Nationals’ home opener to feature Olympians, giveaways

WASHINGTON — An Olympian, a Paralympian and a heroic school resource officer will be on hand to help the Washington Nationals start their home season at Nationals Park Thursday.

The Nats will play the New York Mets at 1:05 p.m., and the team released the full schedule of Opening Day events on Tuesday.

The first pitch will be thrown out by St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Deputy Blaine Gaskill, the school resource officer who confronted the shooter at Great Mills High School on March 20. The Nats’ lineup card will be presented by Olympic speed skater Maame Biney, who grew up in Reston, Virginia, and competed in the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea; and Frederick, Maryland, native Noah Grove, who won a gold medal at the Paralympic Games.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will be on hand to announce “Play ball!”

Three Nationals will pick up the awards they won for their 2017 exploits: the National League Cy Young Award for Max Scherzer, the Silver Slugger Award for second baseman Daniel Murphy and the Players Choice Award for NL Comeback Player of the Year for first baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

The U.S. Army Chorus Quartet will sing the national anthem, and the VFA-32 Swordsmen from Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Virginia, will perform a flyover in F/18 Super Hornet Jets.

The team announced that the first 25,000 fans to enter the ballpark will get a 2018 schedule T-shirt from GEICO. Entertainment before the game will come from DJ Flexx, Jeff From Accounting and DJ Stylus Chris. The Family Picnic Area will feature caricature artists, face painters and balloon twisters.

Getting there and getting in

The gates open at 11 a.m., and the team said all fans should enter through the gates closest to their seats to avoid a traffic jam at the Center Field Gate.

Parking options start at $20, the team said; you can reserve a spot in advance.

You can also get to Nats Park by Metro, bike, bus, even boat, and there are changes to parking, traffic and ride sharing near the park. The Nationals’ website has a section on the various ways to get there.

You can still get a ticket for the game by getting a NATS PLUS membership. A few grandstand seats will go on sale for $15 at the main box office at 11 a.m. — one per customer, and each customer has to be there. A few more tickets may be released; the team said to check their website.

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