HOUSTON — After making his Major League debut in 2005, it wasn't until Tuesday night that Ryan Zimmerman played in his first World Series game.
As it turned out, the 15-year wait was well worth it.
In what marked the first World Series at-bat of his storied Washington Nationals career, Zimmerman made it a memorable one, hitting a home run to center field off of Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole. After Houston jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, Zimmerman's solo shot cut the Astros' lead in half, keeping the Nationals well within striking distance in what was expected to be a pitching battle.
That it was the 35-year-old Zimmerman who hit the first World Series home run in Nationals history is more than poetic considering that he was also the franchise's first draft pick in Washington after it relocated from Montreal in 2005. In the time since, Zimmerman has gone from promising rookie to 2-time All-Star to veteran presence, all while earning the nickname "Mr. National" for his association with the franchise.
"What he's done and meant for this team and this organization, he's really kind of the -- when you think of the Washington Nationals, he's the face of the franchise, he's the player you think of," pitcher Max Scherzer said of Zimmerman on Monday. "For him to be here this whole time, seen it from the good to the bad and now here we are in the World Series, that's a testament of what he's done and meant for this organization.
"As players, we're so happy for him, as well. He's such a great guy, great clubhouse guy. And we couldn't be happier for him, and especially the way he's producing in the postseason, as well."
When the Nationals punched their ticket to the World Series, it marked the end of Zimmerman's 15-year drought without a Fall Classic appearance, which tied for the longest in all of baseball.
It didn't take long for the first baseman to prove he was ready for the moment.