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Nats owner headed home for history

Nats owner headed home for history

History will be in the making on Tuesday as Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President -- and first African-American -- of the United States.

For Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner, he will witness history in person, as he plans to attend the inauguration in Washington with his family. Lerner is expecting positive results from Obama.

"I'm getting ready to board a plane to come home for the inauguration," Lerner wrote in an e-mail on Monday. "As most Americans and many citizens of the world, my family and I are very much looking forward not only to the inauguration, but Mr. Obama's presidency. I think he will do great things for America."

Lerner won't be the only one who will be busy on Tuesday. After the inauguration, Nationals team photographer Mitchell Layton will shoot photos at the Black Entertainment Network Gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

"I wanted to be part of this, so I started hustling some assignments," Layton said. "It's awesome. I get to see people that I never thought I would interact with in life. It's the same reason I like sports. It's a dream job. You never know what you might walk into."

According to a team spokesman, there won't be a Nationals player in Washington for the inauguration, but there will be many glued to their television sets to watch the historic event.

Outfielder Lastings Milledge is working out in Colombia, but is able to watch Obama get sworn in, thanks to a satellite dish in his hotel room. Milledge said that humanitarians such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson made Obama's day possible.

Barack Obama

"Jackie and Martin Luther King made a lot of sacrifices," Milledge said. "Seeing Obama at the inauguration means a lot. It will mean a lot of change. Hopefully, the economy will get better."

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who is working out in Florida, said Obama being inaugurated means that race is no longer a factor when it comes to being President of the United States.

"We are at a point in America that times have changed," Zimmerman said. "It doesn't matter if you are black or white. It's a matter of picking the right guy, and I think Obama is the right guy. I think he will turn things around. Hopefully, the economy will get better. That's all I care about."

Closer Joel Hanrahan couldn't make it to Washington because he's getting ready for Spring Training. After working out in the morning, Hanrahan plans to watch the inauguration at his house with friends by noon ET.

"It's an historical event because we are seeing the first African-American being sworn in as president," Hanrahan said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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