November 2019

2019 Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Ceremony

Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Winner Randy Johnson

Last night, I attended the annual Bob Feller Act of Valor Award  ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.  This year’s recipients were Randy Johnson, Hall of Fame pitcher for the Diamondbacks and Mariners; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, and Navy Logistics Specialist Chief Jairo N. Guity.  The Foundation also honored Gunnery Sargeant Joshua MacMillan of the US Marine Corps with the Jerry Coleman Award and the USS America’s JEA chapter and the Great Lakes Chapter of CSADD with the Peer-to-Peer Award.  Among the VIP guests at this year’s ceremony was John Dalton, Navy Secretary under President Clinton, and Thomas Modly, Under Secretary of the Navy.

The Act of Valor Award honors Bob Feller,  a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians from 1936 to 1956. Feller was the first American professional athlete to enlist in the military after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Feller threw no-hitters in 3 different years, including the only no-hitter ever thrown on Opening Day. “Rapid Robert” Feller was also called “The Heater from Van Meter” after his hometown of Van Meter, Iowa because he threw some of the fastest fastballs in baseball history.  He pitched 3,287 innings, threw 44 shutouts, and rang up 2,581 strike outs in his career, which was interrupted by serving 3 years as a gun captain on the U.S.S. Alabama in the Navy during World War II.

The Act of Valor Award is given out to three people who share the characteristics of Bob Feller: an active MLB player, a member of the Navy, and a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Act of Valor Foundation also gives out the Jerry Coleman Award, named after the late legendary San Diego Padres broadcaster and former Yankees 2nd baseman Jerry Coleman. Coleman served as a colonel in the Marines during WWII and Korea, the only MLB player ever to serve in both wars. He is also a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a Ford Frick winner.  The Jerry Coleman Award honors a US Marine Non-commissioned Officer who has shown unyielding support for the Marines and the United States of America.

The Foundation also awarded the Peer-to-Peer Award. Both honorees are groups of sailors ages 18-25 who demonstrate honor, courage, and commitment. They also encourage peer-to-peer mentoring and to reduce personal destructive decision making. The award was given to teams of sailors who participate in the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions or Junior Enlisted Association.

AWARD WINNERS

Randy Johnson, one of the most iconic pitchers of the 1990s, was the Hall of Fame player awarded with the Act of Valor Award. Johnson is an

Speaking with Hall of Fame pitcher and Act of Valor award winner Randy Johnson

active participant with the United Service Organization (USO) and has gone on countless trips to visit troops abroad for the past ten years. Johnson was honored to receive this award, especially due to its’ namesake, Hall of Fame pitcher and Navy Chief Petty Officer Bob Feller.

“I played 26 years of professional baseball, so I know the time and demand it takes to be a baseball player,” Johnson said. “For him to be a Hall of Fame baseball player and still serve our country, it says a lot about the person.”

Speaking with Bob Feller Act of Valor Award winner Ian Kennedy of the KC Royals

Ian Kennedy currently is a pitcher for the Kansas City Royals. Kennedy was honored with the Act of Valor Award for giving back to military families in the Kansas City area. He hosts military families at Royals games and is involved with Folds of Honor, Honor Flight Kansas City, and the USO. Kennedy, like Johnson, is very humbled by winning the Act of Valor Award.

“It’s humbling just to be recognized for the work that we do,” Kennedy told me. “To use baseball as an outlet to show our gratitude for our service men and women, it means a lot.”

Logistics Specialist Chief Jairo N. Guity was the member of the Navy honored with the award. A member of the Blue Angels, LSC Guity has accumulated many awards for his volunteer work. He has accumulated over 1,300 volunteer hours as a member of the Navy and volunteers with multiple organizations.

Gunnery Sergeant Joshua MacMillan of the United States Marine Corps was awarded the Jerry Coleman Award. Like Logistics Specialist Chief Guity, GySgt MacMillan is a very active in his community and is an active volunteer. A veteran of three deployments, MacMillan has shown countless dedication to his country and to the Marine Corps.

The other MLB nominees for the Award this year were Minnesota Twins OF Byron Buxton, Milwaukee Brewers P Josh Hader, New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, Houston Astros OF Josh Reddick, Atlanta Braves P Will Smith, San Diego Padres P Craig Stammen, and Boston Red Sox P Rick Porcello.

As we recently celebrates Veterans Day, I dedicate this post to the service men and women who risked their lives and made personal sacrifices for the safety and security of our nation.  Thank you for your generosity, service, and selflessness to the United States.  Learn more about the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award at http://www.actofvaloraward.org/

Navy Yard Restaurants See Boom In Business During World Series

Restaurants in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C. saw a significant increase in business during the Nationals appearance in the World

The Navy Yard/Riverfront neighborhood of Washington. Photo via Urban Turf

Series, local business owners report.  

Restaurants in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C., saw an increase in sales of 218% in the month of October. These statistics were gathered by the financial analysis firm MarginEdge, and corroborated what business owners saw in sales. Some restaurant managing partners, like Tom Johnson of Willie’s Brew and Que, were surprised at the business created by the World Series. 

“Since this was the first World Series in D.C. since 1924, no one knew what to expect,” Johnson said. “The World Series was completely unlike anything else, and we definitely underestimated the turnout, which was huge.” 

Entrepreneurs who own businesses near Nationals Park made significant preparations to accommodate the influx of customers before World Series games by increasing staffing and food purchased. The time and resources allotted by business owners paid off, as they reported increases in sales and customers. Fritz Brogan, a managing partner of Mission Navy Yard, a bar located across the street from Nationals Park, saw these changes firsthand. 

“We served thousands of customers a day for the home games and for Game 7,” Brogan said. “It was extremely good for business and we loved the energy that fans brought.”

Ryan Zimmerman and Mike Rizzo celebrate with fans at The Salt Line after the Nationals won the NL Pennant. Photo via Eater DC

As the MLB playoffs are unpredictable, staff at local restaurants needed to adapt accordingly and work long hours. One restaurant that was impacted by extra-long hours is The Salt Line. The Salt Line, co-owned by Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, was frequented by players, team staff, and on occasion, celebrities attending games or celebrating wins. General Manager Whitney Satra explained the necessary preparations for such an event.

“Our management team worked with our servers and bartenders to really take time to make the fans who joined us all year long feel special,” Satra said. “Those extra touches from our team were really appreciated and it was nice to see everyone celebrate together.”

Restaurants also made special preparations to allow patrons to celebrate the Nationals’ championship. Restaurants throughout the region created food and drink specials and held watch parties for both the games and for the parade. However, some establishments closer to the stadium took postgame celebrations to the next level. 

“As we saw the victory coming, we began to stock cases of champagne behind the bar and covering our DJ equipment,” Brogan said. “When the

Fans celebrate at Mission Navy Yard once the Nationals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals to win the NL Pennant. Photo via Washington Business Journal

game ended, hundreds of people were spraying beer and champagne and dancing on the tables!” 

Aside from the Nationals’ first World Series championship in franchise history, though, business owners in the Navy Yard had other reasons to celebrate. 

Johnson said, “During Game 7, we saw an increase in revenue of 900%.” 

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Thank you to the three restaurants featured for speaking with MattsBats.com. The next time you are attending a game at Nationals Park, I recommend that you try the delicious food at:

Mission Navy Yard (Van Street SE and N Street SE)

Willie’s Brew and Que (Tingey Street SE and 3rd Street SE)

The Salt Line (First Street SE and Potomac Avenue SE)

A Nationals Parade

As sports fans, we wait our entire lives to see moments like what happened Saturday afternoon in Washington. We dream of one day seeing our favorite athletes hoist the championship trophy in their hometown, overlooking thousands upon thousands of screaming fans, as drunk from celebration as could possibly be. For fans in cities like Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago, these types of celebration have been commonplace in the past decade. Last year, the Washington Capitals brought us Washingtonians our first taste of this championship glory. Earlier in October, we saw the Washington Mystics win their title. For me and for many other fans, however, the parade and rally of the Nationals’ World Series championship was the sweetest of them all. Savor the moment, Washington. The Nationals did it.

I got to the parade area at around 9:30 am. I staked out a spot around the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue, and waited. I had the opportunity to talk to two fellow fans who were waiting there early to grab a good spot.

Arguably the Nationals fan who went the most “viral” on social media after the championship was Jason Turner. He was at the watch party at Nationals Park during Game 7, and once Daniel Hudson struck out Michael Brantley to secure the World Series, Turner took off his shirt and slid on top of the wet Nationals dugout. When offering his rationale behind what happened in that moment, Turner said that “as D.C. sports fans, we don’t win that often, but when we win, we party.”

The parade and championship also meant a lot to Louis Hoffman, who has been a D.C. baseball fan since he was a boy. He remembers watching the “old Senators with players like Frank Howard and Aurelio Rodriguez” and the Senators having no shot at winning the World Series. But Hoffman realizes how special this moment is. “Some people go their whole life and never have their team win the World Series. But for me, I’ve been waiting 57 years for this, and it means the world to me.”

Gerardo Parra shows his favorite toy to the crowd

The parade started with much fanfare. The players rode in double-decker sightseeing buses, and the first one to pass by featured Gerardo Parra (and his baby shark toy) and Adam Eaton. Everyone around serenaded Parra with the Baby Shark dance. The next bus continued the dance (as Baby Shark was now playing from the speakers), which could be called “El Autobus Dominicano” and was populated by all of the Dominican

players on the team.

Mayor Bowser rode in her own bus with her staff (she threw me a stress ball!) and scholar-athletes from the Washington Nationals Youth Academy followed soon after. Sean Doolittle went down the parade route riding the bullpen cart, wielding a lightsaber, because Sean Doolittle is awesome. After a few DC area little league teams walked by, Howie Kendrick showed off the NLCS MVP trophy to the crowd. Pitching coach Paul Menhart rode with some of his pitchers, including World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg (who did not carry his hardware for the crowd).

The highlight, though, was when the trophy went by. It was hard not to get a little emotional when Ryan Zimmerman, Dave Martinez, and Mike Rizzo went by with the World Series trophy. Confetti filled the air, and the cheers coming from the Nationals’ faithful was deafening. It realized the dream we’ve been living in the last few days; The Washington Nationals are World Series Champions.

P.S. – I’d like to step up to Adam Eaton’s hotline to deliver this message. Can we bring back Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg?

Here are some pictures from the parade, whether you’d like to re-live the moment or see what it was like for yourself.

 

Fans anxiously await the World Series champion Nationals

And now, WE DANCE!

Brian Dozier, probably singing “Calma”

Confetti follows the trophy on the parade route

The scene around the National Archives (photo via @REnsiemada)

Fight finished. (Photo by @SpringRealtyNYC)

Baby Shark shows off their best moves after the parade

Youth Academy scholar-athletes love their Nats

D.C. Statehood activists show off their best Baby Shark

MORE BABY SHARK!

DAVEY!!!

Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Rainey, Austin Voth, and Paul Menhart take in the crowd

Assistant Hitting Coach Joe Dillon celebrates with the fans

Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo

Yeah…we love Baby Shark…like, a lot

One Metro operator is feeling footloose

The Clydesdales walk down Constitution for the second time in two years (Photo via @REnsiemada)

A season ticket holder since 2005, Maurice got to walk in the parade with one of the “Grand Slam Schools” (Photo by @LetTeddyWin via @LGross

Mike Rizzo living his absolute best life (Photo via @LetTeddyWin)

Adrian Sanchez sprays beer into the crowd (Photo via @LetTeddyWin)

Brian Dozier in his natural habitat…with his shirt off (Photo via @LetTeddyWin)

 

What a celebration. The Nationals deserve it. They’re World Series Champions.