WASHINGTON – (AP) – Longtime Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman announced his retirement Tuesday, ending a decorated career in which he became the franchise leader in many major categories and propelled the team to its only World Series championship.
Now 37, Zimmerman made it official in a public letter to ‘Dear DC’
“When we first met I was a 20 year old fresh out of the University of Virginia,” he wrote. “I had no idea how amazing the next 17 years of my life were going to be.”
Zimmerman was the first player drafted by the Nationals, chosen fourth overall in June 2005 in their first season after moving from Montreal to Washington. He made his major league debut in September and hit .397 in 20 games, giving a glimpse of what was to come.
“Ryan will forever be Mr. National. From home runs, to carrying the World Series trophy down Constitution Avenue, to the last day of the 2021 regular season when our fans gave him a standing ovation none of us will soon forget, Ryan gave us all 17 years of incredible memories,” team owner Mark Lerner said in a statement.
Popular and productive, Zimmerman has spent his entire career in Washington. He was a two-time All-Star, won a Golden Glove at third base and helped the Nationals reach the playoffs five times, capping off their 2019 title run.
In the NL wildcards game that year, Zimmerman’s two-out single against Milwaukee relief ace Josh Hader pulled off a three-run rally in the eighth inning for a 4-3 victory. He then hit the first World Series home run in franchise history, connecting against Houston ace Gerrit Cole in Game 1. Washington won in seven games.
Zimmerman set Nationals career records for RBIs (1,061), home runs (284), hits (1,846) and games (1,799), among other marks.
He batted .277 in 16 seasons with a career on-base percentage of .341 and a hitting percentage of .475. He also connected for 11 walk-in homers, the seventh-highest total of all time – these include a game-ending shot against NL rivals East Atlanta Braves on March 30, 2008, to win the first regular season game at Nationals Park, the team’s new stadium.
Zimmerman became the Nationals’ third baseman in 2006 and remained there full-time until 2013. After spending time in the outfield and infield in 2014, he took over at first base in 2015.
Zimmerman opted out of the pandemic-delayed 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I have a 3 week old baby. My mom has multiple sclerosis and is at very high risk,” Zimmerman wrote in an article for The Associated Press a month before the season started in late July.
Zimmerman returned last year and hit .243 with 14 home runs and 46 RBIs in 110 games. His wife, Heather, gave birth to the couple’s fourth child last month.
“Although my baseball career is over, my family and I will continue to be heavily involved in the DMV community,” Zimmerman wrote in his retirement announcement.
“You have given us so much over the past 17 years; now is the time for us to give back to you. We look forward to continuing many of our community programs and launching new ones in the future. Our children will be raised here, as it is now our home, and we couldn’t be more excited. So it’s not a goodbye but rather a “see you soon”, “he said.
Zimmerman created the ziMS Foundation in 2006 to help people with multiple sclerosis and, with his wife, created the Pros for Heroes COVID-19 Relief Fund in 2020.
Zimmerman has been nominated six times by the Nationals for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Major League Baseball.
“Ryan’s numbers and achievements speak for themselves, but the way he led by example and was respected not just in our clubhouse but around the game – that’s what I will remember on most of his career,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.
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