As a lifelong baseball fan, John Ragsdale wasn’t about to pass up the first opportunity to reserve season tickets for Potomac Nationals’ home games when the team moves to Fredericksburg in 2020.
The Spotsylvania County resident donned long johns and flannel shirt, grabbed a folding chair and umbrella, and, armed with two cups of coffee, set off for the Fredericksburg Area Museum before dawn Saturday morning to sign up for the team’s Founders Club. It gives members priority in reserving seats for full-season tickets, among other perks.
“I thought that this was the most unique opportunity,” Ragsdale said. “I got excited when they put out the announcement. I wanted to be a part of that because this will be great for this community.”
He arrived at the museum at 3:30 a.m. for the 11 a.m. event and unfolded his chair in front of the museum. That’s where Dan Hansen, the second person to arrive, found him several hours later.
“As soon as he got done laughing, he said, ‘You’re on the wrong side of the building. I’m out back.’ ”
Together, they set up their chairs in Market Square, where they were soon joined by Phill Solow, Nikki Perez and Kevin Brown. As vendors began arriving for the Founders Club event, the group helped them set up tents.
The diehard baseball fans were the first five of the more than 185 people who showed up that day to reserve more than 600 full season-ticket plans. But it was Ragsdale’s dedication that Lani Silber Weiss, Potomac Baseball LLC’s president and chief operating officer, decided should be singled out.
After speeches by the team, City Council members and the museum’s president, Ragsdale was called up to the stage and told that the team was giving him and his wife free tickets to the inaugural season in the stadium that Potomac Baseball will build in Celebrate Virginia South.
“I’m a 62-year-old man and I almost cried,” Ragsdale said. “It took me completely off stride. I was at a loss for words. That’s what baseball is all about. Making people happy. And they delivered.”
Weiss said she had no idea how many people would turn out for the event because the team had never done anything like this before and the forecast called for rain. She said she would have been happy if 100 people had signed pledges to buy tickets for the 2020 season.
“We were just blown away and couldn’t be happier with the results,” she said.
Brown, who got to the event around 9:30 a.m., said the people signing up were “making history in establishing baseball” in Fredericksburg. He said being there was a great experience, and he made some new friends while waiting in line to reserve tickets for himself and 19 friends.
“It’s going to be a great community-building experience,” he said of the home games. “You will meet the people who are around you. That’s what it means to me as a city resident.”
Potomac Baseball, which teamed up with the museum for the event, sold Fredericksburg Baseball caps and donated about $1,000 in proceeds to the museum.
“We ran out of hats around 1 o’clock,” Weiss said.
People who signed up for the Founders Club also got to tour the museum, which included a mannequin wearing a Fredericksburg baseball uniform from the 1930s.
“We were really happy to get more people through their doors,” Weiss said.
The Founders Club remains open through the end of December, and Potomac Baseball had received 30 emails about joining by Monday morning, she said. The team has also sold all but four of the 13 suites that will be a feature of the $35 million stadium, and those may be sold by the end of the week.
Founders Club membership is a three-year commitment, and locks in ticket prices for that time period. Pricing will be available by early 2019.
The Potomac Nationals will play at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge for the 2019 season. Season tickets there range from $695 for a seat in the grandstand to $1,050 for a field box seat. A reserved seat is $910 and a box seat is $980.
Besides getting first pick of seats, Founders Club members will have their names engraved on a plaque that will be displayed at the stadium entrance, receive a gift and a VIP invitation to exclusive stadium events, including the ribbon-cutting.