Nats Caravan, Day 4: Doing It For the Kids (with photos)

Posted by Dave Nichols | Sunday, January 31, 2010 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Nationals, and legions of fans, braved the elements today to participate in the last day of the Nats Winter Caravan.

The day started at Children's National Medical Center, where a roster full of Nationals met with the children at the center, doing arts and crafts, face painting and helping lift spirits.

Next on the agenda, after trudging through the snow, was the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex, where the Nationals announced a partnership with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, naming the organization the recipient of the 2010 Baseball Equipment Drive.
The Drive is held in partnership with with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, which will provide the recipients with a $5,000 grant to purchase new equipment.

"The Washington Nationals strive to create longstanding partnerships which encourage participation in youth baseball and softball and improve the health and well-being of the citizens of the Washington, DC Metropolitan area," said Nationals Vice President of Communications & Community Relations Chartese Burnett.

When asked what it meant to her personally, Burnett said, "It means a great deal.  To be able to do a dedicated effort in Prince George's County means a lot.  To have a comprehensive partnership, to be able to give a grant to a boys and girls club, to be able to have one of the organizations be the recipient of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund baseball equipment drive, it just means so much to me because I know of the opportunities we'll provide in Prince George's County."
"While there's a lot of affluence in Prince George's County, there are also a lot of needs here."

The players felt the much the same way.
"It's a lot of fun, especially getting a chance to see all the little leaguers at the press conference today," pitcher Craig Stammen said.  "Getting to meet them, knowing that they have a dream in their mind that it is possible for them to make the big leagues, and having this partnership gives them a little bit more of an opportunity."

Ryan Zimmerman had a good perspective on the event.  "Obviously we're very lucky to do what we do and we enjoy playing in this city, to come out and talk to kids, hopefully they get a message out of it, something they'll use later in life as they grow up.  You know, it's important to us."
Nyjer Morgan felt is was an honor to be asked to participate.  "Just being able to come out in the community and meet the fans, it's us giving back.  You always have to think about your community and always have to give back."

After the event in Landover wrapped up, the players and front office staff got back on the buses to head over to Montgomery County to sign autographs at White Flint Mall.  Mother nature, and snarling traffic, turned a 20 minute drive into a two and a half hour marathon.

Once they reached their destination, they signed for every single person in line.

Sunday, the players and team staff will once again host fans at Nationals Park for NatsFest.  It will be another opportunity for fans to reach out and touch their heroes; to get an autograph or a picture, or just to say "hi", and everyone will be wishing for the day when the field will be a bright green instead of covered with snow, and skies will be clear and warm instead of gray and blustery.

Players who participated in today's activities, in addition to the ones quoted above, were Brian Bruney, Matt Capps, Tyler Clippard, Adam Dunn, John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Josh Willingham, Manager Jim Riggleman, and broadcaster Rob Dibble.

**For additional photos, please see here.**