Zim Sends Capacity Crowd Home Happy
Ryan Zimmerman hits a homerun at the bottom of the ninth to beat the Atlanta Braves with a score of 3-2 during Opening Day at the Nationals Park in Washington, DC on March 30, 2008. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
Washington, DC--Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman homered off of Atlanta Braves reliever Peter Moylan in the bottom of the ninth inning to deliver a 3-2 win for the Nats in the inaugural game in Nationals Park.

The ecstatic crowd reveled in the moment, which was the cherry on the sundae that this day provided the baseball fans of the district.  At 3:30 pm the lines were already dozens deep at the center field gate waiting to get their first glimpse at the new ballpark in southeast.  As fans in red sweatshirts and team jackets filtered through security--necessary since the President threw out the first pitch--you could hear folks praising the look, design and feel of the new stadium.
There were families anxious to see the view from their new seats, generations passing traditions from Griffith Stadium to Robert F. Kennedy Stadium to the shiny new Nationals Park.  People came via the Metro, took the shuttle from RFK, parked in their season ticket holder parking lots--even rode their bikes or took taxis.  But they all came to see the new park, new field, new larger-than-life high definition scoreboard--oh, and actually watch a baseball game.

The afternoon and evening had a few hiccups with long lines for food and other concessions, crowded security lines and yet unfinished amenities, including television monitors not in place, signs directing fans to non-existing ATMs and stadium workers that were still feeling around the new park themselves.  But most of the complaints were taken in stride with patrons understanding the newness of the place and realizing that some kinks would need to be worked out.

While the biggest cheers were reserved for Zimmerman's game-winner, there were boos for the Commander-in-Chief, a smattering of "Oh"s during "Oh Say Can you See" in the National Anthem and Chipper Jones of the Braves, who hit the first homer in the new park.

Other firsts:  First Pitch-Odalis Perez at 8:23 pm; First Hit-Cristian Guzman in the bottom of the first; First RBI-Nick Johnson driving in Guzman in the first.

Most fans would tell you that opening night at Nationals Park was an unqualified success, and the walk-off home run provided the fireworks that punctuated the southeast sky with   victory in the first game in a gem of a ballpark in southeast DC.