Baseball fans in Washington witnessed the first Major League game in their home ballpark in nearly 34 years Thursday as the Nationals made their home debut. President Bush, a former baseball team owner, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. VOA's Jim Stevenson was at RFK Stadium where Washington scored a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Almost 45,600 fans watched the beginning of a new baseball era in Washington. Nationals team manager Frank Robinson was well aware this was an unusually special opening day.
"To go out and win, this atmosphere, the turnout, the President out here, other dignitaries in the stands, and real baseball fans out there cheering," he said, "it was just a special situation where you wanted to win a ballgame. And it was nice to go out and do it."
|Nationals' Vinny Castilla, left, watches his fourth inning two-run triple go into right field during home opener at RFK Stadium, Thursday|
Mexican-born Vinny Castilla hit a home run and the crowd cheered as if the Nationals had won the World Series. Nationals left fielder Brad Wilkerson was impressed with his new home ballpark.
"It seems like the fans who were here tonight knew the game of baseball," he said. "And they lived and died with every pitch, even [on] opening night."
Cuban-born pitcher Livan Henandez did not give up a run until the ninth inning. With six wins and four losses, the Washington Nationals top their division in the young baseball season.