- The Washington Times
Thursday, November 7, 2019

Jamie Mottram, like many in and around the District, was watching the Nationals celebrate the National League Championship Series when manager Dave Martinez first uttered the phrase he would repeat weeks later at the team’s championship parade: “Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.”

But unlike most, Mottram recognized right away Martinez had just uttered a perfect T-shirt slogan.

Over the next few days, Mottram and his team at BreakingT, a D.C.-based sports apparel company, designed and started selling a red shirt that had “19-31” in the center and “Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places” underneath.

The design is not only the second-most popular Nationals’ related shirt sold from BreakingT over the past 30 days, but a top 10 item overall.

The Nationals’ postseason run — capped off by winning the World Series last week — has done wonders for business owners like Mottram. The BreakingT founder said they’ve sold thousands of Nationals-related items, including apparel inspired by the club winning it all.

“Any time there’s a franchise that’s winning a championship for the first time, that’s a really big deal — bigger than a usual championship scenario,” Mottram said. “We saw it last year with the Capitals, as well. But the Nats winning it for the first time … the enthusiasm and excitement around that is sky high.

“It had a profound impact on our business.”

Demand for merchandise is high across the region.

At the Dick’s Sporting Goods in Springfield, Virginia, the store stayed open until 3 a.m. the night the Nationals won Game 7, ready with World Series apparel to be sold. They briefly closed down before re-opening at 7 a.m. with its store packed with customers.

In the center of the store, apparel was laid out on set-up tables. Employees unpacked and folded shirts, hoodies and hats ss customers constantly came up asking for certain sizes or colors still in stock. On more than one occasion, staff had to tell customers they’d run out of a particular item, but more would be coming that afternoon.

Virginia resident Jeb Sophia, 41, purchased “seven or eight” items for his family, including his two sons.

“You can’t put it into words,” he said. “It’s been awesome.”

From shirts to caps to balls and bats, Nationals’ memorabilia is hot, and depending on how much fans are willing to spend, commemorating the franchise’s first World Series title can cost as little a a couple of dollars to as much as a small fortune.

The most expensive collector’s item on the market is probably the baseball used for the final strikeout in Game 7. That ball is likely worth $500,000, Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions in New Jersey, told Bloomberg News.
Too pricey?

Fansedge offers an autographed World Series “Louisville Slugger” bat for a cool $2,999.99. Then there’s Missouri-based Nikco Sports, a sports memorabilia company that has a commemorative set of three baseballs in a display case with the team’s championship history and a season recap.

Some items have already been snapped up for posterity. The Baseball Hall of Fame, for instance, chose eight artifacts from the seven-game series to persevere at their museum in Cooperstown. Among them, the Hall chose a hoodie worn by Martinez and the home run ball Howie Kendrick hit in Game 7.

Regardless, there’s no shortage of memorabilia if you want to celebrate the Nationals. Mottram said his site’s most-popular item is a “Rendon/Soto ‘19” shirt, created after the NLDS when Rendon and Soto hit back-to-back homers off Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw in Game 5.

“We saw a lot of fans, customers at the parade wearing our shirts,” Mottram said. “That was cool.”

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