As the Washington Nationals continue their historic run in the post-season, and the franchise prepares to host their first-ever World Series at Nationals Park on Friday, fans can count on starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, 35, to be rocking his lucky charm, a pair of clear rimmed sunglasses with yellow-tinted shades.
If Sanchez’s sunnies look familiar, it’s because teammate Gerardo Parra has a very similar clear pair, except with red-tinted shades, and also wears them for every game, even at night. Relief pitcher Fernando Rodney, 42, had a pair that matched Sanchez’s exactly, except he wasn’t so attached, and admitted to The Washington Post that he lost them.
As the mystery around the sunglasses grew, most fans assumed they were designer sunglasses, specifically made for Sanchez and Parra, like Howie Kendrick’s new Nationals’ themed Rolex, which he recently showed off on Instagram.
However, Sanchez’s sunglasses didn’t appear to have any Washington Nationals’ themed spirit, and with the largely unknown brand “Bubly” printed on the the side, it’s clear they weren’t especially worth much either, at least, monetarily.
See Also: Best Sunglasses for Men
“A lot of people ask for it, but I don’t know where they can find them, or the production of those kind of glasses,” Sanchez said, who was initially coy about discussing the glasses that were now permanently always covering his eye, or sitting atop his ball cap. “They’re special. That’s why we’re here.”
The Famous Sunglasses Came From Detroit
The origin story behind what’s become Sanchez and Parra’s signature game time sunglasses has been kept under wraps for months. The first time they were spotted wearing them was on June 30, during an away game against the Detroit Tigers.
As Parra, Sanchez, and Rodney entered Comerica Park that Sunday, the Nationals players noticed a crowd waiting in line for Bubly, a sparkling water brand, who had set up a temporary stand for a promotional giveaway.
Rodney recalled that Parra asked, “You want to wait in line for some glasses?” to which he responded, “Of course, yeah. It’s free.” However, when their teammates started asking where they got them and how much they cost, they lied. “I was like, ‘Yeah, we got them yesterday at the store,” Rodney said. “The believed it. They believed it because we were wearing that’s why.”
Parra became so attached to his sunglasses that when they started to break on the side, he used glue to fix them back together. The 32-year-old outfielder, whom after changing his walk-up song to “Baby Shark,” which has since become the team’s new unofficial anthem said, “[It]’s a great story. We said, ‘Hey, starting today, we will try to bring good luck to the team.’ And we started to win.”
During that fateful day in Detroit, the Nationals beat the Tigers 2-1, which brought Washington a mere 1.5 games out of the NL Wild Card spot. Parra and Sanchez then decided the sunglasses were good luck, and would be worn at every game.
Many of the Nationals’ Players Have Good Luck Charms
Relief pitcher Sean Doolittle, who’s been seen carrying around a good luck charm of his own, a Star Wars light saber, loves his teammates’ sunglasses. Doolittle said, “They kept them on for the game, and we were like, ‘All right, we’re taking things up a notch,’ They helped change the culture in this clubhouse. May was tough for us, and they’ve helped us kind of walk that fine line of playing loose, having fun, taking the field with a smile on your face but also playing hard and staying focused. The second half of the season has been a lot of fun.”
With four first-round playoff defeats in the the past seven years, the Nationals are all about doing whatever it takes to win, but also having fun while doing it. Even the famously stoic pitcher Stephen Strasburg has cracked a smile, and has been seen multiple times enjoying a three-man hug with Sanchez and Parra in the dugout after he’s done pitching.
Manager Dave Martinez supports all the spirit-lifting tactics, as does General Manager Mike Rizzo. “They have to be able to play,” Rizzo said of the mixed personalities in the clubhouse. “That’s the first and foremost. But character guys that have had some experiences, successes and some failures, I think that all comes into play.”