- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 27, 2019

Twice per year, Garner Morgan and his brother used to pile in the back of a station wagon as their father would drive them from southern Maryland to watch the Washington Senators. Morgan’s father would purchase tickets for a few dollars to sit in the upper section of Griffith Stadium, and then later, RFK Stadium. His love of baseball started in those days.

Decades later, the 71-year-old sat rows up from the first base line at Nationals Park this weekend with his own son, Luke, to experience the first World Series game in the District in 86 years.

They, like many of the spectators on hand to cheer on their beloved Nationals, have a bond that was strengthed further by their mutual love of the sport.

QUIZ: Can you pass this World Series trivia test?

Even when the Nationals dropped two games on Friday and Saturday — guaranteeing the series moves back to Houston on Tuesday for Game 6 — fans could still proudly say they attended the Fall Classic. Baseball, after all, is a sport passed down generation to generation. From fans to the players, their passion for the game started somewhere, usually at home.

“Real special moment,” Morgan said. “It only comes along once in a lifetime, so I’m glad we’re able to share it.”

Starting young

Eliza Warren keeps score by hand for every Nationals game she attends.

The 13-year-old is a diehard baseball fan, having gotten into the game from her father. Together, the Warrens split season tickets with a group of families, so they’re at Nationals Park often. Mitch Warren, Eliza’s father, was raised a Philadelphia Phillies fan, but switched over when the Nationals arrived in 2005.

“I was just telling her to remember this,” Mitch Warren said, “because she’ll be telling her children and grandchildren about it.”

The District, of course, had to wait 33 years for baseball to come back to the city, after the Senators relocated to become the Texas Rangers in 1972. The departure meant people like Lorne Davidson, who was born 1970, grew up without a local team to root for. Instead, he cheered for the Rangers and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But Davidson still loved the sport, specifically how there’s a “game within the game,” he said. The Loudoun County resident recalled how passionate his mother, grandfather and uncle were toward baseball when he was a child, causing him to become a fan.

In Mike Rizzo’s case, the Nationals general manager grew up in a household where his father, Phil, was a longtime minor leaguer — and later a scout for teams like the California Angels. So, it was only natural Rizzo, a Chicago native who lived blocks from Wrigley Field, would follow in his father’s footsteps.

Standing near the dugout prior to Game 3, Rizzo joked the tape recorder in front of him wouldn’t have enough hours to fill when asked about his father’s influence.

“My dad is the reason I’m here,” Rizzo said. “He was the most important part of my career.”

A parent’s impact

Even in the heat of the World Series, when the Astros and the Nationals have gone back and forth, the players still make time for their families.

On Friday, Asdrúbal Cabrera had his 12-year-old son out on the field with him when the Nationals’ second baseman went through batting practice. Cabrera’s son flew in from Florida to be with him, as well. Left fielder Juan Soto’s family has traveled for each of the Nationals’ games this series, and were in attendance this weekend.

Before he started Game 4, Astros rookie pitcher Jose Urquidy had coffee with his mother, Alma, in the morning. The 24-year-old was nervous for later that evening, but soon received words of encouragement from his mother.

“My mom is someone that I talk to a lot and obviously she helped me out,” said Urquidy, who threw five scoreless innings in Houston’s 8-1 win.

Parents can also play a large role in teaching their children about baseball itself. Nationals starter Patrick Corbin revealed in an interview with MASN this summer that his father was the one who taught him how to grip his signature slider.

New generations

Since bringing baseball back to the District, the Nationals have built a new generation of fans. Each World Series game was sold out this weekend with fans paying exuberant prices to get in.

Don Neireiter paid $817 a seat — before fees — to attend Game 3 with his daughter, Tammy.

Many this weekend experienced attending a World Series game for the first time. The last Fall Classic to take place in Washington happened in 1933. Beyond that, the next closest city to go to the World Series was the Baltimore Orioles — but that last occurred in 1983.

Garner Morgan was actually at Camden Yards for that series with his father. He told his son Luke that if he ever got a chance to go to another World Series, they’d go together — on one condition.

“He has to buy me a hat,” Morgan said. “My dad bought me a hat at that (Orioles) game. I still have it.”

⦁ David Driver contributed to this report.

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