(from USA Today, September 17, 2013) Just 24 hours removed from the mass shooting at Navy Yard, a secure military facility in Washington DC, the MLB returned to the nation’s capital. After yesterday’s game between the Braves and the hometown Nationals was canceled because of the ballpark’s close proximity to the shooting, the two teams took the field for a double-header this evening. For warm-ups, the Nationals wore a special Navy ball cap that was presented to them in the clubhouse by Navy Admiral and Vice Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Sandy Winnefeld, to honor the victims. Also, the entire stadium observed an extended moment of silence prior to the national anthem.
Emotions were running high in the stadium, but some of the players were able to keep a cool head and focus on the task at hand. Nationals shortstop, Ian Desmond, was excited to be back on the field. He was even quoted saying, “No disrespect to any of the family members or any of the people that were lost, but once you’re out on that ballfield, I mean if even if there’s a tragedy in your own family, that whole ballfield is like a sanctuary. Once you’ve got cleats on it’s pretty hard to think about anything else.”
The Nationals made it hard for the crowd to think of anything else also. Washington rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 9th and had the crowd on their feet to complete a comeback and win the game 6-5. The team ran onto the field in celebration, giving the city something to smile about even if only for a brief moment. Denard Span, who was responsible for the game-winning hit, summed up the afternoon in his interview after the game. “It was good for us to get a win, for the city, good for the fans.” Span said, “Yesterday was just such a tragic day to where it felt good to get a win for our fan base.”
Moving forward, the Nationals and the city of Washington will continue to mourn the losses of the Navy Yard shooting, but an emotional win just might help move the process along.