By Corrinne Lennox
In 2005, Mary Jane Phillips of Riderwood’s Village Square, along with countless other D. C. area residents, discovered that despite the grumblings of naysayers – it will never happen, don’t get your hopes up – Washington would indeed have a baseball team. The team was named the Washington Nationals. At Riderwood, Mary Jane along with several baseball-fan friends decided to devise a cheering-on plan.
The kick-off meeting of the Riderwood Nationals Fan Club was held in the Town Center Pub nine years later on March 28, 2014. Nineteen resident attendees swapped baseball stories, learned about upcoming baseball plans for Riderwood, and played baseball bingo, with winners receiving Nationals mementos.
Also, in 2014, the Washington Nationals Fan Club made its first appearance at the Riderwood Opportunities Fair. The Fair brought together those interested in Washington Nationals baseball with those that had been devoted to the Washington Senators for decades. A steady stream of visitors stopped by the booth during the fair.
One of the greatest highlights for the club, was seeing pitcher Jordan Zimmermann throw the first no-hitter in Nationals franchise history at Nationals Park on September 28, 2014.
Early in its existence, the Riderwood Nationals Fan Club had written to general manager, Mike Rizzo, with suggestions for improving the handicapped entrance to the ball park and included a group picture of the group. The club received thanks for their support of the Nationals from the office of Mr. Rizzo and received Nationals mementos for the club’s prizes. And when the fan club members returned to the Park the following year, they saw that the handicapped entrance had been modified both with art work and with an event TV.
Beginning in the summer of 2014, the group has shown several Nationals games on the big screen in the air-conditioned Encore Theater at Lakeside Commons when it was too hot for a trip to the Park.
By the start of the 2016 Nationals season, the number of Nationals fans at Riderwood had nearly tripled; by 2017 it had quadrupled. With member support, the Fan Club secured a new venue to accommodate the club’s growth: the Chesapeake Room in Montgomery Station.
Now, in 2018, the Washington Nationals Fan Club at Riderwood continues to make periodic trips to games in a Riderwood bus. Club members enjoy socials with prizes at baseball bingo and watch selected games in the Encore Theater (Upcoming games to be shown this summer are July 29 vs the Marlins and August 12 vs the Mets). The Club’s official motto, “Cheering the Washington Nationals to glory,” is still going strong at Riderwood!