The park's name echoes the original name of the early-1900s ballpark used by the Washington Senators/Nationals, which was called National Park until it was rebuilt and renamed Griffith Stadium.
The Nationals opened the 2008 MLB season in Nationals Park with a rare one-game series against the Atlanta Braves on March 30, which served as the first official MLB game at the park. True to tradition, President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The Nationals defeated the Braves 3–2 with a walk-off home run from Ryan Zimmerman, giving the Nationals their first opening day win since moving to Washington. Chipper Jones of the Braves hit the first batted ball and first home run, while the Nationals' Cristian Guzman got the first base hit.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Zimmerman's game-winning home run was the third walk-off home run in major-league history to be hit in the first MLB game played at a stadium. The game was the most-watched MLB opening night in the history of ESPN.
Nationals mascot Screech entertains the crowd during the seventh inning stretch. Screech has entertained thousands since Washington brought baseball back to the nation's capital in 2005. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
Up a flight of stairs behind the scoreboard in right field is the Scoreboard Walk. More food choices are being planned in the area the next season.(Photo: Gordon Donovan)
The ballpark as seen from the middle deck with the capitol building visible in between the new buildings under construction beyond the outfield wall. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
The one guy Met fans do not want to see on the mound. Oliver Perez comes into the dugout after loosening up in the bullpen to start for New York. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
As for the game, the Mets were shut out for the fifth time in 13 games, this time 4-0 by the Nationals. Nats lefthander John Lannan now has two career complete games, both against the Mets, and his first career shutout. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
Leaving Nationals Park by the home plate exit facing the Anacostia River. The park's name echoes the original name of the early-1900s ballpark used by the Washington Senators/Nationals, which was called National Park until it was rebuilt and renamed Griffith Stadium. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
New York Mets all-star third baseman David Wright takes a break during the game's action. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
Once the game started it was baseball as usual - a family in front of us brought their youngest son to his first game. To my left were several Mets fans screaming. One fan was on a cell phone doing a play-by-play before being asked to put the phone away. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
Gatorade coolers sit alongside the bullpen phones in the Nationals bullpen in right field. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
The Nationals Park logo on the right field wall. The 2008 Washington Nationals season was the team's first in Nationals Park. The Nats opened the 2008 MLB season in Nationals Park with a rare one-game series against the Atlanta Braves on March 30, which served as the first official MLB game at the park. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
The Mount Rushmore Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and George Washington entertain the crowd during practice. One of the park's charms is the race between the presidents of Mount Rushmore every home game. Teddy has never won a race. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
One of the few bright spots of the Washington Nationals is third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman prepares to clobber a pitch from Mets pitcher Oliver Perez. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
Fans are permitted to watch batting practice only in the center field area. They are permitted to enter the field seats at 5:20, just as the Nationals wrap up batting practice. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
The center field gates open at 4:40 p.m. You find changes from the previous season upon entering the park, like statues of former Washington Senators stars like slugger Frank Howard, front and Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
A year ago, the streets near the ballpark were empty. Now, the area has developed a baseball atmosphere. Merchandise and food vendors now occupy the streets selling their goods. Several vendors showed their team spirit by yelling at Mets fans in town to have them play the Nats. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
Some fluffy white clouds float in from the south over Washington D.C. and Nationals Park. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
Seats in the field level of Nationals Park. (Gordon Donovan)
The crowd was small for the last-place Nationals. There were many Met fans who traveled from New York in attendance. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)v
The park has an out-of-town scoreboard, which is 102 feet long, installed in the right field wall. The main scoreboard, at 101 feet long and 47 feet high, is more than five times the size of the one at RFK Stadium. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
We grabbed some food, chicken fingers and fries, which we had to return because they were still cold. The chicken fingers and fries were good when hot, and the bratwurst was also great. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
The center field area has a large food court with the Strike Zone and assorted venues for kids and restaurants. Before the start of the game, you can get your photo taken with the Mount Rushmore Presidents. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
Two Nationals fans wear Adam Dunn jerseys as part of a fan give away this day. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
Ballpark: B - Great new ballpark, great scene for families and kids. Just need a better front office to improve the team and increase fan base.
Fans & Atmosphere: B - Great baseball scene for a new franchise that will lose about 115 games this year. Several ballpark improvement projects were completed by the Nationals during the off-season to improve the park.
Food: B - Chicken fingers with fries, bratwurst hero, popcorn, lemonade, water for 34 dollars.
Mascot: A - Screech the Eagle and the Mount Rushmore Presidents. The Presidents race every game with Teddy Roosevelt has never won a race in the four years the Nationals have played in D.C.
Staff: B - Great and friendly staff, found one or two ushers unpleasant who discouraged booing.
Team Tradition: C - They don't acknowledge the Expos past and honor the two Washington Senators franchises that left town. The Nationals continue the nation's capital's baseball tradition of being first in war, first in peace and last in the National League East.
Location: A - Nationals Park is located in the Southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. on a block of South Capitol Street called Taxation Without Representation Street (a main artery separating Southeast from Southwest Washington) at the Anacostia River waterfront.
Photos taken July 21, 2009 using a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Digital SLR with a EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Standard Zoom Lens, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens.