Maybe it was the brisk weather, perhaps it was the sense of decisiveness, or it could have been the "Natitude," but Nationals Park on Friday rippled with unprecedented energy for the final game of the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals match up.
Thousands of fans filed into the gleaming stadium long before the first pitch, most of them wrapped in red sweatshirts, scarves, and gloves to fight off the chilly night air and show their support for a team even the most devoted of fans wondered would ever make it to the postseason, let alone Game 5.
"After the first couple of seasons I didn't think they'd be here this soon," said Melissa Johnston, 43, of Woodbridge. "For me this is the greatest experience, an historical moment."
Friday's game marked the tiebreaker for the Nationals and Cardinals, and the third postseason game played in the District in nearly 80 years. For the four-year-old stadium, it was the first time hosting a playoff game ever.
A standing room only crowd began cheers of "let's go Nats" long before the first pitch was thrown, and when Nats pitcher Gio Gonzalez walked to the mound, chants of "Gio! Gio! Gio!" reverberated around the stadium.
Along the pavilions, the smell of hot dogs, French fries, and beer hung in the air as fans huddled against the cold. But for one die-hard, khaki shorts were a necessity to show off his finest feature.
"I got this in 2005," said 71-year-old Tenleytown Louis Wolf as he hiked up his left pants' leg to show a prosthetic leg, the thigh painted a bright red and white Nationals' "W."
The former Philadelphia Phillies fan said he began following the Nationals as soon as they came to the District, and he's never looked back since.
Asked what he thought the outcome would be for Friday's game, he said "winning. It's gotta be."
"I'm already thinking about the World Series," he added, "but it's one game at a time."
For Jane Talbot and Ernie Page, their minds were already on the good vibes from the Nationals reaching the hockey rink.
"A rising tide lifts all boats," Mr. Page, a Woodbridge resident and season ticket holder for the Washington Capitals said.
"Because of the NHL lockout we were physically forced to come to the baseball game," he added with a laugh.
Ms. Talbot said she normally listens to baseball in the background, and the Nationals this season had been "pretty exciting."
As for her prediction on the night's outcome, she said: "Everything has its time."
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.