The man who hit the walk-off home run at the first regular-season game at Nationals Park stood on the field with goggles around his neck and soaked it all in. That first night became about Ryan Zimmerman, but he was trying to make sure this celebration of the Washington Nationals as National League East champions wasn’t about him.
“A lot of people have asked me that, and to be honest with you, this team and the guys here are such a team that I really haven’t thought about anything for myself,” Zimmerman said. “It’s more all these guys here and a lot of other guys have been here for a while, and this whole year was a huge group effort. Everyone came together and everyone did so many things to help us get to where we’re at now that I haven’t even thought about me or myself or how long I’ve been here because all these other guys deserve it just as much as I do.”
The team’s longest tenured major league player, Zimmerman endured parts of seven losing seasons, yet decided to stick around for the long haul regardless. He’s signed through 2019 with a team option for 2020.
“The odds were in my favor that I was going to win at some point here, right?” the Gold Glove third baseman said. “I love this town, obviously. They gave me a chance; took a chance on me at a young age and let me come right in and put me right in the middle of it. For a team to take a chance on me like that, I felt obligated and thought I should stay here give them what they gave me, which was my career.”
It’s a career that now includes being part of a division championship and, very soon, the playoffs. But for Zimmerman this is about the franchise more than its most prominent star.
“I think they did a great job. They really turned around a farm system that was one of the worst to one of the best, and a lot of those guys have helped us this year when we were injured,” he said. “For all the things that we’ve been through, all the things that this organization’s been through, to be right here right now, is pretty impressive.”