross, signed autographs on Sunday afternoon.

Relief pitchers, bench players and players who have the day off are the players who generally sign on Signature Sunday.  Here is a list of the players who I know have signed on Signature Sunday:

  • Joe Ross (2015)
  • Taylor Hill (2015)
  • Sammy Solis (2015)
  • Matt Grace (2015)
  • Matt Thornton (2014)
  • Michael Taylor (2014)
  • Denard Span (2013)
  • Kurt Suzuki (2013)
  • Taylor Jordan (2013)

Good Luck! Tweet us your Signature Sunday photos! Follow us: @NatsGalleryBlog