A special family of fans brings a youthful love of the #Nats

You’ve seen her. You no doubt already love her. Now, it’s time to get to know her. Meet Ella Kane, the adorable, excitable 8-year-old behind one of the greatest gifs of all time.

The Kane clan is 7 members strong, and is brimming with Natitude. Mom, Meaghan Kane, grew up a Chicago White Sox fan, but has converted to the local team — Washington Nationals. Dad, Patrick Kane,  grew up an O’s fan, and I’m told he still harbors some feelings for those birds north of us, but we’ll give him a pass because his kids definitely bleed Nats red. Ella is the second oldest of five kids in the Kane family. Her older brother Matthew, 10, and younger brother Jimmy, 6, both play Little League. Matthew plays all over the infield, while Jimmy splits his time between 2B and behind the dish. Both boys rock the Curly W in their games, as the Nats sponsor their local Little League in Virginia. While Ella doesn’t play organized baseball, she does play with her brothers and other kids in the neighborhood (fun fact – this little slice of baseball heaven has enough kids to field two complete baseball teams if everyone decides to play on any given day).

Ella found herself at Nationals Park last year on July 7th to watch the Nats take on the Braves. It was Little League Day, so her two ball-playing brothers had tickets. Patrick grabbed some extra tickets for himself, Ella, Ella’s youngest brother Benji, 5, and two visiting exchange students from Spain, and headed off to the ballpark. Meaghan stayed home with newborn daughter Lydia and her mom. The Nats were trailing 4-1 headed into the bottom of the 9th when the home team managed to rally against the Braves closer and tie it up, sending the game into extra innings.

“I was really hoping they hadn’t left,” Meaghan told me. “It was late, but the game was so exciting. I was scared they had left.”

Matt Grace and Matt Albers combined to keep the Braves off the board in the top of the 10th, and the Nats offense went right back to work in the home half of the inning. With 1 out and runners at the corners, magic happened. As Meaghan was trying to remember who had the walk off hit.

Matthew interjected with authority, “It was Daniel Murphy.”

Matthew has an excellent memory, because Murphy did indeed hit the ball to left field, scoring Adrian Sanchez from third to clinch the victory. Meaghan was celebrating the win from home while hoping that her family had stuck around to see it.

“My mom yelled ‘oh my God, that’s my granddaughter!’ at the TV,” Meaghan said.

And there Ella was, in all her fanatical glory, cheering for the Nats win the way a walk-off truly deserves to be celebrated in Nationals Park. The gif, of course, is part of a larger video that MASN captured. Patrick said that everyone made the broadcast that night.

“I was next to Ella holding Benji, he was done,” as the youngest family member in attendance that night had fallen asleep. “Jimmy and Matthew were on the other side of Ella.”

Meaghan said that a classmate of Ella’s recorded the game and sent her the clip of the family’s shining moment on TV. The video made its way beyond the reach of the MASN broadcast, too.

“My dad called me in the morning and said ‘I just saw my granddaughter on [ESPN] Sports Center!’”

Asked what it was like to be on TV and be a gif, Ella played it pretty cool.

“It’s pretty nice for my first time being on TV,” Ella said.

Her goal is to get on TV again at some point in the future. Solid goal, Ella. Keep up the enthusiasm, and I have no doubt we’ll see you again.

While Ella is clamoring to get back to Nats Park as soon as possible, she hasn’t always been so enthralled with baseball. She said that at the beginning she only liked the commercials. and still liked them, and that the commercials are really funny.  She does watch the games, and is a big Nats fan.

Her mom laughed at this confession and said it’s good to be honest. Meaghan definitely seems to be the driving force of intense baseball fandom in this family. She played softball when she was younger, and said that growing up, spending time with her dad often involved watching sports, so she was raised with a strong love of the game. Ella has been learning the rules of baseball while watching Nats games with her mom and while watching her brothers play.

Meaghan also carries the intense ‘fan gene’ and that seems to be where Ella gets the intense spirit we all saw captured live on MASN a year ago and in the gif. Meaghan admitted that she finds herself getting rambunctious at the Nats games, and has been known to even yell during Little League match-ups. “I like to call it excited cheerleading,” she told me. Some would say it is real passion for your team and all part of being a great fan.

Matthew Kane said he definitely hears his mom in the stands when he’s playing in a game. The next time someone says something to me about yelling at the TV while watching sports, I’m going to shush them and telling them I’m merely engaging in some excited cheerleading. Full disclosure – I’ll be using this phrase a lot in my future.

The Nats enthusiasm definitely extends beyond Meaghan and Ella in the Kane household. All the kids are into the team, and each have their own favorite player. Ella loves Bryce Harper, while Matthew says Anthony Rendon is his favorite. Despite Matthew’s favoritism, he still recognizes the talent in other players. When Patrick told me his favorite was Michael A. Taylor. 

“He is so good. He always catches the ball – he never drops it,” Matthew said. “He has diving catches, and he takes good routes, and he’s fast.”

Matthew definitely knows his baseball. As a catcher himself, little brother Jimmy loves Matt Wieters, however his favorite guy is Trea Turner. I’m told Jimmy’s favorite thing to do on a baseball diamond is slide, so his love of the speedy Nats shortstop makes perfect sense.

“[My son Jimmy] slides when he doesn’t have to,” Patrick laughed. “Jimmy slides into first. We have video of a totally unnecessary slide at home when the ball was still in the outfield.”

Matthew explained that MASN color announcer F.P. Santangelo often says the best uniforms are dirty ones. Jimmy takes that to heart about making sure he gets his dirty jersey. I do not envy the laundry situation Meaghan has going on, but I love Jimmy’s enthusiasm. Youngest brother Benji is partial to Danial Murphy, and Meaghan loves pitching ace Max Scherzer. I should note that Ella was sporting a Scherzer shirsey while we were talking.

I asked Ella if she was always as enthusiastic about Nats baseball as she was in her gif. Ella smiled, and Meaghan said “you’re always that enthusiastic about life. Ella has a zest for life.” This was evident in the short time I got to spend with her and her family. She has a bright, bubbly personality that is infectious to be around. I enjoyed getting to know her and her family, and I look forward to her gracing my television again during a game broadcast.

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