The history of the Fredericksburg Nationals will begin with an ellipse, an empty stadium and an interruption more than a century in the making.
Deprived its usual supply of players, Minor League Baseball canceled its 2020 season on Tuesday evening, an expected result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history [since 1901] that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball being played,” MiLB President and CEO Pat O’Conner said in a statement.
Tripp Keister, who was set to manage the FredNats in their inaugural season, said his thoughts quickly turned to the fleeting nature of professional baseball.
“I always feel for the players—they only have X amount of time for their careers,” Keister said. “I wonder if some have played their last games.”
FredNats general manager Nick Hall wouldn’t confirm reports that Fredericksburg’s new stadium will serve as an alternate training location for the Washington Nationals once MLB’s shortened season begins later this month. Each big-league club will be permitted a 60-player pool, including a “taxi squad” that travels to away games.
“That answer changes every hour,” he said. “I’d love to say it’s happening but it’s not something that we can really bank on.”
Hall said the team is planning to host “all types of socially-distanced events” at the stadium this summer, public health conditions permitting. Earlier this week, the FredNats announced a Fourth of July fireworks show, scheduled for 9 p.m. and visible from a two-mile radius.
In the near future, the FredNats will be reaching out to season ticket holders and partners to address their statuses moving forward. Most are on multi-year plans, Hall added, and their investments will be rolled over to 2021 and beyond.
The FredNats insist it’ll be worth the wait.
“We’ve been saying all along that we didn’t move to Fredericksburg to have an awesome 2020—we want to have an awesome next 20 years,” Hall said.