Alexandria has connections with the Nats

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The Washington Nationals may be in last place in the National League East Division, but they still hold great interest for one Alexandrian who works on the grounds crew.

Joe Shabelski is the St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes varsity wrestling coach during the winter season and also maintains the Nationals Stadium turf and field conditions from April through September.

Shabelski (SSSA 92) did the same yeomen work at RFK Stadium when the Nationals played in the District of Columbia during their first three seasons.

One of Shabelskis top wrestlers this past winter, Michael Slabinski, graduated a few weeks ago and will attend Gettysburg College in the fall.

Michael had over 100 career wins and definitely is in the top-20 for career wins here at St. Stephens, Shabelski recently said.

In staying with the topic of the Washington Nationals, Congressman Jim Moran is a fairly regular attendee at the games as is Ireton athletic director Bill Simmons. In addition, former T.C. Williams principal Mel Riddile and current Mount Vernon Director of Student Activities Bernie Forte have been seen at a number of games. Former Edison Eagle Ben Stokes has also taken in a number of games. Stokes, who played both basketball and baseball at Edison, is currently a member of the Mary Washington University men’s basketball team.

One of the Nats’ high-profile ushers is Ron Simms, the former Hayfield Hawk baseball coach. Simms maintains a presence behind the Washington Nationals dugout area,

This writer, who is also a very regular vendor at the Nats games, can testify to the validity of the above.

In fact, when the Nats trail heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, the very large scoreboard in center field plays a motivational video with the purpose of inspiring the home team. One of the segments of the video includes a scene from Remember The Titans in which Denzel Washington instructs the Titans that we have to be perfect.

Another interesting Alexandria-related feature of the Nats games is that beyond left-center field in the concourse area are the 82 names that are displayed on the huge wall listing the WASHINGTON HALL OF STARS, ranging from former Washington Senators to Washington Redskins to Olympic athletes as well as many other categories.

-David Steinbacher

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