WASHINGTON – Let the mind wander back to last June when the Nationals were playing actual games and fans were allowed inside of Nationals Park.
Washington had a newcomer who was slugging homers on what seemed like a daily basis – that was Kyle Schwarber, who turns 29 on Saturday.
Signed as a free agent on Jan. 9, 2001, by the Nationals, the University of Indiana product slugged his way into the hearts of Washington fans.
Schwarber and Washington manager Dave Martinez had been with the Cubs before both found their way to Navy Yards.
“Davey was a big factor,” Schwarber said after his 1-year/$10M deal with the Nationals was announced, “and once I heard that they had interest, it was definitely something I wanted to pursue and we were able to work everything out and as soon as everything was in line I was ready to say yes right away and get this thing going and make this thing official.
“So, I’m honored to be here. I’m in the business of winning baseball games and I’m pretty sure that this group is all in that business as well from all the veterans on their staff to some of the youngest, exciting players in this game on the offensive side of the baseball.”
In just 72 games with the Nationals, he hit 25 home runs with 16 homers in one 18-day span.
He also hit 10 long balls in a 12-day stretch, something that only Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa had done previously.
Alas, it wouldn’t last.
Schwarber was injured.
The Nationals fell out of playoff contention and general manager Mike Rizzo began selling off his veterans just before the trade deadline.
Schwarber was dealt to the Boston Red Sox on July 29 for pitcher Aldo Ramirez, who was 1-1 with an ERA of 8.22 in four games with two starts with the Florida Complex League team after the trade from Boston.
Ramirez began the 2021 season with the Salem Red Sox in Virginia before the trade. He pitched in Florida for manager Jake Lowery, a Richmond native who will guide the Single-A Fredericksburg Nationals this year.
Born in Ohio on March 5, 1993, Schwarber was drafted out of Indiana by the Cubs as the fourth overall pick in 2014.
He couldn’t quite capture the magic with the Red Sox last year at that level he had with Washington.
Schwarber went deep seven times in 41 games for Boston.
Other March 5 birthdays: Former Baltimore and Houston outfielder L.J. Hoes was born March 5, 1990 in Washington, D.C.
He played at St. John’s College High in the District and turned down a scholarship to the University of North Carolina to sign with the Orioles in 2008.