WASHINGTON (DC News Now) – Ryan Zimmerman is known by the Nationals and their fans as “Mr. National,” “Mr. Walk off,” and “Employee number 11.” Zimmerman’s number 11 was officially retired by the team Saturday.
“Nobody thinks this is going to happen, nobody expects this to happen,” Zimmerman told DC News Now Saturday. “You don’t take it for granted. You appreciate it.”
Several notable former Nationals teammates of Ryan Zimmerman attended the Saturday’s ceremony, including Ian Desmond, Jayson Werth, Adam Laroche, Gio Gonzalez, Daniel Murphy and others.
“He’s just remarkable. This day was coming eventually and we all knew it,” Gonzalez, who played with Zimmerman from 2012-18 said. “We’re just waiting for the big old bronze statue of him someday out there in right field or in left field, that’s where he mostly hit them.”
The Nationals also unveiled a plaque of Zimmerman’s name and number along the front of the second level by first base in the stands, joining Werth as a player to receive that honor.
The entire weekend was dubbed “Ryan Zimmerman Weekend” by the Nats as they took on the Philadelphia Phillies, including another notable former Zimmerman teammate, Bryce Harper.
“It’s pretty cool to see this all come full circle and him being able to get his number retired and so many great memories,” Harper told DC News Now prior to the ceremony on Saturday. “Just everything that he’s done, you know, for this team, this organization, you know, he deserves all this.”
Zimmerman was the first player ever drafted by the Nationals in 2005 after the team moved from Montreal to Washington. He was selected with the fourth overall pick. Born in North Carolina, Zimmerman grew up in the Virginia Beach area and played baseball at the University of Virginia.
“He had such a big impact on on everything that the Nats have done since they’ve been here in DC,” Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle, who played at UVA and on the Nats with Zimmerman said. “So excited to see Zimmerman again and be a part of the day.”
Zimmerman’s most notable achievement in his 16 seasons as a National, was leading the franchise to its first and only World Series win in 2019. He coincidentally hit 11 walk off home runs in his career, earning silver slugger and gold glove awards along the way.
“Last night I was sitting around and I was thinking about Ryan,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. “You know when I always say go 1-and-0 every day, I mean he’s the definition of going 1-and-0 every day and winning his day.”
Zimmerman’s time with the Nationals is not done, they’re keeping him in the organization, naming him the organization’s Special Advisor for Baseball and Business Operations on Saturday.
“It doesn’t stop after today. I think you continue to go and I’ll be around,” Zimmerman said. “I mean, we’re gonna raise our kids here. I’m going to be involved with the team. So this is obviously a great honor and you know, life moves moves on after today as well.”