Nationals’ Parade Draws Thousands as D.C. Celebrates Its Latest Champions

WASHINGTON — For the second year in a row, the stretch of Constitution Avenue that runs along the National Mall swelled with an unfamiliar...

WASHINGTON — For the second year in a row, the stretch of Constitution Avenue that runs along the National Mall swelled with an unfamiliar demographic: neither tourists nor demonstrators, but a merry sea of red-clad local fans.

Still buzzing with enthusiasm from the Washington Nationals’ improbable run to a World Series title last week, thousands flocked to the team’s victory parade on Saturday, lining the street, filling the steps of the National Archives and climbing to ambitious heights in the stand of trees outside the United States District Courthouse.

Some attendees arrived with homemade posters reading “19-31,” the team’s sour record at a low point in the regular season, from which they bounced back to qualify for the playoffs. Many more held signs reading “Fight Finished,” a play on the “Finish the Fight” motto supporters plugged throughout the multiple elimination games the team survived.

At the end of the parade route on Third Street, many players gave speeches touching on related themes, and the unlikely odds the team faced of reaching the title.

Howie Kendrick, the team’s second baseman, repeated a phrase borrowed from the team’s manager, David Martinez, earlier in the playoffs. “Bumpy roads do lead to beautiful places,” he said. “And this trophy right here is proof of that.”

For many fans who followed the Nationals through the World Series, the day provided the first opportunity to revel in victory at home. Over the seven-game series, no home team managed a win — a first in the history of Major League Baseball — forcing most local fans in both Houston and Washington to watch their teams’ successes on television. After the Nationals won the opening two games in Houston, many in the capital rushed to pick up tickets, some shelling out thousands of dollars, in the hopes of seeing their team clinch the title at Nationals Park, only to witness the Astros clinch the ensuing three games by dominant margins.

With the championship on the line in the seventh game on Wednesday, thousands of fans huddled under stormy skies for four hours at Nationals Park to watch a live stream of the final game. For many there, the parade on Saturday offered an upbeat coda — clear, sunny skies, and the novel sight of gratified players celebrating in their home city.

With the World Series title, the Nationals finally ended a maddeningly ill-fated stretch for baseball lovers in Washington. The last local team to hold the title of World Series champion was the Washington Senators in 1924.

“I actually saw their very first game that they played at R.F.K. Stadium,” said Dan Mulholland of Frederick, Md. “They never exceeded their expectations, they didn’t always even meet their expectations, but this year, the exciting thing is they stuck together as a team and they exceeded every expectation.”

For a city whose professional sports teams have long been stalked by misfortune and defined by failure, the extravaganza hinted at the establishment of a new, more formidable identity.

Marching down Constitution Avenue, Nationals players and fans retraced much of the same route that the Washington Capitals paraded down last year after bringing home the Stanley Cup for the first time in their team’s history. And the city is expected to hold its third championship parade in the spring to honor the Washington Mystics, who won their team’s first W.N.B.A. championship last month.

President Trump, who found himself the target of boos and “lock him up” chants when he attended Game 5 last Sunday, has invited the team to visit the White House on Monday. How many players will actually show up remains an open question. As has happened with other winning teams in the Trump era, the president’s invitation to celebrate at the White House has spurred unease among some members of the Nationals. Sean Doolittle, the star reliever who has been vocal on social issues, including Syrian refugees, announced Saturday that he would not attend.

Fans who have watched the Nationals since their first season in Washington in 2005 noted how reluctantly baseball was received in the city, and how disappointing it was to watch the team fall short for more than a decade.

“When the Nats first came down here there were all these naysayers who kept saying ‘D.C. is not a baseball town, nobody cares,’” said Patrick Jackson, who watched the final game among the crowd at Nationals Park on Wednesday.

“For anybody who stuck with it, this is just extremely gratifying,” he said.

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Newsrust: Nationals’ Parade Draws Thousands as D.C. Celebrates Its Latest Champions
Nationals’ Parade Draws Thousands as D.C. Celebrates Its Latest Champions
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