WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Few things bring baseball fans closer to the beating heart of America, and the playing field, like minor league baseball. And for followers of the Washington Nationals, the proximity of the farm league teams makes it easy to road-trip it and see not just the players the home club is developing, but an array of indescribable mascots and eccentric sponsors.
Uncle Slam, the Potomac Nationals' mascot, is a red, white and blue creature of unknown origin. He can delight, as when he traipsed through the crowd here Tuesday afternoon at Pfitzner Stadium and high-fived kids from Camp Wow. And he can terrify, as when he leaned over the child asked to say, "Let's play ball!" at the start of the game.
For many of the small-town, suburban or far-flung areas that are home to minor league baseball teams, sponsors tend to be home grown. Many of the foul balls here were "brought to you by Pawn USA," which describes itself as "Northern Virginia's largest pawn shop." Find yourself in possession of a foul ball and it's good at Pawn USA for any item, "excluding Rolex watches," the public announcer declared.
In other parts of the stadium — "The Pfitz" is what the MASN on-air commentators like to call it — plumber F.H. Furr was well represented, particularly in the bathrooms.
The price is about right for this chance to sit in the sun and watch young professional athletes fight for a chance at the big leagues. For two adults and one child, the "two for Tuesday" special provided front-row seats between first base and home plate, with vouchers for hot dogs and sodas thrown in, for a grand total of $40.