WASHINGTON — Though this city's beloved "Mr. National" formally hung up his baseball cleats back in February, the Washington Nationals made it official this weekend, honoring the 17-year career of Ryan Zimmerman.
Ryan Zimmerman's number 11 jersey was retired before Saturday's game against division rivals, the Phillies. It marks the first time the team has retired a player's jersey, befitting for the man who represented so many firsts for the franchise. From being the team's first-ever draft pick in 2005 to playing a key role in the team's first World Series win in 2019, "Employee #11" certainly gave the District plenty to celebrate.
"Although my baseball career has come to an end, my family and I will continue to be heavily involved in the DMV community," Zimmerman wrote in a goodbye letter to his fans after announcing his retirement. "You have given so much to us over the past 17 years; it is now time for us to give back to you ... So this is not a goodbye but more of a 'see you around.'"
The Nationals kicked off "Ryan Zimmerman Weekend" Friday with t-shirt giveaways and several live Q&As with some of Zimmerman's former teammates. The festivities continued Saturday leading up to the jersey retirement.
- Photo activations throughout the ballpark, including a three-dimensional No. 11.
- Chalk artist will sketch a rendition of Zimmerman’s last home game in the Center Field Plaza.
- Kids 2006 Ryan Zimmerman Jersey T-Shirt Giveaway: first 10,000 fans in attendance (ages 12 & under) will receive
- Zimmerman’s #11 will be retired at 3:10 p.m.
Former plays expected to appear:
- Ian Desmond
- Danny Espinosa
- Adam LaRoche
- Jordy Mercer
- Daniel Murphy
- Laynce Nix
- Brian Schneider
- Jayson Werth
- Gio Gonzalez
- Jordan Zimmermann
"Your genuine nature and your humility, you've endeared yourself to a generation of fans, to an organization and to all your teammates," Laynce Nix said in a tribute video to Zimmerman.
Nix played with Zimmerman for one year in 2011.
"I want to thank you for showing me how to do things the right way on and off the field," Jordan Zimmerman, who played with the Nats from 2009-2015, added.
Zimmerman was the first-ever Major League Baseball draft pick for the Washington Nationals franchise back in 2005 after their move from Montreal. Seventeen years, two All-Star appearances and one World Series championship later, he never wore the jersey of another team, cementing him forever in the DMV with the nickname, "Mr. National."
Zimmerman was selected fourth overall in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Virginia and eventually became Washington’s all-time leader in nearly every offensive category. He hit .277 with 417 doubles, 22 triples, 284 home runs, 1,061 RBI, 646 walks, 43 stolen bases and 963 runs scored in 1,799 career games. He recorded 1,846 hits while posting a career .341 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage.
He retired as the franchise's all-time leader in home runs, runs scored, hits, RBIs, total bases and total games played, playing third base for 10 years until switching to first base in 2015.
The franchise player was also known widely for his ability to make clutch moments happen, including a walk-off home run in the inaugural game at Nationals Park in the Navy Yard neighborhood of southeast D.C. back in 2008. In his career, he would total 11 walk-off home runs, according to baseball statistics kept by the league.
Of course, it was the 2019 World Series Championship run that highlights Zimmerman's career, coming up clutch again with a 3-run home run in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers to keep the hopes of a championship alive.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared April 30 "Ryan Zimmermann Day" in the Commonwealth, as his alma mater, UVA, retired his number 11 jersey. He became the first University of Virginia player to have his jersey retired, at a sold-out game.
"This city means a lot to me, and there's a lot of people here that probably watched me play," Zimmerman said before the retirement ceremony. "If you enjoy the places you are like I did here then you have friendships and relationships that last your whole life."