When Adam Eaton was traded to the Washington Nationals, his first concern was making a good impression on his new team and fanbase. Instead, Eaton suffered a season-ending injury one month into the season and has spent the majority of the seasons rehabbing behind the scenes.
Saturday, however, Eaton brought his off-the-field interest to Nats Park and helped raise funds for charity. He also gave back to Nats fans in a pretty spectacular way.
Eaton hosted a charity car show at Nationals Park on Saturday in support of his favorite charity, the Dragonfly Foundation. After over 200 cars registered, Eaton said the event “turned out way better than [he] thought it was going to.”
“The people really showed up and I am really thankful for all the money we were able to raise today,” Eaton said. “We are giving back to a great community and a family that is in need and that’s what is really important.”
Eaton first got connected to the Dragonfly Foundation in college. When he signed his first professional contract, he knew this was the charity he wanted to be involved in.
“They help children with cancer. What more empathy is there? Children that are stronger than a lot of adults and go through a lot more than we ever go through,” Eaton said on Saturday. “We can help them out in any way shape or form and that is why I have chosen them.”
Eaton originally had the idea early in the season, but it amounted to an actual event throughout the summer months with help of the Nationals staff. Eaton spends most of his Saturday mornings at Katie’s Cars and Coffee events in the area. He finds cars a unique expression of each owner and thought it would be a fun event to hold at his second home, the ballpark.
“It’s your own personality on the outside, on four wheels. It’s a driving piece of art in my book,” Eaton said. “People can show off their pieces of art, all individual to each, and share a little bit of baseball at the same time.”
Eaton walked through the cars and spent time with each attendee through the morning handing out mini Phoenix wooden bats, engraved with his autograph, to his favorite cars.
“I gave one to a DeLorean that was actually built, which is weird. When you see DeLoreans, they have that 100 horsepower and they are usually never built, but they actually have a little more power,” Eaton explained. “The Dodge community here in DC, Virginia, and Maryland really showed up. There were 20-30 between Hellcats and 392’s and RT’s – it was great to see them out. And an old school Cadillac – a 40’s Cadillac – was just really cool to see.”
Eaton’s goal, after seeing other cars and coffee events in the area, was to bring everyone together no matter what car they owned.
“All walks of life [showed up] and that was what I trying to bring here,” Eaton said. “We had some new, we had some old, we had some modified, we had some restomods, there was all kinds of different walks of life. The beauty of it is we got to spend the morning here at the ballpark. What a great view! Couldn’t ask for a better view. It all came together really well and I feel blessed that people came out.”
Even when the event “officially” ended, Eaton stuck around with Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez and outfield/infielder Howie Kendrick, chatting with the remaining people. It was evident the passion he has for cars and connecting with Nationals fans.
“Gio Gonzalez showed which was beautiful. He brought his G Wagon AMG, awesome car. Howie brought his AMG SUV, which is one of the fastest SUVs in the world,” Eaton gushed. “So those two guys really showed up for me and had a great time. They both raved about how many people actually showed up which is great.”
Eaton brought along his highly modified Cadillac CTS-V, which he has named Caspr.
“I have the Cadillac behind me. I have a Corvette, the Grand Sport at home, and I have a Ford Raptor,” Eaton stated about his personal cars. “I know Howie Kendrick has like 8 or 9 cars. Jayson [Werth] has 9 or 10 cars, so I am not quite their status yet but I like to think I am a little more selective in my car choice.”
Although he didn’t list it on his wishlist, he seemed enamored by the Tesla demonstration that took place on the roof near the end of the event.
Along with being passionate for cars and baseball, Eaton is a big hockey fan. He took his son, Brayden, to Kettler during the playoffs and deemed a Capitals hat his “rehab hat” during his long recovery.
“It’s my rehab hat! I keep it in my car,” Eaton told me. “We went to a couple games in the playoffs. The Caps were awesome to watch. I have always enjoyed them, they have such skill. My wife got me the hat and it fit well. I love the Caps, I love hockey. I have always been a huge hockey fan so it was a pretty easy decision to make it my rehab hat.”
And although the event was in the parking garage this year, he has bigger plans for next years.
“I am going to try to get it on the field next year at some point,” Eaton said with hope. “It’s going to be late in the year, probably November after the season is over with. That is what I am really going to push – I am going to put the pressure on. There is no reason, they have concerts! There is no reason not to have 250 cars in the outfield. That would be something special.”
So while Eaton spends his first season in Washington on the DL, he is making the most of his time – with the fans. Every attendee left happy, after spending their morning talking about their passions and getting all the photos and autographs they could want from some of DC’s best athletes.
Nationals Park entrance from above
Photos: Cara Bahniuk
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