Review by Gary
Due to a certain plague in 2020, the Washington Nationals’ Low A team had to wait a whole year to debut their new ballpark, having relocated from Pfitzner Stadium, their longtime home in Woodbridge, Virginia. After searching for a better ballpark anywhere in the area for at least twenty years, the former Potomac Nationals rebranded as the Fredericksburg Nationals and opened up their new ballpark for the 2021 season.
The FredNats may have considered escaping back up I-95 to northern Virginia as they lost their first 15 games, with a horrid run differential of -115, setting a record for a team in its “first” season. The Little Nats finally won their first game in May and all was forgiven. On this night, the eve of Independence Day, the visiting Salem Red Sox provided the fireworks, knocking out 11 hits in a 9-2 bombardment.
It helps to know where the ballpark is, because there was no directional signage, and the exterior of the stadium is rather nondescript and tucked behind a new apartment complex. It resembles a high school sports complex rather than a hometown ballpark. The only indication that you have reached the home of the FredNats is a pair of tall, crossed baseball bats supporting the new F-logo.
The ballpark was lacking in distinguishing characteristics to celebrate the home team other than the FredNats’ secondary logo etched in relief on picnic bench seatbacks and on the ends of seating rows. Interestingly, the “cityscape on a baseball” motif appears to have been inspired by a certain New York National League teams’ main badge.
One nice touch is the manual scoreboard, adjacent to a group dining area in the outfield. Guests are given the task of adding runs, hits and errors. However, and much to the chagrin of the grandstand crowd, there seemed to be no real urgency to keep the tallies up-to-date. Perhaps they were dispirited by the events transpiring on the field.
In homage to the mother team residing along the Anacostia River in DC, the Fredericksburg stadium features a similar stonework façade lining the entire backstop area. A very informative History of Fredericksburg Baseball Wall can be found on the back of the centerfield batter’s eye, which makes for interesting reading during long rallies by the visiting team.
Many of the usual on-field fan participation activities between innings were actually held off the field and could only be seen on the smaller-than-life video board or by those surprised fans who happened to be standing near the event, which was held either on the concourse or in the “Promo Pavilion” beyond the center field fence. Promo Pavilion? Hopefully, as the team settles in and begins to build some history in the area, additions to the ballpark will see it take on more of the character of the historic town it now calls home, and the history of the parent club up north.