11 highlights from retiring No. 11

June 22nd, 2022

This story was excerpted from Jessica Camerato’s Nationals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Nationals celebrated the illustrious 16-year career of Employee No. 11 this past weekend at Nationals Park, with festivities that included Ryan Zimmerman’s friends, family, former and current teammates. Here are 11 highlights from the event.

1. Zimmerman, who became emotional at several points throughout his ceremony, began his speech by saying, "This is by far the most nervous I've ever felt on this field.”

2. The notion of having his number retired was far from his imagination when Zimmerman joined the Nationals organization in 2005: “I was just happy to get drafted, to be honest with you. We all pretend to be this person when you’re little, but nobody ever believes it’s going to happen, I think. I would’ve laughed, I guess, if someone told me that.”

3. When asked about the meaning of being known as “Mr. National,” Zimmerman quickly replied, “I’ve been here a long time. I’ve always said that I got lucky to play and be here for a long time.”

4. A tribute video included messages from Daniel Hudson, Sean Doolittle, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Craig Stammen, Yan Gomes, Nick Johnson, Dusty Baker, Trea Turner, James Brown, Mark DeRosa, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Grandpa Zim.

5. The event was attended by former teammates Brian Schneider, Jordan Zimmermann, Laynce Nix, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Gio González, Daniel Murphy and Jordy Mercer.

6. Werth credited Zimmerman for being “one of the main reasons why I came to Washington” in 2010. “Without him, this franchise is in a different place,” Werth said.

7. Espinosa said Zimmerman “deserved every bit” of his special weekend: “He was a very good leader ... a very good representation of a role model of what you would tell your kids to look at and model their careers and life after.”

8. In addition to “Mr. National,” Desmond had his own nickname for Zimmerman: “The time, effort and energy that he put into the organization, the loyalty to stay through it all, everything that Ryan’s about, this is why people come out. He’s just Mr. Consistent.”

9. Nix and Mercer echoed each other when talking about the impact Zimmerman made on each of them in just one season: “We were able to firsthand see the same guy off the field and on the field, how he stayed steady all the time and put up the numbers that he did. We wouldn’t be happier for any other teammate to get this kind of honor.”

10. Zimmerman was introduced to the stage to “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw, and the ceremony concluded with his walkup music, “Whatever You Like” by T.I. 

11. Continuing his involvement with the organization, Zimmerman was appointed as special advisor for baseball and business operations for the Nationals.