“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the stands (for it is in Woodbridge, VA that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
– Edward Bulwer-Lytton (with editorial liberties)
I’m not saying it was a wet night last evening on Mighty Ducks night in Woodbridge. I can tell you, though, that the last time a Carolina League game saw that much rain was probably 1988!
That said, my trip to G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium to see the Potomac Nationals host the Lynchburg Hillcats was not a total washout. A great (albeit a suspended) game, very family friendly fans, a cool bobblehead, and a brief meeting with owner Art Silber all made for a great evening of baseball.
First and foremost, if you are ever in the DC area and are looking for a great place to see a game, travel 30 miles south to Woodbridge to see the Potomac Nationals! It’s a cozy, intimate stadium and I’ve never met friendlier fans. Good, bad, or otherwise, you can’t talk about the P-Nats and not talk about their stadium. The stadium opened in 1984, as part of the Prince William County Stadium Complex, and is surrounded by multiple baseball and softball fields. The Nats, or as they were known then as the Alexandria Generals, moved in that year and became the Prince William Pirates. Over the years, the team has changed its name to the Yankees, Cannons, and now the Nationals. It has a capacity of roughly 6,500, mostly on aluminum bleachers, although the box seats and field box seats are chairs, and reserved seating (on bleachers) do have backs. It’s a throwback to what many fans to be typical of a minor league park, but it’s showing its age. It has been well documented that Silber wants (and needs) a new ballpark. In fact, MiLB has granted a waiver to the Nats through the 2018 season to keep playing there, even though it doesn’t meet current MiLB guidelines for a park. While a deal seemed to be in the works over the last couple of years, with the latest ruling by Prince William County, their future at the Pfitz is now in jeopardy. I have to say, though, while the
stadium is a bit outdated, it’s a great place to see a game! It’s very family friendly, the fans are very baseball knowledgeable, and where else can you snap a photo and have a chat with the owner of the club? In fact, up until just a couple of seasons ago, Silber could be found coaching first base, and would come up to the railing to chat with fans between innings. The last time I was there, he was coaching first base. I did ask him about that, and he said his kids finally told him he was too old to be coaching first. I disagree, Mr. Silber, you should never stop coaching! Silber wore number 42 while coaching. Since he was wearing #42 before it was retired in honor of Jackie Robinson, he was only one of two people in all of professional baseball allowed to continue to wear it.
Silber coaching first base in previous years
Players getting in some BP under the stands during the first rain delay
Food and Ducks
Since the ballpark is small, the food choices are somewhat limited. However, if you are in the mood for a hot dog or half smoke, and a beer, this is the place you want to be! Prices are very reasonable, especially for being in the DC area, and really, if you are here for the game and with a family, that’s all you need!
In addition to the primary concession stand, there are two additional grill stands that offer a variety of sausages and burgers.
I opted for the beer and old bay brat, with peppers and onions of course! While I like to get a good photo of my food with the field in the background, just after I ordered it, the skies opened up and we all made for cover under the stands! It was very tasty!!
While it involved traversing a small lake, there was also a shaved ice van.
Courtney serving up some beers
The promo of the evening was the 25th anniversary of the Mighty Ducks. The Nats wore Mighty Ducks unis, and Matt Doherty, aka Lester Averman, was the subject of the night’s bobblehead, and was there to sign autographs. The rain didn’t deter fans from coming out, and the line was incredibly long for autographs!
My bobblehead in drier weather
The line for autographs went on and on and on…..
Matt Doherty signing autographs
With the hometown, intimate feeling of Pfitzner Stadium, there were plenty of chances to interact with both players and fans. Many of the players took time out to sign autographs, and I could get some photos of warmups being so close to the field.
Starting pitcher Taylor Guilbeau warming up
Many autograph opportunities for the fans
Washington Nationals mascot Screech even got into the autograph action
Speaking of a family environment, I ran into Ari and Kelly and family. They make the trek down from DC to catch the Potomac Nationals. Unfortunately, after the rain, they had to call it a night. But they said they would be back!
Pregame entertainment in the courtyard was by Slypped Dysk, offering up classic rock, country, and blues. Their performance was actually cut short with the impending storm, but they were pretty good!
The Nats had just a few games in between innings, and were cut short by the rain. They did have one game, the Duck Donuts frisbee toss. And who would have guessed that the prize was a Mighty Ducks DVD!?!
Game notes and photos
Skies were already threatening before game time. This was the scene 30 minutes before game time.
For my friends in Florida who only see games in a domed stadium, this is what happens after a rain delay: all hands on deck pulling tarp, then applying quick dry to the field and smoothing out again!
The scouts opened the game with the presentation of the flag for the National Anthem.
Nats first baseman Ian Sagdal shares a laugh with the umpire after a Hillcats batter tried to take a walk on ball 3. Ooops!
Later, Sagdal goes low for the out at first.
Safely back to first.
High and inside.
The scouts were out at the game as well.
Hillcats SS Willi Castro makes a good stop.
In the fifth inning, the rain came again!
After getting the tarp down, and waiting….. they pulled the tarp and players began to warm up again.
But after looking at the field, at about 10:10, the game was suspended in the top of the 5th with the Nationals up 6-5 but the Hillcats threatening with two on and two out.
Since I work for the Postal Service…..
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this blogger from the swift completion of their appointed blog.
Even with the weather, it was a fun night. The Nationals definitely have a home town family atmosphere for being just outside the nations capital. Stop by and have a great time!