Washington Nationals Guest Services Representative Louise Chinn has been an avid baseball fan since she was 10 years old. Every morning in her hometown of Warrenton, Va., she would read the sports section of the newspaper with her family to stay up to date with the latest baseball news. Racing down her driveway to see who could get the paper first was a fun competition between her siblings, which then turned into an educational experience to master the core subjects of reading and math.
“My foster father was the one who would teach me about baseball,” said Chinn. “He would get the paper and teach me how to read the standings.”
Her foster father would also tell Chinn about each role that’s necessary to keep a ballpark up and running, including vendors and ticket takers. Yet she never thought she would have the chance to work for a professional baseball team herself.
Chinn moved to Northwest DC in 1958 after marrying her husband, a baseball fan who was surprised to learn of his wife’s interest in the sport, including the statistics.
“When I got married, it was so funny,” said Chinn, who frequently attended Washington Senators games with her husband at RFK Stadium. “He looked at me and said, ‘You know about baseball? That’s cool! I didn’t realize you knew so much about it!’”
In 1972, two years after Chinn started working for the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, she and her husband moved to Southwest DC. Through the years, she witnessed the community develop and created photo albums to document each day of construction of Nationals Park when it began in 2006. After working for the government for 35 years, Chinn decided it was time to do something she enjoyed. When the Nationals hosted a career fair in 2008, she happily applied for a job.
Today, many Nationals employees know Chinn as “Mama” because of her dedication to her fellow employees while managing the freight elevator by section 139.
“It’s like family because you have worked with most of these people ever since you’ve been here,” said Chinn, who has never considered her job to be work. She especially appreciates the positive recognition she receives from her coworkers and senior management. What’s more, Chinn has become a familiar face for many at Nationals Park, from fans who always give her high fives after a big win to employees who don’t tell her which floor they need to go to because “Mama” already knows.
Yet each day, she reflects on her childhood, remembering how she never thought she would step foot in a professional ballpark as an employee. In her eyes, she received an opportunity of a lifetime to work for the Nationals, and now her goal is to instill her personal philosophy of “you get what you give.”
“The players have done a lot for the neighborhood,” said Chinn, who believes there is more to the Nationals team and staff than just the game itself. “Some of the neighborhood kids may never have had the chance to come to a baseball game, but the team makes sure that they get to while teaching them about the sport.”
Chinn also makes sure to do her part beyond Nationals Park, starting with her church, St. Vincent de Paul. In 2011, she was honored with the Archdiocese of Washington’s Manifesting the Kingdom Award for her dedicated service to the ministry.
Chinn believes little things can make big impacts, even if it’s just making her neighbors smile. Every homestand, for instance, she collects 10 copies of the Nationals’ Inside Pitch program for her fellow church members to read. In doing so, Chinn reminds them about the importance of a strong sense of community, beginning with a baseball team they can now call their own.
By: Megan Schneider