When Davey Martinez heard the shots, his first thought was to get those around him to safety.
The Nationals manager was in the dugout when Kyle Finnegan struck out Wil Myers to end the top of the sixth inning in Saturday night’s game against the San Diego Padres. Just as the TV broadcast was about to cut to commercial, both he and the thousands of fans on hand heard several loud pops in quick succession. Martinez immediately identified the sound as gunfire and began ushering his players into the clubhouse.
“Obviously, yesterday was a very scary situation,” Martinez said on a Zoom call Sunday morning. “My job was to get the players safe, first and foremost. Get everybody off the field and then I started worrying about their families and trying to do the best I can to get them down to the players as quickly as we possibly can.”
Fans around the stadium began to realize something was wrong when a stream of people started sprinting for the center field gates. Many stayed in their seats ducking for cover while others moved up to the concourse. As some fans began running onto the field seeking shelter in the dugouts, PA announcer Jerome Hruska told the stadium that an incident had occurred outside the ballpark and fans were to stay inside for their safety.
Meanwhile, Martinez had joined security personnel in ushering fans into the dugout.
“For me, they're family. They're our fans,” Martinez said. “They sweat just like the players do, just like I do. They're here for us. A lot of these people I’ve seen before, that came through. They sit above our dugout so, like I said, I just wanted to make sure everybody was safe. It was a reactionary thing.”
According to multiple reports, shots were fired between two vehicles on South Capitol Street SW just behind the third-base gate. Two people from one of the vehicles later reported to a hospital needed treatment for gunshot wounds. A woman who had just exited Nationals Park was grazed by a bullet as well. None of the injuries are considered life-threatening.
After about 10-to-15 minutes, Hruska came back on the loudspeaker and told fans it was safe to exit the stadium through the center and right field gates. The game was then postponed and the team later announced it would be picked up where it left off Sunday afternoon with the Nationals trailing 8-4.
“This happens everywhere, unfortunately,” Martinez said. “It’s scary when it happens this close to us but, as you all know, this is not just us. It’s happening everywhere. But I’m glad that everybody is safe. For the victims, my heart and prayers go out to them, and I hope that the lady [that] unfortunately got wounded, apparently she’s gonna be OK, but my prayers go out to her and her family.”
The Nationals returned to the stadium Sunday morning hoping to “get back to some kind of normalcy today and just play baseball,” Martinez said.
On the heels of his own selfless actions the night before, the skipper got emotional when talking about fan safety at the ballpark.
“You know, I love this city. This city is my home,” Martinez said. “It can get crazy, we all know that and we all want to feel safe. I can tell you that inside this ballpark, I feel safer than ever. I really do. We care about each other. We don’t want anybody getting hurt so, like I said, for me yesterday I tried to protect as many people as possible.”