Friday, August 07, 2009
Before being traded on August 31, 2006 to The Atlanta Braves for Pitcher Luis Altilano, Daryle Ward (sold back to DC's Team yesterday) played in 78 fairly memorable games for Our Washington Nationals. Pinch Hit Man Extraordinaire that season and spot starter, he donned Jersey Number 31-- John Lannan's Number today. Ward was a fan favorite for his clutch hits and his charm displayed when upon returning to the 3rd Base Dugout at RFK Stadium after a successful At-Bat--he would stand and salute his teammates greeting him at the top of the steps.
Salutations returned in kind by everyone rooting for Washington on May 23rd, 2006 when Daryle Ward jacked out one of the most majestic home runs in the short baseball history of The East Capitol Street Ballpark. My Favorite Player Of All Time!! Frank Howard certainly had his share at The Old Ballyard playing for The Washington Senators. White seats painted in the Upper Deck to recognize his many exploits of power.
Ryan Zimmerman too--he of a titanic blast off David Wells of The San Diego Padres on June 3rd, 2007 that reached into Section 533 third row--on the aisle--during a misty, rainy and foggy day. The nearby seat where that baseball eventually came down to earth--now on permanent display inside The Diamond Club at Nationals Park--alongside one of Howard's White Marked Smashes.
Hondo's and Zimmy's memorable moments easy to recall and enjoy--but none of those homers were quite like Daryle Ward's Launched Missile on a FULL MOON SPRING NIGHT.
Our Washington Nationals were in the midst of a very close and well played ball game--leading The Houston Astros 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning. Our Then Manager Frank Robinson sent Ward to the plate to bat for Reliever Gary Majewski. Russ Springer was on the mound for The Astros. "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" warming up in Our Nationals Bullpen.
Being patient, a Ward trademark at the plate, Russ Springer fell behind in the count--3 Balls to 1 Strike--when The Houston reliever couldn't get Daryle to bite on his stuff in the dirt. The setup for The Shot Sent To The Moon. The heavenly body satellite was shining in all its full glory--and situated at the perfect moment in time--directly above RFK's swooping rooftop--down the right field line--directly above the Foul Pole.
As 23,189 looked on during this cool 67 Degree night--Daryle Ward sent Russ Springer's belt high fastball on an otherworldly trajectory. Swinging and connecting on one thrown baseball as well as ANYONE will ever do in this great game--Ward launched this moonshot so high--it cleared the saucer roof of the Old Ballyard projecting skyward. From our vantage point in Section 320 behind Washington's 3rd Base Home Dugout--the baseball appeared heading directly toward that Full Moon hanging in the sky.
NASA's best scientists could not have planned a better rocket launch.
The crack of Ward's bat first brought total silence to the usually reverberating park. No one could believe what they were witnessing. The Home Run's Flight so majestic everyone looked on in awe. Astros Rightfielder Jason Lane didn't move his planted feet from their set position. Lane just twisted his head and kept on looking up and up and up--over his left shoulder.
Launch Pad 31 stood at home plate admiring his work. And well he should have, because the resulting trot around the bases set off a Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! not quite like so many others. Daryle Ward had stunned everybody on hand at RFK Stadium. And when that baseball finally fell back to earth--bouncing off the concrete support of The Yellow Seats--Section 549--The Front Row--everyone on hand wondered whether that baseball may well have travelled equal distance--both in height skyward and length carried.
Ward standing at salute upon reaching the dugout. Even Frank Robinson saluted back--like a proud Papa!!
Just an incredible moment and one never to be forgotten. So stunning that the shaken Springer never really recovered and two pitches later Alfonso Soriano launched a rocket of his own--another solo home run that caromed off The Washington Nationals Clock in right centerfield at RFK Stadium. The only such homer to do JUST THAT (which we can recall) in all three years Our Washington Nationals played at RFK Stadium.
Back To Back Jacks that sent The Old Ballyard Into A Tizzy. And providing the necessary comfort zone for "The Chief"--Chad Cordero--to earn his then 6th save of 2006.
No question about it--Ward's home run was a beauty--everything about it--including the setup--PERFECT. Soriano's second lightening strike adding to the mystic.
If Daryle Ward dons a Nationals Jersey sometime later this season--just the opportunity to see him try again and hopefully repeat the feat at Nationals Park--worth whatever small change Our Washington Nationals paid The Chicago White Sox to pick him up. Like Adam Dunn, Ward could reach The Scoreboard Walk on South Capitol Street. Now that would be another MOON SHOT like no other.
Ward Photo Credit--Mark Goldman (UPI)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved