Play ball! Upgraded Nationals Park welcomes thousands of fans for home opener

Flag being unfurled at Nats Park
A flag is unfurled before Opening Day at Nationals Park. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
Screech the eagle watching the field at Nats Park
A mascot watches from the seats at Nationals Park during Opening Day on Monday, April 1. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
Baseball fans got the chance to try out new bites on Opening Day at Nationals Park. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)
Fans pour into Nationals Park on Opening Day in D.C. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)
WTOP’s Kyle Cooper reported lines to get into the ballpark were long an hour before first pitch. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)
A pep band treats fans outside the ballpark to music during a celebratory opening day in D.C.’s Navy Yard neighborhood. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)
Flag being unfurled at Nats Park
Screech the eagle watching the field at Nats Park

Baseball fans across the D.C. area headed to Navy Yard on Monday afternoon as the Washington Nationals hosted their 2024 home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams threw out the ceremonial first pitch, while Mayor Muriel Bowser gave the call to “play ball!”

The first pitch was thrown at 4:05 p.m.

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Washington (1-2) was in last place for most of the 2023 season, but this spring, they find themselves ahead of the New York Mets (0-3) and Miami (0-4), after dropping two of three in Cincinnati.

There’s more excitement surrounding the 2024 Nationals as opposed to last year’s team, according to WTOP Sports Reporter Dave Preston’s Nationals Notebook.

Monday’s rain tapered off by the afternoon, just in time for the game, much to the delight of the thousands of fans who descended on Nats Park for the first home game of the year.

Listen live to WTOP for the latest traffic and weather on the 8s.

Park gates opened at 2 p.m. Pregame ceremonies, including a U.S. military flyover, started around 3:30 p.m.

The first 20,000 fans who arrived received an Opening Day reversible bucket hat, thanks to sponsor PenFed.

The team also finally got the chance to show off some futuristic technology that will greet fans each game when they show up to Nationals Park this season.

Using technology called “Go-Ahead Entry,” fans no longer need to show their ticket in order to enter the stadium — all they need to do is show their face. But not every entrance will be equipped with the cutting-edge technology, meaning fans who don’t want to participate don’t have to, according to WTOP Reporter Nick Iannelli.

Inside the stadium, the most noticeable change is the new, high-resolution scoreboard.

WTOP’s Dave Preston, Nick Iannelli and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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