MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Billy Joel returning to Nationals Park

Billy Joel returning to Nationals Park

Billy Joel's expansive coast-to-coast ballpark concert tour scheduled for the upcoming season will bring him back to several venues he has played in the past, including Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

The Nationals and Live Nation announced Thursday morning that Joel will perform at the Nationals' ballpark on July 30, marking the musical legend's third visit there. Joel most recently played to a sellout crowd at Nationals Park in July 2014.

"We are delighted that Billy Joel will be back at Nationals Park for a third time this summer," said Valerie Camillo, chief revenue and marketing officer of the Nationals. "We are proud that Billy Joel was the first artist to ever play a concert at Nationals Park in 2009, and we look forward to watching him once again captivate the audience with an unforgettable performance."

Tickets are on sale to the public now.

Playing at baseball venues is nothing new to Joel, but never before has he scheduled so many ballpark concerts in one calendar year. As of Thursday morning, Joel had announced five concerts, including his show in D.C.: May 14 at Petco Park in San Diego; July 1 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh; Aug. 18 at Fenway Park in Boston; and Aug. 26 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. More are expected to be announced in the near future.

Previously, the most ballparks Joel had played in one season was four. In 2014, he played in D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago. Last summer, he again visited Fenway Park, Citizens Bank Park and Wrigley Field, and he added a show at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

This year's slate of concerts will continue Joel's long-standing affection for playing at sports venues. It began in earnest in June 1990, when he played Yankee Stadium in his hometown on his Storm Front tour. Joel also famously had the "last play" at Shea Stadium in 2008, performing two sold-out concerts in July to commemorate the Mets' final season in that ballpark.

Those two concerts were featured in a 2010 documentary, "The Last Play at Shea," and included guest appearances by Tony Bennett, Don Henley, John Mayer, John Mellencamp, Steven Tyler, Roger Daltrey, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney.

Joel also sang the national anthem at Citi Field prior to Game 3 of the 2015 World Series between the Mets and Kansas City Royals.

"I still get psyched when I'm going to a professional ballgame, whether I'm singing or not," Joel said after the performance. "I'm honored they ask me to do these things, the national anthem, playing at the Garden all the time. I've had an incredible life. I'm not ready to leave, yet, though."

Joel's first Mets anthem performance occurred in 1986, when he had just released his album "The Bridge." In 2000, his performance at Yankee Stadium prior to Game 1 of the Subway Series between the Yankees and Mets concluded with a bald eagle flying in from center field.

In December 2013, Joel became Madison Square Garden's first music franchise, joining the ranks of the storied venue's other original franchises, the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty. Since January 2014, Joel has played one show per month at The Garden as part of the Time Warner Cable Concert Series. This unprecedented and wildly successful residency has led to 30 sold-out shows through June of this year.

Joel has sold 150 million records over the past quarter century and ranks as one of most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in history. The singer, songwriter and composer is the sixth-best-selling recording artist of all time and the third best-selling solo artist, and he is one of the highest-grossing touring artists in the world.

Joel's career has spanned five decades, during which time he has won six Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1992), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ('99) and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame (2006). In '13, Joel received the Kennedy Center Honors, the nation's highest honor for influencing American culture through the arts.

He also received a grand honor in the nation's capital a few months after his 2014 concert at Nationals Park, when he was awarded The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, in a star-studded tribute ceremony that took place at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall, near the White House.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.