By Scott Allen
March 24, 2023 at 10:17 a.m. EDT
The Washington Nationals will honor late founding owner Ted Lerner by inducting him into their Ring of Honor during a pregame ceremony at Nationals Park on Opening Day.
Lerner, whose family purchased the Nationals from Major League Baseball in 2006, one year after the franchise relocated from Montreal, died at 97 on Feb. 12. The D.C. native, who once worked as an usher at Griffith Stadium, built his fortune in real estate in the Washington region and closely supervised the construction of publicly financed Nationals Park, where his name will now appear on the facade beneath the owner’s suite behind home plate. It will be flanked by the Nationals’ curly “W” and a logo commemorating the 2019 World Series title he helped bring to D.C.
The Nationals created their Ring of Honor in 2010 to recognize influential members of their own team and also celebrate greats from the Washington Senators, Homestead Grays and Montreal Expos. The former Nationals in the Ring of Honor are Frank Robinson, Ivan Rodriguez, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, who last year became the first player to have his number retired by the team.
“A father, philanthropist, entrepreneur and boss, you cherished the franchise and what it meant to D.C.,” Zimmerman wrote on Instagram after Lerner’s death. “You embraced the American dream and worked hard to build an empire. On behalf of every player, past and present, thank you for leading by example with such quiet class and humility.”
The Nationals will also wear a commemorative sleeve patch on their home and away jerseys to honor Lerner this season. The navy blue and white oval patch features Lerner’s initials — TNL — beneath three white stars representing D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
The Nationals open a rebuilding season on Thursday against the Atlanta Braves amid uncertainty about the future stewardship of the team. Lerner’s son, Mark, became managing principal owner of the Nationals in 2018. Last April, he announced an “exploratory process” to research additional investors or a possible sale of the franchise, but with Opening Day approaching, closure to that process does not appear imminent.