Fredericksburg Nationals to unveil new history wall at Oct. 3 ballpark event

Fredericksburg NationalsThe Fredericksburg Nationals are highlighting the history of local baseball on a display at their ballpark.

The History of Baseball in Fredericksburg Wall, presented by Germanna Community College, will be 80 feet long and 12 feet high, showcasing some of Fredericksburg’s richest history ranging from the civil war to the present, including some lesser known baseball factoids.

Fans will be invited to the ballpark on Saturday, Oct. 3, to see the History of Baseball in Fredericksburg Wall for themselves, followed by a free showing of a movie that is to be determined by a fan vote. Gates will open at 5 p.m. to the first 1,000 fans.

A ceremony to unveil the Wall and hear about the project will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. prior to the movie showing at 7 p.m.

“The Fredericksburg Nationals are thrilled to introduce this unique element into the ballpark for baseball and history fans to enjoy,” Team Treasurer Seth Silber said. “This project brings together the rich history of Fredericksburg and the rich history of our national pastime into one incredible display that will stand the test of time.  It was only possible through the support, talents, and creativity of three incredible community partners, Germanna Community College, the Fredericksburg Area Museum, and Dovetail Cultural Resource Group – all of whom had the vision to help bring this dream to reality.”

“Baseball has mirrored social change in America and, at times, even played an important role, as it did when Jackie Robinson broke the game’s color line 73 years ago,” said Germanna Community College President Janet Gullickson. “We’re proud to be part of this five-year project chronicling the history of baseball in our area, along with the FredNats, Dovetail and the Fredericksburg Area Museum. And we are very happy to be working with the City and the Silber family. “

“The Fredericksburg Area Museum is very excited to have participated in the creation of the History Wall in the FredNats ballpark,” said FAM President and CEO Sara Poore. “What a fun project it has been. The dedication and commitment to the history of our community has been a priority to the Silber family’s relocation of the team to Fredericksburg, as evidenced by the History Pavilion. We look forward to a History Day event in Spring 2021 where the Fredericksburg Museums Council, which includes Fredericksburg Area Museum, The George Washington Foundation, Washington Heritage Museums, James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library, and Gari Melchers Home & Studio, will have an opportunity to engage the public with hands- on activities that will further share the history of Fredericksburg.”

In addition to the history wall, the Fredericksburg Area Museum’s future exhibition, Playball! America’s Pastime, will open in the museum in January. This exhibit will complement the History Wall with artifacts and stories that illustrate Fredericksburg’s long history with the game of baseball –from soldiers to sandlots to the gleaming ballfields of today.

“Dovetail Cultural Resource Group is utterly thrilled to be a part of the team bringing the history of Fredericksburg baseball to the community,” Dovetail President Kerri Barile said. “We began researching this topic back in 2013 when the City considered entering into a previous agreement to bring a team to town. The little bit of research we did blew us away. When the Fredericksburg Nationals began to explore Fredericksburg as their new home, Dovetail knew two things: the FredNats would be an incredible piece of our baseball story and we wanted to be a part of their adventure.”

“The teamwork on this project was incredible,” Barile said. “Dovetail took the lead on the research with FAM then creating a beautiful and monumental exhibit. Germanna backed the studies throughout the project and contributed the breathtaking History Minute videos that will be shown during the games. The FredNats, Seth Silber in particular, were the project glue. The guidance, support, and enthusiasm they provided throughout the project was infectious, and they kept the work on track despite the delays in our opening due to COVID. We hope we have succeeded in making their vision a reality.”

The exhibit and videos track the legacy of baseball in the area as:

Union and Confederate soldiers watching each other play baseball games across the Rappahannock River. Abner Doubleday, who, according to baseball mythology, invented the game, was an officer in the Union camp and was said to have organized games there in Falmouth.

The beginnings of baseball teams and leagues in Fredericksburg in 1866, as troops who learned the game during the war brought it home to friends and families when hostilities ceased.

The world’s eyes turned to Fredericksburg in February of 1936 when Hall of Fame Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson recreated George Washington’s legendary silver dollar throw across the Rappahannock. In a brilliant publicity stunt, Johnson was brought to town and more than 4,000 people turned out to watch, with 90 radio stations across the country broadcasting the event live.

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