Night at the Nats
In what has become an annual tradition for the John Carroll Society, members gather together for a Washington Nationals game each summer. The JCS "Night at the Nats" event is organized with the assistance of JCS member and Catholic Athletes for Christ sport ministry founder, Ray McKenna.
The event begins with members gathering at a conference room at Nationals Park for an inspirational talk by one or more members of the Nats organization or other influential sports figures, followed by a short trip to the stands to witness the Nats take on that night's opponent in a baseball game!
- 2019: Those attending the event listened to a talk from legendary major league baseball manager and executive Jack McKeon, who spoke about the importance of his faith and attending daily Mass. He attributes much of his success, and those of his teams, to the intercession of St. Therese de Lisieux. Keeping the winning streak alive at the annual event, the Nats defeated the Colorado Rockies with an offensive outburst, including Trea Turner hitting for the cycle.
- 2018: Nats relief pitcher Ryan Madson described his journey of conversion to Catholicism in conjunction with his professional comeback to baseball after a serious elbow injury. Also, Ted Towne, Nats Vice President of Finance and Assistant General Manager, described how his activities as a parishioner at St. Bernadette in Silver Spring brings him joy amidst the demands of his work and travel schedule. The Nats prevailed over the Tampa Bay Rays, with Nats ace "Mad Max" Scherzer getting the win while pitching a rare "immaculate inning."
- 2017: Attendees listened to a talk by Nats Director of Player Development Mark Scialabba, who explained how the Nats prepare young players in the minor league system, and in particular provide daily training, and cultural and spiritual support to Latin American draftees immersed in a new ball-playing environment. He also discussed strengthening his own Catholic faith amid the travel and grind of a long season. The group also were presented a talk by Kevin O’Malley, Operations Director for Catholic Athletes for Christ. He described the organization’s establishment of a players’ pregame Sunday Mass at 27 of Major League Baseball’s 30 ballparks. In addition, Catholic Athletes for Christ recently produced a CD recording of the Holy Rosary recited by legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully. Also, the third time was a charm, as the Nats managed a win over the defendant World Series champion Chicago Cubs on the strength of a franchise-record seven stolen bases.
- 2016: At the second annual event, JCS members were treated to talks by Danny Espinosa (Nats starting shortstop) and Chris Speier (Nats bench coach, who was a three-time all-star in the 1970s). Espinosa explained how attending Mass has enabled him to navigate difficult times throughout his life, and especially in the major leagues as injuries and the long season’s grind inevitably take their toll. Speier spoke of becoming a convert before marrying a Catholic in his early 20s, and how his deepening faith spurred him to found an independent Catholic school after his playing career ended. Both men described the importance of daily prayer in their lives.
- 2015: At the Society's inaugural "Night at the Nats" event, Nats reliever Craig Stammen spoke about his Catholic upbringing, the role of his faith in achieving unexpected baseball success, and the challenges of deepening that faith amid the grind of a major league season.