DC at Night

DC at Night

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Preview of Nationals Baseball by Their Man in the Booth

Johnny Holliday, left, with partner Ray Knight
For almost a decade, DC-area sports announcer Johnny Holliday, who has been the voice of the Maryland University basketball team since 1979, has co-hosted the Washington Nationals pre- and post-game baseball shows on the MASN network. So who better to ask how the Nationals will fare this year under the leadership of the new first-time manager Matt Williams.

"I expect them to do really well and win the division, if they stay healthy which is the key to any team," Holliday says. "This guy (Williams) is no nonsense. He can relate to these guys. He's not that much older than them. Davey (Johnson, the former manager) was old school. This guy is new school."

Holliday appeared last weekend at the Newseum to share his thoughts about baseball in the nation's capitol and the upcoming season, which begins in 2 weeks.

The award-winning announcer said he would be "disappointed" if this team doesn't improve on last year's record. "All these guys I work with would be a friend of yours. They're not big-headed baseball players. They believe in community," he noted.

If the Nationals can consistently play winning baseball, Holliday believes the city will support them. DC has long been known as a football town, where the the NFL franchise is the king of sports.

"I hope it becomes more of a baseball town," Holliday told the crowd who came to hear his remarks. "I think if you give them (the fans) a winning team, people will come. The Redskins haven't put a product on the field for years that appeals to me."

Part of the problem with baseball may focus on the fact that not once, but twice, DC lost its baseball team. When the team left in 1971 , Holliday says he was convinced Major League Baseball would authorize a quick return to Washington.

"I thought it will only be a matter of a couple of years (until DC got back a pro baseball team)," This is the nation's capital. You've got to have baseball in Washington," he said.

But Holliday was wrong. It wasn't until the Montreal Expos were relocated to DC in 2005 that baseball made a Washington return.

Holliday was asked what effect the newly instituted instant replay will have on the game. "I hope it doesn't delay the game. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out," he said.

The Nats pre- and post-game shows are extremely popular with the fans. Holliday said much of the credit for the success should go to his partner, former major leaguer Ray Knight. "Ray's done everything as a player. I just set him up and let him go. The show is all spontaneous which I think gives it a strong flavor," he said.

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