By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — As a fan of the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team, University of Iowa junior softball student-athlete Aralee Bogar knows she is in the minority in Iowa City, Iowa.
Because of location, the largest rooting contingents in these parts are for the Cubs, Cardinals, Twins, Royals, and White Sox.
But Bogar was celebrating Oct. 30 when the Nationals scored six runs over the final three innings to defeat the Astros, 6-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Minute Maid Park in Houston. There is a reason Bogar is a Nationals fan: her father, Tim, was first base coach for Washington last season before being promoted to bench coach for 2020.
“It was a big moment for our family,” Aralee said. “(Coaching in Major League Baseball) is a hard lifestyle, but when you get the pay-off — literally the best thing that could have happened for the baseball team — it’s cool to be part of that. It makes it worth it.”
Aralee, a speedy infielder from Trophy Club, Texas, is set to begin her third season with the Hawkeyes. In 95 collegiate games, she has batted .249 with 16 extra-base hits and 45 stolen bases.
Her father, Tim, was an infielder for the Mets, Astros, and Dodgers from 1993-2001. He has coached with the Rays, Red Sox, Rangers, Mariners, and Nationals. Tim was special assistant to manager Joe Maddon when the Rays made the World Series in 2008, losing to the Phillies, four games to one.
It was an improbable run to the championship for the 2019 Nationals. They came from behind to defeat Milwaukee in the National League Wild Card Game, then eliminated the two-time NL Champion Dodgers, 3-2, in the National League Division Series.
Aralee attended Game 1 of the National League Championship Series in St. Louis, where the Nationals blanked the Cardinals, 2-0, en route to a four-game sweep. She also attended games three and four of the World Series in Washington, D.C. — both Nationals losses.
“We didn’t get to see a win (against the Astros), but we got to go to the homestand games.” Aralee said. “I watched the rest on TV.”
Aralee was in her apartment in Iowa City for Game 7.
“It was super-exciting, tense,” she said. “It almost felt like you were out there playing the game. With every good thing that happened, you get up and run around the room. It was more intense than a regular baseball game.”
Aralee sent her father a congratulatory text immediately after Nationals pitcher Daniel Hudson struck out Michael Brantley on a 3-2 pitch for the final out of Game 7. Soon she received a FaceTime call originating from the victorious Nationals locker room.
“He wanted us to see and be part of the celebration,” Aralee said. “I watched them do the champagne in there, so that was cool.”
In the offseason, Tim interviewed for managerial jobs, making several rounds of interviews with the Mets. Instead, he will remain as bench coach with the World Series champion Nationals.
“That is a nice step up for him,” Aralee said. “He enjoys that strategical part of the game, so I think he will enjoy it. He and (manager) Davey Martinez get along well.”
The Major League Baseball season extends from February to October, leaving a small window for rest and relaxation with family. Aralee enjoyed hanging out with her father over fall semester break.
“He doesn’t get to see us much, so Christmas is always a good time,” Aralee said.
Among her Christmas gifts were a couple Nationals sweatshirts and hat. She will be one of the few in Iowa City repping the Nationals, and she is alright with that.
Tim will be able to watch Aralee and the Hawkeyes play five softball games at the Kickin’ Chicken Classic from Feb. 7-9 in Conway, South Carolina. Then he leaves for Spring Training in West Palm Beach, Florida… another 162-game regular season begins for him March 26