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Looking back at Nats Park Opener

On this day in 2008, Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off homer to beat the Braves in new stadium debut …

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Robert C. Knudsen/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Ryan Zimmerman has retired – but the memories he created live on.

On this day 14 years ago, on March 30, 2008, Zimmerman hit a walk-off homer against Atlanta reliever Peter Moylan with two outs in the last of the ninth to give the Nationals a 3-2 win in the first regular-season game at Nationals Park.

The homer to center field came on a 2-2 pitch from Moylan, who had retired Cristian Guzmàn and Lastings Milledge to begin the home ninth.

The game began at 8:21 p.m. on a Sunday and lasted 2:22.

The homer made a winner out of Washington reliever Jon Rauch, who had blown the save in the top of the ninth as the Braves tied the game on a passed ball.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals

It was the 45th homer in the young career of Zimmerman, who didn’t go deep in his first stint in the majors at the end of the 2005 season.

In two full seasons at RFK Stadium, in 2006 and 2007, the University of Virginia product and North Carolina native hit a combined 44 homers.

The starting lineup for the Nationals in that first game at Nationals Park was shortstop Guzman, center fielder Milledge, third baseman Zimmerman, first baseman Nick Johnson, right fielder Austin Kearns, catcher Paul Lo Duca, left fielder Elijah Dukes, second baseman Ronnie Belliard, and starting pitcher Odalis Perez.

Willie Harris replaced Dukes in left field and was 0-for-1 at the plate. Harris was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and after his playing career was the Double-A manager for Richmond in the San Francisco system.

Harris was a coach for the Cubs in 2021.

Perez went five innings in that game and allowed one run on four hits. Other relievers for Washington in that game were Saul Rivera, Ray King, and Luis Ayala.

And Zimmerman today?

He announced his retirement earlier this season; his wife, Heather, posted on social media a photo of the family at the beach, enjoying a rare “spring break” after her husband spent his adult life as a player with the Nationals.

Boston Red Sox v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Also on this day, in 2012, according to, veteran pitcher and former/future National right-hander Livàn Hernàndez was signed by the Braves after he was let go by Atlanta.

On March 30, 1952, former pitcher Deacon Phillippe died in Avalon, Pennsylvania. He was born in Rural Retreat in southwest Virginia and was the winning pitcher in the first World Series game in 1903 for Pittsburgh as he beat Cy Young of Boston.