Inside the stadium, fans began their standing ovation long before the teams took the field. Presidential mascot Teddy Roosevelt secured his second win during the mascot race, thanks to some fancy dance moves and quick thinking.
Decked out in red beads, a red Nationals shirt and a red hat, Shellie Bowers Jr. would not have stood out in the crowd had it not been for his handwritten sign proudly listing his “Bucket List.” Among the four items on the list — three of which had already been checked — were to bring baseball back to the District, adjust his “Natitude,” and win the 2012 National League Eastern Division.
“I used to take a trip up to Baltimore to get my baseball fix,” the 49-year-old Tenleytown resident said. “I got to go to the opening game [for the Nationals first season] at RFK stadium, and I cried like a baby.”
Mr. Bowers said that after last season, he wasn’t sure about the future of the team. This season, he said, “It’s terrific I get a chance to see playoff baseball in the city.”
All that’s left, he said, is the final box on his bucket list to be checked: the 2012 World Series.
The early-afternoon game — which had displeased some D.C. workers, who had hoped to have to leave work only a few minutes early to make the game, had it been a 4 p.m. start — seemed to benefit many parents who came with their children.
Richmond resident Jim Murphy said his 10-year-old son had emailed his teacher about missing class for a day.
As for his 12-year-old boy, “We’re thinking up a story for him,” Mr. Murphy said with a laugh.
Also enjoying a day at the game was Libby Crangle and her young daughters, ages 8 and 11.
“We looked ahead to the test and homework schedule,” Ms. Crangle said, so the girls could take the day off from school.
The Ashburn resident said she wasn’t worried about her girls missing a day of class.
“This is one of life’s experiences,” she said.
Nora Robertson, a 54-year-old La Plata, Md., resident and season ticket holder, said she was “very nervous” about the upcoming games, but was proud of her team, regardless of the outcome.
“They were the division champs, and that was my expectation,” she said, her Nationals earrings twinkling in the sun. “Everything after that is just gravy.”