They call him FoF, Mr. National, and Mr. Walk-off; Fourteen years ago, he achieved a first in his career!

He is known as Mr. Walk-off; Original artwork photo courtesy of Andrew Lang

He is the original. A one-of-a-kind. Ryan Zimmerman was the Washington Nationals first draft pick ever selected, and it paid dividends immediately as he became the “Face of the Franchise” (FoF) for a team that lacked star power for years. While he might have faded in star appeal as his age and injuries piled up, he is still the most beloved Nat. With eleven career walk-off homers, he became affectionately known as “Mr. Walk-off” and “Mr. National”. It was fourteen years ago today when the rookie hit his first career home run in Shea Stadium in the second game of the season. It was a bomb pulled down the line that hung a blown save on Billy Wagner of the Mets. 

To date, Zimmerman has 275 career home runs with 270 in the regular season. He surpassed the popular Frank Howard in 2017 when he hit his 238th career home run to make him Washington D.C.’s all-time home run leader. The Capitol Punisher was a long-time Washington Senators favorite and is chiseled in a sculpture at the homeplate entrance at Nationals Park.

“I never really hit home runs in high school or college or anywhere,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve had a chance to meet [Howard] a couple of times, and I obviously respect him a ton and what he did. He hit a ton more home runs, just not here [for the Senators]. But it’s a really cool honor and I’m proud of it.”

Zimmerman just gave a tour of his home on a virtual Zoom video chat set-up by radio personality and Nats’ fan Kelly Collis. Zim showed his own memorabilia collection and his man-cave. Thanks to Kelly, I was part of the chat. You have to wonder now what Ryan’s favorite piece is now that he has walk-off home runs and a key World Series blast off of Gerrit Cole.

To have a career that spans over sixteen seasons has to bring so many memories that over time will become debatable as to the greatest moment or moments of a great career.

“It’s been a long ride,” Zimmerman said after hitting his first World Series home run. “Especially to start the way we did and the way we’ve been playing the last couple of months. First at-bat to hit a home run and run around the bases, and you’re kind of almost floating around the bases.”

The Nats won their first World Series game on that day. If Zim did not get his team on the board, who knows what happens.

“I’ll be honest with you, my eyes got a little watery for him,” manager Dave Martinez said.. “He waited a long time to be in this position, and for him to hit that first home run and put us on the board was awesome.”

It was fitting at the premiere of the Washington Nationals documentary for winning the World Series that it was Zim who carried out the trophy.

Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

His career has been a series of firsts, and we will wait and see how his final baseball chapters will be written and if there are any other firsts to still be achieved. By the way, the Zimmermans are expecting the birth of their first son in two months. Congratulations on this anniversary Zim!

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