The Hebrew Nationals

Washington Nationals owners Ted Lerner and his son Mark Lerner

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Summer is in full swing, and we can’t believe that it’s already July. With the holiday weekend approaching, we thought it natural to focus on the Great American Pastime, baseball.

As you may well know, baseball returned to the Nation’s Capitol in 2006 after a 33-year absence. The Montreal Expos were losing money and had been taken over by Major League Baseball until an ownership group headed by The Lerner Family finally brought the team to Washington. Having quietly built the area’s largest commercial real estate empire, the usually very private Lerners were suddenly thrust into the spotlight.

After graduating high school in 1943, Ted Lerner served with the U.S. Army through the end of World War II. He then went on to attend The George Washington University and married his wife, Annette M. Lerner, in 1951. He started in real estate after the death of his father, when Lerner started selling homes on weekends to support his mother, sister and brother.

Started in 1952, Lerner Enterprises of Bethesda has built more than 22,000 homes and 6,000 apartments in the Washington area, and owns and manages more than 20 million square feet of commercial and retail space, including shopping meccas at Tysons Corner and White Flint. Lerner Enterprises is headed by Lerner with his son Mark D. Lerner and his sons-in-law Robert K. Tanenbaum and Edward L. Cohen.

Ted’s son, Mark, who lives in Georgetown, entered the family business right after graduating in 1975 from George Washington University. The business has always been a family affair, with father and sons(in-law) collaborating on their dealmaking. Ted Lerner once told The Washington Post that “it’s far more important to pick the right partner in a real estate venture than to pick the right wife.”

In addition to owning The Nationals, the Lerner Family is also a minority partner in Lincoln Holdings, the corporation which owns the entirety of The Washington Capitals the WNBA Mystics and now The Wizards and Verizon Center.

Ted Lerner has been honored with the 1990 American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award of Excellence, was elected to the Washington Business Hall of Fame by Junior Achievement of the National Capital Area in 2003, and elected to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

The Annette M. Lerner and Theodore N. Lerner Family Foundation has given back to the community in many ways, but their financial contributions, in the tens of millions, have gone to support George Washington University and his synagogue, Ohr Kodesh, a Conservative congregation in Chevy Chase. The upper school campus of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD is named in his honor and the lunch room in the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy was designed and donated by Mr. Lerner.

Not only did they bring the team here in 2006, but in 2008 opened Nationals Park, a beautiful new baseball-only park on the shores of the Anacostia River. The park has all of the amenities one would expect in a new stadium with luxury boxes and fan activities, but in addition to a couple of kosher-only stands, you can also get a perfectly cooked Hebrew National dog at any hot dog stand in the park.

Stephen Strasburg's first pitch

As for the product on the field, The Nationals, after suffering through a couple of miserable losing seasons, are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They have some bright young stars, none more notable than last year’s #1 overall draft choice, phenom Stephen Strasburg. With the addition of some pitchers working their way back from injury and another #1 overall pick this year, the Lerners and Nats fans have good reason to be optimistic about the future.

Catch the Nats at home to celebrate our nation’s independence with great seats still available for this weekend series against the New York Mets.

Peace, Love, and Hot Dogs,

The Chosen

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