Earlier this summer, I had the awesome chance to ask a few of my favorite Nationals players who their favorite player growing up was, and what their favorite ballpark to visit is. This was a great experience to chat with the players.
Here is what Drew Storen, Ross Detwiler, Denard Span, Wilson Ramos and Livan Hernandez each had to say.
Who Was Your Favorite Player Growing Up?
Both Drew Storen and Denard Span said that Ken Griffey Jr was their favorite player growing up. “I remember watching a lot of his highlights as a kid and I just fell in love with him,” Span said. Storen may have gotten to see Griffey play in person, because his family used to take him on birthday baseball trips, and they went to Seattle once.
Wilson Ramos said his favorite player was Pudge Rodriguez because “he was the most popular catcher in the big leagues. It must have been pretty cool for him to play on the Nationals 2011 team together.
Ross Detwiler really liked watching Randy Johnson. Johnson played for a lot of teams, including the Expos, Mariners, Diamondbacks and Giants, but he never played for Detwiler’s hometown St. Louis Cardinals. However, they are both left handed pitchers, so it makes sense that Detwiler would look up to him.
Livan Hernandez loved Nolan Ryan. “He threw a lot of innings and worked really hard on the mound. He is my favorite pitcher of all time.” Nolan Ryan was known for his fastball and MLB record 7 career no-hitters. Livan may not have thrown as fast as Nolan Ryan, but Hernandez was a World Series MVP, which is something Nolan Ryan can’t claim.
What Is Your Favorite Ballpark to Visit on the Road?
Interestingly, none of the players I talked to had the same favorite ballpark. I guess there are a lot of great parks out there to visit!
Wilson Ramos said his favorite visiting ballpark is Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati because “the ball flies in that stadium and you hit a lot of homers.” Last year, Ramos hit 2 home runs in one game against the Reds. The Nationals return to Cincinnati at the end of July.
Drew Storen has 2 favorite ballparks to visit AT&T Park in San Francisco, and PNC Park in Pittsburgh. I have visited both and they are beautiful. Check out my posts about those trips by clicking on the links above.
Denard Span likes Angel Stadium in Anaheim because it has a nice field. He played there a lot as a member of the Minnesota Twins, but the Nationals have not played there since Span joined the National League. Hopefully, I’ll be able to visit Angels Stadium when I go to California later in July.
Livan Hernandez likes both Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Chicago’s Wrigley Field. I’ve never been to Arizona, but I was in Chicago earlier this year to see the Nats play. Wrigley Field is a historic place to watch baseball.
All of these players came out to support the Bethesda Big Train. The Big Train is a collegiate summer baseball league that plays in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League. They play in Cabin John Regional Park.
They also put on a camp in the summer for kids, including a special Nationals-theme camp. During the day we did drills and played baseball games with the Big Train players as our coaches. My coaches were Wes Rea (1B, Mississippi State University), Cody Brown (OF, Mississippi State University), Bo Logan (P, Florida Atlantic University), Tim Yandel (P, Tulane University), Josh Thorne (P, Stetson University), Tony DiLeo (C, Eastern Michigan University), and Jacob Billingsley (P, Mississippi State University). The best part was that each day a current or former Nats player or mascot came to visit during lunch. Everyone who came to camp was really friendly and signed a lot of autographs for all the kids there. Check out some of my pictures and learn why these players came out to support Big Train– and especially make sure you listen to what Denard Span said.
Wilson Ramos came to camp because he likes encourage kids to play hard if they want to make it in the big leagues. Listen to an excerpt of my interview with Wilson below:
Since Livan has started to work with the Nats this year, he decided to come out and see camp this year. Listen to watch he had to say:
Ross Detwiler liked the camp when he came in 2012, so he came back.
Denard Span and I shared a laugh when he said that the reason he came was for me to interview him. I thought that was hilarious, and so did Denard. Check out the audio below:
The Big Train plays games through the end of July, so there is still a chance to see a game. They are #1 in the CRCBL league, so you see a lot of good talent and they will play through the July playoffs. There are lots of Big Train alumni in the major leagues, like Twins 2B Brian Dozier, who is in Home Run Derby at the 2014 All Star Game.
You can still sign up for the Big Train camp for kids, and there is one next week on July 21-25 at bigtrain.org/summercamp/. Even after baseball season ends, they do a lot of great events like the Big Train Holiday Auction and the Big Train Celebrity Softball Classic.