I realize this is long overdue. I wanted to save my last weekend at RFK to combine with the end of the season Phillies trip, but I never anticipated I'd wait this long to finally sit down and reflect on such a wonderful summer.
For now, I'm hesitant to be too emotional; it's hard to convey how much this summer meant to me in words. I looked back at our first post – dated April 4. I remember drafting it while casually listening to one of my last lectures as a grad student. I spent March following the spring training games and counting down the days till the exhibition game in Norfolk. Baseball season had finally arrived. I tried in that post to explain what baseball meant to me. Looking back, I had no clue what it would end up meaning to me after just one season of being a serious fan.
250 posts and 80+ games later, I do know what it means and I know why so many of us live and breathe it. As far as rules and stats go, I learned a lot this summer. We didn't always get it right. At times, we all disagreed. That's life and that's baseball. But we did learn and we appreciated the challenges, debates and disagreements.
This summer, we learned about the game, the team, this great organization and this blogging community. We've had the honor and privilege of meeting so many of you this summer. Please know how much we appreciate what is happening here in Washington. Many of you have warmly welcomed us into this big family. Sitting through the final series in Philly and watching the sold-out crowd go crazy with every pitch, it was electrifying. I know we'll have that soon in Washington and I can't wait to be there with you for it.
More importantly, I can assure you, we've all learned a lot about ourselves. Sure, I've watched these other ladies grow in their knowledge and love of the game. But there's something bigger than that at work.
For me, this summer and this game brought about a number of challenges. It's funny that baseball, a way to escape life and relax, can became part of your life in lots of ways. Through a lot of twists and turns, I had two other girls with heart to get me back to that park, night after night to make dozens of new memories. All in all, I must say that I have only gained a deeper respect for the Washington Nationals – and all of their hard work, talent and heart.
Most of my closest friends couldn't join us at the park each night, but they certainly put up with me and, in the process, learned a lot about baseball themselves. Thank you for joining us when you could and for understanding that I'm a better friend (and daughter) in the off-season.
On that note, I can't believe how many wonderful, amazing people I have met this season. I have never felt so much like I had a family away from home until this summer. Doug, Jeanne, Larry, Carlos, Michael, Chuck, Marty, Laura, Joe, Bob, Debbi, Antonio, Cathy, Joe, Jimmy, Coach…and countless others purposely or mistakenly left off this list, you know who you are. You've helped to make this the summer of my life. Thank you.
On that Sunday, I left Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium with a bittersweet feeling. Having been to PNC Park so many times, I am so very excited about the new Nationals park. I know how tough it was for people to say goodbye to Three Rivers Stadium, but PNC is so beautiful. I know I can handle this transition because, unlike some of you, I have no memories of baseball here in Washington as a child. I can appreciate your rich baseball history, but my first trip to RFK was in 2005 to see the Nats.
That's not to say I won't miss that place with all my heart. I was there for so many of the most important plays of this summer and last. Sure, I saw Soriano steal his 40th base last year, but that was nothing compared to Zimmerman's late night Mother's Day walk-off grand slam, Austin's in the park homerun. There are so many memories that will always be part of RFK's charm. So will its people. I was so comfortable there, so at home. I can only hope the new park will be as wonderful, as memorable, and as special as this summer of 2007 at RFK Stadium.
Be glad there's one place in the world
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came;
You want to go where people know,
People are all the same;
You want to go where everybody knows your name...