Winter Caravan – PG Sports & Learning Complex

Jason Marquis, as you can plainly see!
New Nat, Jason Marquis, as you can plainly see!

I spent much of yesterday trying to put names to new Nats faces and commit them to memory so I wouldn’t goof up any of the photo captions. As you can see, Jason Marquis was quite obliging in that regard! Prior to an autograph signing and photo session at the Prince George’s County Sports & Learning Complex where fans could gawk at Adam Dunn’s quite full winter beard or comment on Josh Willingham’s Capitals “Courage” hat and meet three new off-season signings, the Nationals held a press conference in the town hall room at the back of the impressive complex (seriously, I gawked at the gymnastics gymnasium and wished I had a place like that to go while growing up!).

As anyone who lives in the DMV area is aware, there are many very poor areas in PG County. Honestly, what comes to mind when you hear “PG County”? For those underserved children, they grow up without organized baseball programs teaching them fundamentals or real balls, bats and gloves for those who still attempt to play. The most touching moment came at the end of the press conference when Steven Carter (Chief, Sports, Health & Wellness Division, M-NCPPC*) spoke about learning to play baseball with a sock wrapped in duct tape and the emotion of calling his mom the day he was called up to the big leagues against all odds. He then asked all the Nationals players present and the Forestville Little League players to come up front so the kids could touch an MLB player and remember the moment as they work their way towards success of their own.

So with that said, the Nationals clearly picked well for partnering with a county for promoting youth baseball. During the press conference, the Nationals announced the designation of the M-NCPPC Department of Parks and Recreation Prince George’s County as the recipient of the 2010 Baseball Equipment Drive (in partnership with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund) to be held at Nats Park on Sunday, June 6th. A grant of $5,000 will be given to purchase baseball equipment and the Nationals will host a baseball clinic for Prince George’s County youth as well as commit players to appear at clinics held by the county Parks & Rec commission. The Nationals are also donating tickets to games to underserved youth and their families as part of their mission to bring baseball to children who might not otherwise have an opportunity to learn and play the game with proper equipment. The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation also gave a $5,000 grant to the Forestville Boys & Girls Club to assist with baseball programs and equipment needs. The kids grabbed that giant photo op check and ran around the conference room as things were breaking up hooting and hollering like it was a real check they could spend. Too cute!

Now off to NatsFest at the ballpark!

[ Flickr ]

* Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s Department of Parks & Recreation

Reminder, click first image, then ā€˜Nā€™ for next, ā€˜Cā€™ to close:

Ah, the ladylike fun of crawling around on the floor in front of a room full of attentive press conference attendees – I had forgotten how much I love that!