WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Eight members of the Washington Capitals took the field at RFK Memorial Stadium with the Washington Nationals before their game against the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday night, an appearance that was, by all accounts, a home run.
“It was tremendous,” said Capitals captain Chris Clark. “An unforgettable experience. It was a treat to take a few swings, field some fly balls and get to meet some of the Nationals.”
The night was highlighted by left wing Alex Ovechkin
throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, an offering he put right over the plate. Clark, Kris Beech, Matt Bradley, Steve Eminger, Jamie Heward, Brian Pothier and Brian Sutherby lined up behind the mound as the crowd – more than a handful in Caps jerseys – roared its approval.
Ovechkin, the 2006 Calder Memorial Trophy winner as the NHL rookie of the year, was the first Capital to step into the batter’s box during batting practice, to mixed results. He sprinkled a couple of line drives to the outfield before giving way to his teammates. Nationals hitting coach Mitchell Page offered tips to the hockey players.
Heward was the offensive star for the Capitals, sending one batting practice delivery over the left-field fence for a home run. He later took on Nats slugger Alfonso Soriano in a batting contest arranged by Page, with baseball’s latest member of the 40-40 club besting the Capitals defenseman from Regina, Saskatchewan.
Between stints in the batting cage, Ovechkin met Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, presenting him with an autographed baseball and wishing him luck in his chase for the National League Rookie of the Year award. After Ovechkin threw out the first pitch, the Capitals signed autographs for more than an hour on the RFK concourse.
At batting practice, members of the Nationals presented each of the Capitals with a bat, as well as souvenir hats and T-shirts.
“They are great hosts, and great athletes,” right wing Matt Bradley said as he watched the Nationals take batting practice. “Hopefully we can get some of them out on the ice at some point.”
The appearance was the latest in a series of cross-promotional ventures by the two franchises, efforts that include advertising and providing sales materials for each team in the other’s arena.
The Capitals close out their preseason schedule with a pair of home games this weekend: Friday, Sept. 29, against Philadelphia at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 1, against Carolina at 1 p.m. Both games can be heard on WashingtonCaps.com. The Capitals open the regular season on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the New York Rangers before returning to Verizon Center for the home opener on Saturday, Oct. 7, against the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes.