On Thursday, the Nationals released the schedule for their 2007 Winter Caravan, which is billed as "an opportunity for the Nationals team members to connect with their fans and the community in the region" and "for our fans to get up close and personal with our newly named manager, players, and the Nats' broadcast personalities before Opening Day in April 2007." Attending the Caravan events will be skipper Manny Acta, centerfielder Nook Logan, pitcher Mike O'Connor, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, freakish mascot "Screech," and the eminently cool Racing Presidents. Radio announcers Charles Slowes and Dave Jageler and new MASN color commentator Don Sutton will moderate events.
The Caravan will stretch from January 22-29 at the following locations:
Monday, January 22:
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Adopt-A-School program announcement and autograph session at Kimball Elementary School, Washington, DC.
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Autograph Session at ESPN Zone, Washington, DC. 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC.
Tuesday, January 23:
Noon-2:00 p.m. School visit to Latin American Youth Center, Washington, DC.
4:45 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Autograph Session at Modell’s Sporting Goods, Greenbelt, Maryland.
Wednesday, January 24th:
Noon-2:00 p.m. Autograph Session at Safeway, Bowie Town Center, Bowie, MD.
5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. Meet & Greet at Washington Nationals Team Store, White Flint, Bethesda, MD.
Thursday, January 25th:
Noon-2:00 p.m. Lunch with the Nationals and the Double-A Affiliate Hagerstown Suns, Hagerstown, MD.
Friday, January 26th:
11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Meet & Greet with blood donors at American Red Cross Headquarters, Fairfax, VA.
4:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Youth baseball clinic, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington Prince William indoor facility, Manassas, VA.
Saturday, January 27th:
10:00 a.m.-noon. Reading Circle and book giveaway, Public Library, Fredericksburg, VA.
2:45 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. Meet & Greet, Red, Hot & Blue Restaurant, Richmond, VA.
Sunday, January 28th:
12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Youth Baseball Clinic, Princess Anne Recreation Center, Virginia Beach, VA.
Monday, January 29th:
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Meet & Greet at University of Maryland Student Union, College Park, MD.
2:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Meet & Greet with construction workers at New Nationals Ballpark, Washington, DC.
3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Meet and Greet at Washington Nationals Team Store, Washington, DC.
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As you can see, the Caravan stretches from the DC area to the Richmond and Hampton Roads regions. The Richmond leg has my interest, obviously. To be perfectly honest, the Caravan concept doesn't immediately appeal to me. I don't have any kids, and I devote attention to baseball teams to follow what the players do, not necessarily to meet the players. When you've walked past the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair at the Richmond airport as an eleven year-old, further brushes with greatness seem sort of superfluous. Whoooo!
More seriously, I'm going to try to attend the Richmond event on the 27th. I have a function I have to attend at about six, but the early part should work for me. It's kind of an awkward time to attend Red Hot & Blue---after lunch but before dinner hour---but down here, we take what we can get. So far, that's been no TV, no radio (both starting this season), and not too much attention to the Nats. This isn't entirely inappropriate, seeing as we aren't a great baseball town and our baseball team is the Triple-A affiliate of the Braves. But that's probably why attending events like the Caravan stop is important for Nats fans here in Richmond. We're a second-class market, and those of us who follow the team in the nearest Big City would be wise to show our support.
As the saying goes, when two or three are gathered . . .