On March 21, 2022, Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner announced that #11 would be retired for Ryan Zimmerman (NBC Sports Washington).
Zimmerman, sometimes referred to as Mr. National and Mr. Walkoff*, announced his retirement earlier this year (Federal Baseball). He played 16 seasons over 17 years for the Nats, missing 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zimmerman was the first DC draft choice of the 21st century in 2005. He joined the big league team in September of that year wearing #25.
In 2006, Zimmerman switched to the now familiar #11. Two other players, Jeffrey Hammonds and Junior Spivey, previously wore #11 in 2005.
DC sports greatest number
The Nationals are the third DC team to retire #11. Many DC titles have featured prominent players wearing this repdigit. I cannot think of any other city to have so many prominent players wearing the same number. Houston and #34 (Houston Chronicle) maybe the most similar, but I think much like the 2019 World Series, DC wins out.
Hall of Famers
Washington Bullets (now Wizards)
Hayes played 9 seasons for the Bullets. The power forward was a perennial All-Star and a member of the 1977-1978 NBA Champions, the only championship in franchise history. He’s a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
More: Retired Numbers: Elvin Hayes (nba.com)
Gartner played 10 years for the Caps, leaving as the franchise leader in scoring. He was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001. The Capitals retired his number in 2008.
More: Retired Numbers: Mike Gartner (nhl.com)
Other notable 11s
Washington Redskins (now Commanders)
Super Bowl XXVI MVP, the last title won by the proto-Commanders. His post-football life hasn’t gone very well.
Elena Delle Donne
2019 WNBA MVP for the champion Mystics and a future Hall of Famer. Count on seeing her #11 hanging from the rafters too.
The first home-grown Capitals player (and future head coach – count on it!) in team history. In his first stint in DC, the 2005-2006 captain wore #11.
The face of the franchise, Mr. Walkoff, Mr. National. All-time DC home run king and 2019 World Champion. Only played for Washington. He’s the best all-time DC #11.
Note to soccer teams – find a superstar that wears #11
While the defending WSL champions Washington Spirit didn’t need help, I recommend that DC United find a great player and stick him in the one-one jersey. We’re coming up on a couple of decades since the last MLS Cup.
Previously: 11-11-11 The great #11’s of DC sports