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Nats pay respects to Va. Tech victims

Nats pay respects to Va. Tech victims

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WASHINGTON -- The Nationals paid their respects to the 32 people who were killed at Virginia Tech in an attack by an armed gunman by wearing Hokies hats starting in the second inning of Tuesday's game against the Braves.

The position players wore burgundy hats, manager Manny Acta and his coaching staff had white hats, and the relievers had orange-colored hats.

The idea came from fan Dave Lanham of Calvert County, Md., who e-mailed team president Stan Kasten early Tuesday morning. Kasten, who was busy most of the day, didn't see the e-mail until later in the afternoon, but he thought Lanham had a great idea and passed it on to general manager Jim Bowden. The team also received the approval from the Commissioner's Office.

"I read it, and I thought it was really nice. I thanked [Lanham] and I sent it to the staff. The staff jumped on it in a flash. Finding those hats was a bit of a problem, but they did it. It's the very least we could do on short notice," Kasten said.

Although the Nationals lost to the Braves, 6-4, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had his mind on the victims at Virginia Tech.

As a third baseman for the University of Virginia, Ryan Zimmerman often faced the Virginia Tech baseball team. On Tuesday, he felt the two schools were as one.

"It's special to wear the hats, especially for me. It was always the school you wanted to beat, but the tragedy shows you how little sports actually means in the big circle," he said. "Life is so much more. It makes you realize how lucky we have it and not take any days for granted."

After the game, outfielder Chris Snelling donated his Virginia Tech cap to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Snelling had the best game of the day for Washington, going 2-for-3 with an RBI triple.

Zimmerman, Acta, pitchers Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch, first baseman Dmitri Young and outfielder Kory Casto signed their caps and donated them to the Virginia Tech athletic department.

The Nationals also had a moment of silence for the victims for the second straight day.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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