CLEVELAND -- Nationals manager Jim Riggleman has been in baseball for over 30 years, and he never has seen fans come to the ballpark to see one player like right-hander Stephen Strasburg.
For example, according to an Indians spokesman, 50 extra media members and a crowd between 30,000 to 35,000 was expected to be on hand for Strasburg's start against the Tribe on Sunday afternoon. The spokesman said the Indians would have had around 19,000 if Strasburg didn't pitch.
On Tuesday, the Nationals had a sellout crowd at Nationals Park to see Strasburg debut, and he didn't disappoint the 40,315 fans. He threw seven innings, allowed two runs on four hits and struck out 14 batters.
"I haven't seen [crowds like this for a player]," Riggleman said. "Maybe they did this with Sandy Koufax and some others. I know when Nolan Ryan pitched at home, Texas jumped up in attendance because people thought he might pitch a no-hitter. But the national attention, I've never seen anything like Strasburg."
Riggleman also likes that the attention that Strasburg is getting is helping the Nationals. He hopes that players such as Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn get exposure. All three players hit homers in Strasburg's debut.
"It's an opportunity for people to realize there are some pretty good talent in Washington. You hope some of the guys get the national attention," Riggleman said. "People who saw Stephen also saw a good game by the Nationals on Tuesday. People like Dunn, Willingham and Zimmerman may get some recognition for it."