Even though the Washington Nationals ended up dropping Game of the 2019 World Series to the Houston Astros, it was a truly memorable occasion for all in the stadium who had the chance to soak up the atmosphere.
With a lot of goosebump-worthy build-up, including the tremendous D.C. Washington singing the national anthem and the Nationals walking out to The Avengers theme music, it was over to the first pitch.
There were several worthy candidates who could’ve thrown out the first pitch at a World Series game in the nation’s capital for the first time in 86 years.
The final decision turned out to be a great one as they went with a pair of this franchise’s original Nationals in Chad Cordero and his former battery mate, Brian Schneider.
That same combination of Cordero and Schneider were the closing battery for the first win of this iteration of the Nationals on April 6th, 2005 in a 7-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Cordero is fondly remembered by Nats fans. The Chief, as he was affectionately known, spent four seasons in D.C. after making the move from Montreal along with many others.
The reliever was one of the new Nationals’ first All-Stars, along with Liván Hernández, in 2005. That year, he dominated out of the bullpen to a tune of a 1.82 ERA in 74.1 innings while converting 47 of 54 save opportunities.
Cordero even earned Cy Young and MVP votes, something almost unheard of for relievers.
“The fans and everybody around here, the whole city made us feel right at home,” Cordero told reporters before Game 3. “We instantly felt very comfortable with everything, with the move, with the stadium, with the city.”
Schneider also came over with the team from Montreal and was the Nationals’ primary backstop for three years before being traded to the New York Mets in the Lastings Milledge deal.
Watching from afar, the former catcher can see not only how far the franchise has come, but how the city has grown into a fully-fledged baseball town once again after not having a team for 33 years before the Nationals came to town.
“You knew that that was just the beginning,” Schneider said. “This place was going to continue to grow and support. And honestly, when you look at places to go as a free agent or where to play, the nation’s capital is a pretty cool thing to say you’re here in the nation’s capital. It’s a good destination. You always knew they would bring guys in, guys would want to play here.”
Paying homage to the 2005 Nationals was an honor that both Schneider and Cordero were only too grateful to accept and represent 2005’s team.
“It’s special,” Schneider said. “To get that call to come back here. It’s not just any other game, right, it’s the first time in 86 years there’s been a series here. It’s special.
“I’m very privileged and excited to be part of it. And to be here next to Chief means a lot to me, too. I’m just ready to go back out there and feel the excitement of the crowd and to be here.”
Cordero echoed the same sentiments as his former backstop about the occasion.
“It’s a huge honor to be able to come back and be a part of something like this,” Cordero explained.
“To be part of that first team in ‘05 that brought baseball back after so many years, and then to be able to be invited to throw out the first pitch in the World Series and the first one, like Brian said, in 86 years, that’s a pretty special honor. Not a whole lot of people can say they’ve had a chance to do that.”
It didn’t take long for Cordero to accept the Nationals’ invitation to throw out the first pitch...
“When they gave myself a call,” Cordero said, “I told them I’d drop everything to be able to come out here. I don’t want to miss this opportunity because who knows when you’re going to be able to do this type of thing ever again and stuff.”
Though Cordero admitted he was nervous that he might spike the pitch, he threw a laser to Schneider, even if it was just a little outside, to huge cheers from the sellout crowd at Nats Park.
April 14, 2005:— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 26, 2019
Chad Cordero pitches to Brian Schneider, recording the 1st #Nats save in Washington, DC.
October 25, 2019:
Chad Cordero pitches to Brian Schneider before Game 3 of the #WorldSeries in Washington, DC.@ChadCordero32 // #STAYINTHEFIGHT pic.twitter.com/xJGzNEfJnr
For a lot of Nationals fans who have been with the team since the team moved to the nation’s capital, having Cordero and Schneider back for the first pitch in Game 3 was special for a number of reasons.
Hopefully, the former Nats will get to see the 2019 group finish what they started 15 years ago.