In what he described as a "a true bucket list" moment, Commanders Managing Partner Josh Harris threw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Thursday night.
"I knew it was going to be a fun night, but at the same time I wanted to make sure the pitch went over. No one'll ever accuse me of not [doing that]," Harris said with a laugh. "I had been throwing the baseball around with my kids a lot. I haven't played baseball since ninth grade, and it was just great to get back into it."
There was nothing out of left field about Harris' approach to his moment on the mound. Just as he does with his philanthropic work and business endeavors, he prepared with care and intention.
"A couple of weeks ago he told me, 'Alex, we need to go to a baseball field and start practicing throwing a ball,'" Harris' fitness trainer recalled. "At the end of the day, he cares so much that he wants to do it really well … That's why he was emphasizing practicing over and over."
Managing Partner Josh Harris threw the opening pitch at the Washington Nationals' game against the Atlanta Braves with several Washington Legends and Major Tuddy in attendance.
From that first pitch and interviews with Washington Legends to the running of the mascots and a charitable donation with a Commanders spin, the night at Nationals Park was full of enthusiasm, fun and pride around a special collaboration. The Sept. 21 game formally kicked off the Capital Crossover: Diamonds and Gridiron series, an initiative between the Nationals and Commanders that aims to celebrate two of the area's premier sports franchises and their fanbases.
The beauty of this union was colorfully embodied by fans around the stadium on Thursday who opted to pay tribute to the two teams in their gameday outfits.
"I love this idea, and I think it's representative of the wonderful things new ownership is bringing to the table" said Debbie Francisco, donning a Commanders shirt and Nationals hat. "We're also going to the Commanders game on Oct. 5 for the Nats part of the crossover. I can't wait."
Fellow lifelong Washington sports fans Cesar and Felipe Navas underscored that love of the link-up. For the two brothers with Nicaraguan roots, the festivities at Nats Park on Thursday honored not only their sport interests but important parts of their cultural identity. Both "hosting parts" of the crossover for the teams happen to fall during Hispanic Heritage Month.
"It's great that Commanders Night lines up with Latino Heritage Night, and it's really cool to see the teams honoring Latino communities," Felipe Navas said.
The Nationals and the Commanders have been vocal about the influence of Latino culture on their team and their appreciation for their Latino fanbase. As part of Thursday's slate of events, the Nationals released a video produced by the two clubs highlighting Nationals manager Davey Martinez and Commanders head coach Ron Rivera who both identify as Latino. Also, in a pregame moment, members from the Latino employee resource groups, called Somos, from both organizations were able to connect and then stand together on the field.
"To me the collab represented coming together with the fans of both teams, along with our counterparts at the Nationals, to celebrate Hispanic culture, through the music, cultural awareness activities and initiatives, and love for both sports," said co-chair of Somos Commanders Kelly Torres.
The evening overall offered an incredible example of the many diverse experiences made possible by these two iconic franchises. Just as there was space held on the night for community and social justice-oriented initiatives there was also time for silly amusement. In the fourth inning, for example, Major Tuddy put on a great show in the traditional Presidents' Race, flattening Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt before sprinting to the finish line.
When asked for comment about his dominating performance, Tuddy merely flexed.
The Nationals clearly kicked off the Capital Crossover in awesome fashion and now it is up to the Commanders to close it out with a bang on Thursday Night Football. To secure your seats, go to commanders.com/tickets.