Decked out in signature red, curly Ws and, yes, shark fins, thousands of fans streamed to downtown D.C. to give the Washington Nationals a jubilant hero’s welcome after their 2019 World Series win.
The victory parade kicked off at 2 p.m. as open-air double-decker buses carrying team members cruised down Constitution Avenue along the north side of the National Mall, culminating in a rally on Pennsylvania Avenue where players, coaches and other dignitaries gave elated and emotional speeches to a sea of red-clad fans.
“We are the District of Champions,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said, adding: “This championship was delivered by a team that is a true representation of D.C. They don’t give up. They dance with joy and they believe in each other.” Referencing their underdog standing going into the postseason, she added, “This team went away and won four games in the World Series with grit, determination and a whole lot of fun.”
Manager Dave Martinez pulled his players up to flank behind him when he was called on to deliver a speech. “While I talk right here, I want my boys up here, too,” he said.
He thanked the enthusiastic fans who packed Nationals Park for watch parties as the battled the Astros on their home turf in Houston. “You know that means to us when we’re trying to play and stay in the fight?” he said. “That was huge.”
Mentioning his outburst at an umpire after a controversial call in Game 6, which resulted in his ejection from the game, he said: “You don’t have to tell me to stay in the fight. I’m gonna fight. I’m gonna stick up for these boys because they stuck up for me all year long.”
After a shaky start in the spring, there were calls for the team to sack Martinez as manager.
“They were shoveling dirt on him in May,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said of Martinez during the rally Saturday. “Now look at him: He’s the world champ.”
Parade full of memorable moments
The team’s victory lap through downtown D.C. earlier in the day was full of memorable moments.
Roaring crowds intermittently broke out into the unofficial team anthem of “Baby Shark” as they greeted many of the buses carrying players. That included the bus carrying outfielders Adam Eaton and Gerardo Parra, the latter of whom started the “Baby Shark” craze when he chose the kid-friendly ditty as his walk-up music to please his young daughter.
— jonwarner (@jonwarnerWTOP) November 2, 2019
Starting pitcher Max Scherzer, alongside his wife and children, was later spotted performing the trademark Baby Shark chomp from the top of his bus, before he clambered atop the bus holding up a special Nats-themed WWE champion’s belt for the crowd.
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) November 2, 2019
Atop his bus, shortstop Trea Turner popped the cork on a bottle of Champagne during a live interview with NBC Washington. “It just never ends. There’s people for miles and miles,” he said, surveying the crowd. “It’s incredible.”
Relief pitcher and noted Star Wars fan Sean Doolittle flashed his lightsaber for the crowd.
Photos posted to the Nationals official Twitter account show the moment Martinez jumped off his bus to take a picture with a World War II veteran celebrating his 100th birthday.
1. Thank you for your service, sir.
2. The last time DC had a World Series champion, that gentleman was 5 years old. https://t.co/jzjkhEIYwZ
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) November 2, 2019
The Nationals’ victory against the Houston Astros marked D.C.’s first World Series win since 1924.
Crowds began gathering downtown early Saturday morning to claim prime spots along the parade route. Two fans decked out in Nats gear even got engaged amid the jubilant crowds waiting for the parade to start.
— LisaWTOP (@LisaWTOP) November 2, 2019
Nationals team members began arriving in buses about an hour before the parade began, wearing the lucky navy-blue threads they started wearing as they first started steamrolling to victory in the postseason.
There were some logistical challenges for travelers. Heavy crowds temporarily closed Metro’s National Archives stop a few different times Saturday afternoon.There was at least one arrest after an exuberant fan stripped naked along the parade route. He was quickly surrounded by police.
SOURCE: WTOP, Jack Moore