For the first time in recent memory the school year was coming to a quick end and a short vacation on Father's Day weekend would follow its conclusion. The weeks leading up to the last day of school provided more tham enough time to plan our brief family get away. Our destination would be Washington D.C. Certainly the allure of the trip was the opportunity to embrace our national heritage from a cultural and historical perspective, but little did we know that we would experience some history of our own during our brief stay.
Our family being a "baseball family" wrestled with the idea of spending much of our first day at Nationals Park taking in a ball game, knowing that we would have to sacrifice taking in some of the sights that we also looked forward to seeing. In the end however we decided to attend the game. As it turned out that would be an excellent decision.
We departed for Washington D.C. early on Saturday morning the day after school ended. My amazing wife Jennifer had spent a great deal of time planning the trip and we all were looking forward to our eventual arrival.
Upon arrival in D.C. we had a quick lunch at a local sandwich shop, contacted Uber and arranged for our transportation to the stadium. We had never been to this venue before so we looked forward to the nuances that made the ball park special.
The day was one where you couldn't find enough shade or feel quite cool enough. Despite the oppressive weather we looked forward to the start of the game and watching two of the best pitchers in the National League engage in a potential pitchers duel. The hometown Nationals would face the Pittsburgh Pirates and , Max Scherzer would face Fransisco Liriiano.
The expected pitching duel lived up to its billng early on, as both pitchers dominated the oppositions lineup for the first half of the game which was moving at a rapid pace. Eventually though Bryce Harper would treat the hometown fans to an opposite field home run and an early lead. The Nationals offense would take control of the game over the next several innings making the possibility of a Pirate comeback remote. The story though was only half written.
Max Scherzer was looking to write some history of his own. After six innings there was a buzz in the crowd as the patrons began to realize that a perfect game was in the works. Nary a baserunner had reached base via, walk, hit or error for the Pirates as Scherzer's dominance continued throughout the afternoon and into the early evening. Over the next few frames little would change other then some defensive heroics by the Nationals.
The top of the ninth inning arrived with the Nationals comfortably ahead. The outcome was all but decided except for one major detail. Finishing the perfect game.
The first two hiitters were retired and the next batter was down to his last strike. Scherzer was on the verge of perfection and making history. We were all on the edge of our seats bearing witness. The Pirate hitter Jose Tabata fouled off the next few pitches.. and then it happened. Scherzer's next offering rode in on Tabata and hit him on the elbow which was protected by the players body armor. Tabata was awarded first base and just like that, in a blink of an eye a frenetic crowd stood in shock and disbelief.
The perfect game had suddenly become imperfect ,but there was still an opportunity to make history. The no-hitter was still in tact and when the next batters fly ball landed safely in the glove of Michael Taylor in left field ,Scherzer would achieve just that. A major league no hitter and his place in the history books.
In the end he wasn't perfect but for almost 3 hours and 26 batters he was. He came as close to a perfect game without achieving it as anyone could. In the end he emerged with a no-hitter, a complete game,a shut out and a win. Quite a nice reward for his efforts in the hazy and hot afternoon sunshine. Perfect? nope but almost.
Our vacation on the other hand was off to the perfect start, considering we almost didn't even go to the game. It wasn't just that I've attended 100s of baseball games and never witnessed a no hitter before, or an almost perfect game, if you will. We were there together, as a family on Father's Day weekend and we had all witnessed history. The four of us together on this special weekend in this special place. The memory will live long beyond the day or the weekend, it will live in our hearts forever. Perfect? Pretty close!