Balester and other California Nats provide perspective on quake

Nationals right-hander Collin Balester has been through his share of earthquakes growing up in Huntington Beach, Calif., so you would expect today’s 5.9 magnitude seism to be no big deal to him. But he said the earthquake that shook the east coast Tuesday afternoon makes the list of one of the bigger quakes he has experienced in his lifetime.

“You feel earthquakes all the time (in California) and most of the time you don’t even feel them,” Balester said. “I guess the building structures are more used to feeling the quake. You don’t see the buildings move. I would say that this one is up there in the ‘Top 5’ I have been in.”

Balester was inside Nationals Park when the earthquake began Tuesday. He quickly raced outside near the first base gate and looked up at the stadium.

“We saw the building move and we were inside and the chairs were moving,” Balester said. “It is a little uneasy. It is one of those things where you take precaution and hope nothing happens.”

“The light towers were shaking. I was just hoping nothing was going to come down. You feel a little shake. You hope nothing is falling down on anyone and no one gets hurt.”

Balester remembers the worst earthquake he was in while growing up in southern California.

“I was in fifth or sixth grade and stuff was falling off the shelves and televisions were falling down,” Balester said. “We went outside and it stopped. We still had to go to school. That was the only bad part. You were hoping they would cancel school or something. I guess it is like snow in east. You hope they cancel school and when they don’t you are bummed.”

Nationals left fielder Jonny Gomes grew up in Petaluma, Ca., and he was eight years old in 1989 when the devastating earthquake hit during the Oakland A’s/San Francisco Giants world series.

He said this one doesn’t really compare to the big ones they get in the golden state.

“I was talking to some people back home and a 5.9 earthquake is no big deal,” Gomes said. “Granted, it was a little bit hairy (here in D.C.). I have been in probably six or seven quakes. But I was on the 17th floor for this one so that added to it. It was definitely rocking and rolling.”

“The 1989 quake was the biggest one I have ever been in. If it wasn’t bolted to the wall it was on the ground. (Today), nothing fell, but I knew right away what was going on. The again, it is my first time living in D.C. and we are right next to the Pentagon and you start thinking negative thoughts about that. So, I grabbed the kids and the wife and went downstairs. It was just another one for the record books.”

Similar thoughts from another native Californian in Long Beach State’s Danny Espinosa, who Ian Desmond said knew right away what all the shaking was about.

“It wasn’t that big of an earthquake,” Espinosa said. “A (5.9) is pretty big, but nothing fell off the walls. We’ve had some big ones that have gone through my neighborhood (in California). Here’s how small this one was: We didn’t even feel an aftershock here. The earthquakes we have in the valley that are two hours from me (in Southern California), you get an aftershock. There’s no aftershocks.”

Espinosa said a few Nationals’ teammates who were first-timers did run for the exits. “You can figure it out (who went running),” he said.

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