WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Major League Baseball announced on Monday that the District will host the 2018 All-Star game at Nationals Park.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed the news in an Opening Day press conference packed with local and national reporters, District politicians, team employees and the franchise’s principle owners, the Lerner Family.
“Everybody at Major League Baseball is thrilled that the nation’s capital will be the host to the 89th mid-summer classic,” Manfred said. “The game will take place a decade after the beautiful park here was opened. Nationals Park has already hosted [postseason games]. But we think the All-Star game will be another opportunity to showcase this fantastic facility.”
Mark Lerner joked it took “about 10 minutes” after Major League Baseball awarded the Lerner Family ownership of the Nats on May, 4, 2006, that he began lobbying former commissioner Bud Selig for an all-star game. The process took over a decade.
The team move from antiquated RFK Stadium after the 2007 season and began play at Nationals Park in 2008. Lerner still maintains that Ryan Zimmerman’s game-winning home run against the Atlanta Braves to open Nationals Park is his greatest thrill as an owner. But an all-star game will rank high on that list, too.
As Lerner spoke, his mother, Annette, sitting in the front row at the press conference, wiped away a tear. She and husband, Ted Lerner, 89, were both in attendance. Nationals Park will celebrate its 10th season when the All-Star game arrives in 2018. The organization found out from Selig last May that it would definitely host an all-star game and from Manfred “within the last few months” that it would happen in 2018.
“Time has passed, but still it’s a great day,” Mark Lerner said.
The District has hosted an all-star game four times prior – 1937, 1956, 1962 and 1969. Mark Lerner said as a boy he attended the two latter games played at RFK Stadium. Lerner joked that Selig would see him approaching at league events in recent years and simply say “I know.” The topic was almost always about hosting an all-star game.
The 2018 game will be the fourth in a row hosted by a National League city as Major League Baseball abandons its rotation system with American League cities. The American League will technically be the “home” team in 2018 and will bat last.
On Monday, the Nats hosted the New York Mets on Opening Day before a sellout crowd with new star pitcher Max Scherzer making his first start since signing a free-agent contract with the team in January. So began a season of high expectations with World Series hopes. But, for a few moments at least, Washington had the future to look forward to as well.
“I keep referring to the All-Star game, but it’s really is a weeklong celebration of baseball,” Mark Lerner said. “I know that Washington will be one of the best host cities because nothing could be more fitting, exciting or appropriate than hosting the All Star game for the national pastime in the nation’s capital.”
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