The Nationals’ final game of 2021 meant far more to the Boston Red Sox and their playoff hopes than it did to the home team finishing a disappointing season.
But a 7-5 loss in a game they once led 5-0 still had moments of magic even if Washington failed to play spoiler and keep Boston out of MLB’s postseason. The crowd of 33,986 stood and gave Ryan Zimmerman, 37, the longest-tenured National, a World Series champion finishing his 16th season with the team, a long, heartfelt ovation when manager Davey Martinez pulled him from the game just before the start of the eighth inning.
The Nationals’ first baseman blew a kiss to his wife, Heather, and his children in the stands while taking in the standing ovation from the crowd. He proceeded to hug Martinez as he left the field.
Zimmerman receives ovations as he ponders future with Nats originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
“I talked to Heather last night a little bit, and she was like, ‘You need to do something.’ … We’re so conditioned to downplay everything and keep everything even-keeled. … Because I’m not sure, I didn’t want to make a big deal out of something,” Zimmerman said postgame.
Zimmerman has yet to publicly announce whether he intends to return to the Nationals for another season. Nonetheless, if this is the end of the road for the veteran infielder then Zimmerman emphasized he will remain part of the organization in some capacity.
“If this was the last day, it was a hell of a day,” Zimmerman said. “I started the year around 50/50, and it hasn’t gone up. I’m gonna be a part of the organization one way or the other moving forward.”
Zimmerman wasn’t alone in receiving an ovation as catcher Alex Avila also had his moment of recognition in the ninth inning when the 34-year-old took the field alone, which was something he didn’t expect.
“I think I can say it: I’m pretty damn proud of what I’ve been able to do,” Avila stated as he looked back on his career.
Martinez spoke after the game regarding these two moments: “It was the right thing to do for both guys.”