WASHINGTON - The Washington Nationals honored Ryan Zimmerman, the team's first ever draft pick, this weekend celebrating the now retired player who became the face of the franchise when the team moved to the nation's capital.
Prior to Saturday's game, the team honored Zimmerman by officially retiring his #11 jersey in front of a sell-out crowd, making Zimmerman the first player in team history to have his jersey retired.
During the ceremony, the man known as "Mr. National" removed a blue uniform shirt with "11" on the back and handed it to his father, who handed it off to clubhouse and equipment manager Mike Wallace.
Then a plaque with Zimmerman’s name and number were unveiled on a façade of the upper deck in foul territory between home plate and right field at Nationals Park.
"The unique, kind of, story of my career is I was here from the very beginning," Zimmerman said at a news conference where he was introduced as the team’s special advisor for baseball and business operations, "and it’s just sort of being lucky to be here in the first year and then staying here and being able to grow — with the fan base, with the organization. ... So I think that’s what makes me a little bit different, a little bit special. It’s nothing that I did; I was just here."
Zimmerman was selected fourth overall in the 2005 draft – the same year the Montreal Expos relocated to the District and became the Nationals. Zimmerman spent his entire 17-year Major League Baseball career with Washington and went on to become their all-time leader in nearly every offensive category.
"Not only is Ryan 'Mr. National,' but he is, more importantly, a dear friend," said Mark D. Lerner, Managing Principal Owner of the Washington Nationals in a statement. "It brings me and my family so much joy to see that his #11 jersey is the first in Nationals history to be retired, and we're all looking forward to welcoming Ryan, his family and friends back to the ballpark for a weekend full of celebration, memories and thanks."
Ryan Zimmerman (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Zimmerman won the World Series with the team in 2019. He is a two-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove award winner and was the National League Comeback Player of the Year in 2017.
The Associated Press contributed to this report