WHEN the first pitch is thrown at the new Fredericksburg Nationals new stadium next April, we have one request:
We hope that someone with some institutional memory about the ’Burg’s quest for professional baseball will make an effort to name something there after Paul Akers—the stadium, the field, the scoreboard, something.
Akers was editorial page editor of The Free Lance–Star for 15 years before his untimely death in 2013. He wrote beautifully and passionately, and other than his family, nothing aroused his passion more than baseball. He was advocating for a team here when pretty much everyone else thought it was a pipe dream.
He wrote often about how a pro team could add to a town’s civic life in ways that could not be measured merely in dollars and cents. He once devoted an entire Sunday editorial section to extolling the virtues and joys of a day or night at the ballpark. He felt strongly that the historic lack of a pro team here was an elision that needing correcting.
A couple of years after Paul’s death, the ill-fated effort to bring the Hagerstown Suns franchise here faltered, and that probably was for the good. Even he, a strong advocate of fiscal responsibility, might have agreed on that.
The deal that eventually was worked out with the now-former Potomac Nationals is much more sensible, with much less risk for the City of Fredericksburg than it would have been with the Suns. We have a farm club of one of the most exciting teams in the majors, only an hour or so from the big team’s stadium. Nats fans from the whole Washington area can come down to see the stars of tomorrow. That’s about as good as it gets in Class A baseball.
Paul Akers should have been here to see his dream finally come true. He would have been disappointed that the Hagerstown deal never got done, but that would have only added to his delight at seeing that first pitch finally thrown in Fredericksburg next spring.
If you’re a fan, lift a cold one to Paul Akers when you go to that first FredNats game. Without him, it probably never would have happened.
And if you’re running the show, please consider honoring the man whose tireless efforts pushed us toward that happy day.
Paul, a man of strong faith, might (or might not) have appreciated the analogy, but it is hard not to think of Moses, who never reached the Promised Land, only viewing it from afar. Paul Akers didn’t get to throw out the first pitch, but he led us to the stadium.