It’s been a long time since local singer D.C. Washington has taken the field with the Washington Nationals.
“The last time I’ve done the anthem for the Nats was for the last spring training game, before they shut down for COVID last year,” Washington told WTOP.
In the past decade, fans of the Nationals, Wizards, D.C. United and the Washington Football Team have come to enjoy hearing the national anthem sung by Washington, who retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after 22 years in the U.S. Army.
On Tuesday, Washington will sing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch.
“Bob McDonald will be doing the anthem,” Washington said. “I’m glad he’s doing that — a retired Army Sergeant Major — it’s good to have a guy out there in uniform.”
“I don’t fit in my uniform,” Washington joked.
Washington’s self-effacing manner is in keeping with his patriotic service and religious faith.
“About 16% of people in D.C. live in poverty,” Washington said. “A whole bunch of those people are homeless, and a lot of people are one paycheck away from that.”
Washington has been a board member of the Central Union Mission for almost two decades.
“We house about 170 men a night,” Washington said. “To this date, there’s not been one COVID case in the Mission.”
Despite his presence at local sporting events, Washington is the first to acknowledge he didn’t grow up as a sports fan.
“I’m not a sports guy — I was a band geek in high school,” said Washington.
In the late 1970s, he became a New York Yankees fan.
“I was living in a small trailer and I had a little black and white TV,” recalls Washington. “At the time they had a guy, (opera singer) Robert Merrill. He was a baritone. And I thought, ‘man, it would be so cool to stand on the field like that, and belt the anthem out.'”
Over time, he’s become a Nationals fan: “I like all the folks at Nats Park — the players, the behind the scenes folk, the ushers — it’s like a family.”
As the season starts, Washington is hopeful for a better season than last year’s pandemic-riddled one:” It was tough, because we had just come off the World Series.”
“And when COVID hit, and it all sorta became stuck in time. 2019 — who could ask for more?”
WTOP’s Kyle Cooper contributed to this story.