If Ryan Zimmerman is done with his major league career, the 37-year-old, 16-year veteran will finish his time with the Washington Nationals who drafted him 4th overall in 2005, and for whom he played all of his 1,799 big league games, with a .277/.341/.475 line, 417 doubles, and 284 home runs in 7,402 plate appearances. Though he (still) hasn’t decided if he’ll be back for a 17th season in the nation’s capital, Zimmerman decided he wanted to thank the fans in D.C. during the regular season finale in Nationals Park this past October.
“Because I’m not sure really I didn’t want to make a big deal out of something,” the veteran infielder explained of his previous reluctance to acknowledge he might have reached the end of his playing days, “but the last couple days with the pinch hits, when the fans would stand up every time, and you know just kind of — the energy and the feeling in the park I think it was good to do that more for I would say them than me is I guess the best answer.”
Had he not done something to show his love for Nats fans, however, he said, he might have regretted it if he didn’t get another opportunity.
“Say whenever the offseason comes and I do decide not to come back, I think I would look back at today and feel like I should have done something to thank them,” Zimmerman said. “So that’s kind of what it came down to. I went in and talked to Davey when I got here today, and he said let him do his job, because he had already planned to do something.”
“But I wanted to do it for the fans and for the people in the stadium,” he added.
“Obviously, I have a special relationship with this fanbase and the community. And talking with [my wife] Heather last night I think if I do retire this offseason and I didn’t do anything today, I would have regretted it.”
Zimmerman went 0 for 3 with a bases-loaded walk in the Nationals’ regular season finale, and he got a late-game moment, when Martinez pulled him off the field, and a curtain call that drew a raucous, standing ovation from the crowd in D.C.
His emotions in those moments, from the normally stoic Zimmerman, made it seem even more special.
“We’re humans, man,” Zimmerman said of his reaction. “This has been something I’ve done for a long time. I got here when I was 20, and I’m 37 now, so for the better part of my life, really, this is what I’ve known and what I’ve done every day.
“We don’t ever plan on that happening, I think it just kind of shows you how much this city means to me, how much this organization means to me. So, I wouldn’t say I was surprised. Ever since I’ve had two daughters I cry all the time anyway. It’s just part of it now. You just own it, pretty much is how it works.”