WASHINGTON -- With the Midsummer Classic set to return to the nation's capital for the first time in nearly 50 years, it was an easy decision to incorporate the U.S. Capitol dome into the official logo for the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, which was unveiled Wednesday at Nationals Park.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, Nationals principal owner Marla Lerner Tanenbaum and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser appeared at the ceremony to reveal the logo, along with Nationals manager Dusty Baker and All-Stars Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper.
It represented the beginning of the ceremonial march toward the game, which will be held July 17, 2018. It will be a chance for the Nationals to show off their ballpark and a team that has become one of the most successful franchises in baseball. "Today's logo unveiling marks the start of an exciting year for our sport in the nation's capital," Manfred said. "And we look forward to showcasing our game's brightest stars in an outstanding city and ballpark next summer."
The day began with a Play Ball event at Nationals Park showcasing about 100 local youth participants taking the field before Wednesday night's game against the Brewers. They shared photos with the Commissioner and Mayor as well as some VIP members of the Nationals.
This will be the fifth All-Star Game in Washington, but first since 1969. It will mark the first time the Nationals have had the honor and the first at Nationals Park, which opened in 2008.
"There's no better stage for D.C. to kind of show this new stadium we have, the area surrounding it and this awesome fan base that has grown with us than the All-Star Game," said Zimmerman, the first Draft pick in Nationals history. "I can't think of a better city to showcase it than this one."
The Capitol dome, fresh off its recently completed restoration project and crowned with the bronze Statue of Freedom at the top, is the focal point for the logo. There are three stars on both sides of the Capitol flanked on a blue background to represent each baseball division -- the East, Central and West in each league -- and a single star on each side with a red background to represent the American and National Leagues. There are red and white stripes in the background to represent a waving American flag.
"I know that Washington will be one of the best host cities because nothing could be more fitting, exciting, or appropriate than hosting the All-Star Game for the national pastime in the nation's capital," Nationals principal owner and vice chairman Mark D. Lerner said. "The logo conveys that spirit of celebrating one of our most beloved traditions in the city that uniquely belongs to us all."
Zimmerman was flanked by a few of his fellow All-Stars for the ceremony, including Murphy and Harper, who were voted in by the fans to start the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami. Scherzer was named the starter for the NL All-Star team after his stellar first half. Harper reiterated that should he make the All-Star team next year, he will participate in the Home Run Derby.
Washington is ready to show off the team and the city; Mayor Bowser also indicated that whatever transportation enhancements that would be necessary to accommodate the game, such as extending the hours of the Metro, would be undertaken. And it'll be a chance for Nationals Park to take center stage and show off the area surrounding the stadium, which has become a model Manfred often references when talking about the development of other new ballparks.
"I take it as a habit to pointing to what's happened here in Washington," Manfred said. "I think it's very difficult to imagine the kind of renewal that's taken place in this area being driven by anything other than a baseball stadium. I think the venue, stadium itself, but maybe more important the surrounding area, will be a fantastic location for an All-Star Game."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.