WASHINGTON - Steve Heller of Fairfax County, Virginia sat in section 314 here Wednesday afternoon, wearing a white Nationals’ jersey with 19 - as in 2019 - with the name Champs above the numerals.
He has been a partial season-ticket holder since the first season in 2005 and became a full-season holder in 2007, the last year the Nationals played at RFK Stadium.
Heller has not missed a game this season and in the series finale against Pittsburgh, he was among 16,781 fans who were eager to put the pandemic behind them.
“The first time I noticed a difference was the Orioles series when we went to 60 percent” capacity, Heller told Federal Baseball of the crowd intensity. ”People came for both teams. Up here (in Section 314), it was pretty lively. It is more like normal - cross our fingers - like it should be.”
“If you were a season-ticket holder, you got first crack” at tickets this year, Heller added. “I was lucky in that respect. But they didn’t let us sit upstairs (early in 2021). So in April, I was downstairs.”
Also sitting back of home plate on Wednesday was in the 300 level was Amber Ostrup, who was there with her son, Joseph, age 9. He was wearing the jersey of his favorite player - former Pirates’ star Roberto Clemente, who died about 40 years before Joseph was born.
But Ostrup was happy to be back at Nationals Park for the first time since the 2019 season.
“It is awesome, it is fantastic,” said the northern Virginia resident, wearing Nats gear. “Now we are together. Fresh air, you can smell the popcorn. We’re back!”
Her son plays Little League and his father once played golf with Ryan Zimmerman, who has been with the Nationals since the first season in 2005.
“He’s awesome with the kids,” Ostrup said of Zimmerman, the former University of Virginia standout.
Heller, meanwhile, has watched the career of Zimmerman and was on hand for the World Series games in 2019.
“The first World Series games I was ever at,” he said during the game Wednesday, won by the Nationals, 3-1.
And now Nationals Park is starting to fill up with the New York Mets coming to begin a series Friday.
“The Mets are coming to town,” closer Brad Hand said Wednesday.