Editor’s Note: Since this story was published, the Nationals have announced they will be hosting 5,000 fans per game beginning on Opening Day. Discussions have already begun with officials from the District about increasing capacity for the second home stand, which begins April 15.
In the canon of things that are considered uniquely American, baseball and apple pie tend to take the top spots. While one of those things got a boost during the pandemic (remember all that #quarantinebaking?), the other took a hit. Last season, MLB players ran the bases in empty stadiums, a tableau that threw the impact of COVID-19 into sharp relief.
Yes, missing out on a baseball game in the middle of a global pandemic that’s claimed hundreds of thousands of lives is certainly not the most dire of consequences, but even the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci—who also happens to be a Washington Nationals superfan—has lamented a summer without baseball. And while, as of press time, the MLB and the Washington Nationals hadn’t yet announced plans for allowing fans back into stadiums this season, there are glimmers of hope.
Teams allowed a limited number of fans in the stands for spring training. The Nationals, like other teams, have tickets on sale for 2021 games, and Fauci himself told ESPN recently that he’s hopeful at some point this summer he’ll be able to see his beloved Nationals play in person. “We could have a pretty good chance of having a baseball season that’s a full season,” he said back in February on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight podcast. “That we could have people in the stands, maybe not right next to each other; there are going to be public health restrictions like mask wearing and things like that.” So when the Nats take on the Mets on opening day April 1, fans shouldn’t despair. If case numbers keep dropping, we may still get that summer of baseball we’ve all been dreaming about. In the meantime, stock up on Nats face masks so you’ll be ready when officials open the gates.
This story originally ran in our April issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.