Trea Turner Bobblehead Night at Nationals Park was originally scheduled for Friday May 12. Unfortunately, the series-opener between the Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies was rained out and moved to Sunday — along with the giveaway for Turner’s bobblehead, creating a day-night doubleheader between the two teams. The second game which was scheduled for first pitch at 7:05 p.m. was to be the makeup for Friday’s rain-out.
The team previously announced gates would open for admission one hour and 30 minutes after completion of the first game or 6:00 p.m. whichever was later. The first 25,000 fans would receive the bobblehead. However, the first game ended at 4:38 p.m., meaning the gates would not open until approximately 6:10 p.m. With the first pitch being 7:05 the ballpark ushers and officials only had 55 minutes to shoe-in thousands of fans through the security and the gates before the first pitch.
That’s a short time on any given night, throw in the fact it was a bobblehead night, yeah there lays a problem. Usually for games that start around 7:00 p.m., gates are open at 5:00 p.m. allowing ample time for fans to grab their bobblehead and the lines being dissipated long before first pitch. But Sunday night was to be different thanks to the first game. Throw in the fact it was Teacher’s Appreciation Night, which was too originally scheduled for Friday – teachers were awarded an additional giveaway of Nationals’ water canteens — mass confusion was bound to happen.
Shortly after the end of the first game, lines began to form — most fans either did not see or ignored the fact the team previously announced gates wouldn’t open no earlier than 6:00 p.m. Those fans packed up and down the streets leading to the centerfield entrance, expanding as far as the Navy Yard Metro station.
The lines continued to grow as the first pitch approached. Fans shared their frustrating stories, which included shouting matches between fans due to cutting in line.
Slight wait to get into Nats Park for the night game. pic.twitter.com/cq62VVQGMB
— Heung-Min GustafSon (@kgustafson) May 14, 2017
— CFTC Defense Man (@GregoryMocek) May 14, 2017
I've never seen such madness as Nats park on bobblehead day. Toxically aggressive dudes screaming at other ppl.
— Elizabeth Baylor (@littlebethb) May 14, 2017
— John A. Nader (@jnader31) May 14, 2017
That's a long line at 655 pic.twitter.com/MgM54cYAS0
— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) May 14, 2017
— Bob Bradford (@rva_bob) May 14, 2017
— Lisa (@jacqueslisa) May 14, 2017
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgeccastillo) May 14, 2017
— William Sullivan (@BillSullivan02) May 14, 2017
Unknowing to the situation, was I with my wife and two children. I was to enjoy the game as a fan thanks to my wife’s occupation as part of Teacher Appreciation Night. I knew the gates were not to open until at least 6:00 p.m. When we left our home in suburban Maryland at roughly 5:15 we stopped to grab a bite to eat, in part to give workers time to clear and reopen the ballpark from game 1 to game 2 and my children were simply hungry.
Throw in the fact that I turned off my internet connection on my cellphone to preserve battery power while riding Metro into the ballpark, I was completely unaware of the madness that was occurring for Turner bobbleheads. So I was not on my Twitter feed seeing the massive complaints about long waits, parade like lines, and frustrated fans cursing each other outs while panicking there would be no Turner bobbles for them.
My family and I arrived to Half Street at approximately at 7:05 p.m. we were able to walk right in, and at the frantic urging of the gate attendants grab us four bobbleheads with not even at split-second of hesitation. We found our seats and enjoyed the game as Scherzer was surrendering a one-out single to Odubel Herrera. My initial thoughts at the time, oh yeah, guess there isn’t 25,000 fans in attendance.
In all honesty it was not until the end of the sixth inning when I became aware of what happened earlier. This one time being late to the party had its benefits. The announced attendance for the game was 30,137, which by math would give about roughly 5,000 fans that did not pick up one of the much coveted Trea Turner bobbleheads.
As we left the ballpark to head to the Metro and back home — I had to leave just before the seventh inning stretch, school night for the kids, we were given an offer of $10 for each of our bobbleheads. We declined for the right to keep the souvenirs. Guess the young fella missed out. I wonder if he was in the long lines or just was late to the park.