Nationals expand efforts off the playing field for community engagement

Gregory McCarthy, senior vice president of the Nationals’ community engagement, presents a Spanish-language ‘”Curious George at the Baseball Game” book at a media tour of  Nationals Park on March 21. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)

Some kids on baseball and softball teams lacking big ticket sponsors for uniforms might feel self-conscious playing against teams in fancier duds. But, this year, 24 leagues in D.C. and Northern Virginia will be getting 18,000 jerseys and caps donated by the Washington Nationals.

“We saved the youth leagues $440,000 this year in uniform costs, which they were allowed to turn back in and put into programs,” said Gregory McCarthy, senior vice president of the Nationals’ community engagement.

He added that the youth ballclub leaders told the team that the kids are “really excited and thrilled about wearing a uniform inspired by their professional team. It gives them pride.”

From uniforms to a day at the ballpark for every District first grader and more openings in the free summer baseball program, the Washington Nationals 2019 season includes expanded efforts of local philanthropy and community engagement.

This season, along with the District, Arlington County will be a full participant in the Nats’ summer reading program — and, it will be bilingual.

“We’re thrilled with that. The booklets will be in English and Spanish,” McCarthy said.

On June 15 at the Arlington Public Library, Nats outfielder Juan Soto will read “Curious George at The Baseball Game,” but in Spanish (so, “Jorge el curioso en el partido de béisbol”). He’ll be joined by another player, to be named later, who will read the parts that are in English.

The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, where Nats player Anthony Rendon is a board member, is also expanding its YBA Play free summer baseball program.

“We had 800 children participate in YBA Play last year in Wards 7, 5 and 6. We’ll have a new site in Ward 8 this year,” said Tal Alter, CEO of the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and Youth Baseball Academy.

“The plan is to have more than 1,000 children in YBA Play participating this year,” Alter added.

To help drum up support for individual causes supported by players, the Nationals are hosting a “battle of the cocktails” at four D.C.-area restaurants until March 26:

The player whose cocktail receives the most votes in the form of drinks sold will receive $5,000 for the charity of his choice.

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