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Nats fans asked to arrive early Monday

- The Washington Times - Monday, April 5, 2010

With President Obama throwing out the first pitch before Monday's season opener against the Phillies, the Nationals are encouraging fans to arrive early due to the sellout crowd and increased security.

Gates open at 10 a.m. at Nationals Park, and team officials recommend arriving at least 90 minutes before the scheduled 1:05 p.m. first pitch.

Fans are also advised that the Nats Express service, which allowed fans to park in the RFK Stadium lot, has been discontinued this season. Fans looking for discounted parking can park for $5 in lot HH, near South Capitol Street and I-395, or lot W for $10, along 7st St. and M St. SW, or can opt to take public transporation to the game.

The team also is holding back 400 $5 tickets for sale until 10 a.m. Monday for fans who want to see Washington's 2010 retooled lineup face the two-time National League defending champions from Philadelphia with their new ace, Roy Halladay, taking the mound.

Obama's first pitch will mark the 49th time in Washington baseball history the commander-in-chief has done the ceremonial duty on Opening Day in nearly 100 years, as President William Howard Taft started the tradition on April 14, 1910.

Obama also will become the 13th different president to throw out a first pitch on Opening Day, and will mark the third time a president has opened the season for the current version of the Nationals who relocated from Montreal in 2005. President Bush threw out the first pitch at the franchise's first regular-season game at RFK Stadium in 2005, and the first regular-season game at Nationals Park in 2008.