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Denard Span did not expect to return to Washington, D.C.
He was born here unexpectedly. His mother, who went to the University of the District of Columbia, was in the city visiting friends when she suddenly went into labor 29 years ago.
Now Span is back, though in a very grown-up capacity. The new leadoff hitter and star center fielder for the Washington Nationals is getting to know the city — and his new baseball team — one step at a time.
“I figured out how to get to the grocery store yesterday,” Span said, speaking to CQ Roll Call in the Nationals dugout. “I know how to get from my apartment to the ballpark with my GPS.”
Span’s demanding schedule with the Nationals has afforded him limited opportunities to explore the D.C. area since he came over from the Minnesota Twins in a November trade. Span visited the Library of Congress after opening day to view what Abraham Lincoln had in his pockets the night he died, an anecdote he shared with his more than 50,000 Twitter followers. Span admits he usually eats at chain restaurants near his Crystal City, Va., apartment but said he has ventured to Oohhs and Aahhs and Ben’s Chili Bowl, both on U Street Northwest, for what he calls the “original D.C. places.”
“There’s so much to see here. I don’t know where to begin. They need to have a chronological order to the city. Hoping to have enough time here to do that,” he said. “I see myself coming back [to D.C.] during the offseason.”D.C. Community
Span’s interest in Washington, D.C., is more about the people of the community than the politicians it houses. He doesn’t follow politics, though he said he had been excited to tour the White House during the offseason and would like a chance to see the inside of the Capitol.
The off-field interest he’s most invested in is Span’s Fans, his community outreach effort with the Nationals that brings single-parent families to the ballpark. The families get to watch batting practice, meet Span and get his autograph and watch the game with refreshments. Span pays for the tickets and food himself.
“Just wrote the check yesterday” he said with a grin. He calls his community work some of his most important.