At 101, Mary Hughes made her first visit to a professional sporting event on June 14, and it was to the Washington Nationals major league ballpark in Green Valley for the series finale game against the Atlanta Braves.
Mary had come with three of her caregivers from the Green Valley Commons retirement and assisted living facility in Winchester, a two-hour drive away. They reported that she never missed viewing one of the Nationals game on television and that she marked on a calendar in her room the games, the opponents, the time, the channel, and afterwards recorded the score. She also sleeps on Nationals sheets and had been given a gift of a Bryce Harper bobblehead.
Mary had been presented with the Nationals Spirit Award before the game and had been taken up to the Skyclub, where she saw pictures of past presidents throwing out the first pitch. She wasn’t alive for President Taft, but she was for Woodrow Wilson and each chief executive since then.
At this game, Mary wore her Harper jersey, since he is her favorite player, had on a red Nats hat, and she held a baseball and a pen ready for him to sign his name. After Mary was shown on the Jumbotron, Harper emerged from the dugout, came up to Mary, shook her hand, gave her a hug, signed her ball, and posed with her for pictures.
Then he gave her the folded jersey that he had in his hands. To her surprise, it had the number 34, but it was small, and upon closer examination and to her amazement, she saw that it had her name “Hughes” on it instead of “Harper.”