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Outta Here!

My most sincere thanks to readers, friends, and colleagues for three great seasons of covering the Washington Nationals

MLB: AUG 30 Pirates at Brewers

The opportunity to write about the World Series champion Washington Nationals for my favorite blog community was really too good to pass up, at any price, really.

It was November 2019, and the Nats and baseball were at the peak of their popularity in Washington.

It seemed like a possible career break at the time when I noticed the opening at Federal Baseball and asked Patrick Reddington if I could join the team.

The past three seasons have been absolutely nothing like what I — or any Nats fan for that matter — might have envisioned.

Now, a month before the Nationals conclude their third straight last-place finish in the National League East since those triumphant days of 2019, I am a free agent sports journalist.

Even if I’d known ahead of time about the COVID-shortened season, learning to write stories off Zoom call transcripts, finishing hours before my day job the next morning, even enduring the two most intense trade deadlines of my lifetime, I wouldn’t have passed it up.

It was an opportunity to get paid for covering baseball, a dream I’d had since I was a teary-eyed 6-year-old hearing that my beloved Frank Howard and the Washington Senators were moving away.

During the 34-season absence of baseball in the nation’s capital, I inched toward that dream.

I received my first media credential on July 19, 1982, to cover the first Cracker Jack Old-Timer’s All-Star game as an unpaid intern for a Howard County weekly.

In that game, 75-year-old Luke Appling upstaged Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Joe DiMaggio by hitting a home run over the short left-field fence at RFK Stadium.

My next taste of baseball publication came when I worked for “Outside Pitch” magazine in Baltimore.

I managed the stadium sales crew and had pieces published in the magazine in the late 1990s, when Camden Yards was packed with fans of Cal Ripken Jr. and an Orioles team that make the postseason in 1996 and 97.

We also sold programs for exhibition games at RFK Stadium between the Montreal Expos and St. Louis Cardinals, and Alan Etter interviewed me for WTOP radio.

By 1994, I was employed full-time with a radio network and wire service and took my first business trip to Spring Training.

The ‘94 season, of course, would stop abruptly because of a labor dispute, and there were no playoffs or World Series.

Still, I got to interview members of the Orioles and Chicago White Sox, including some future Hall of Famers.

I also got a glimpse of a certain 6-foot-6 rookie who used to play basketball, high-tailing it out of the major league clubhouse when the press came in after he’d been sent to the minors.

Two years later, I was covering the NFL’s return to Baltimore with the Ravens (and the rest of the Maryland news) for a broadcast wire.

It was the first of three seasons I made a living covering the Ravens. That stint included a bylined story in The Washington Post.

The next year, I made it to the big leagues, myself, starting a nearly 10-year run with The Associated Press by covering the funeral of Cal Ripken Sr. and scooping The Baltimore Sun by reporting Ripken Jr.’s tearful eulogy.

In 2005, I was part of the team that broke the story of the Expos’ move to Washington and covered the Nationals’ first game at RFK Stadium.

Federal Baseball has been my third blog outlet since leaving The AP, and now I’m on the hunt for another productive and creative outlet for my baseball passion.

It’s been a privilege to work with Patrick, Blake Finney, David Driver, and the others whose work appeared alongside mine on FBB.

I’m also grateful to the members of the FBB community who have left incisive comments on my pieces and even pointed out my mistakes.

I’m always @martyball98 on Twitter, so you’ll be hearing from me there until we meet again.