Thursday, April 24, 2014
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A taste of the majors
By Chuck King

Washington D.C. – A couple minor league teams received a taste of major league baseball Sunday when the Washington Nationals and their Single-A affiliate in Potomac played what was dubbed the first-ever major league/minor league doubleheader at Washington’s RFK Stadium.

Washington downed Baltimore 3-1 in the first game, before the P-Nats fell to Salem 14-4 in a Carolina League contest.

The loss only mildly dampened a game Potomac had been looking forward to all season.

“Looking over the schedule and seeing RFK as one of our home games, my very first thought was, RFK?” Potomac outfielder Doug Vroman said. “As it got closer and closer, I started to get more excited.”

The idea for the doubleheader came about last season. Originally, the P-Nats play Frederick, an Orioles affiliate. When the scheduling didn’t work out, Salem agreed to play Potomac.

An estimated 5,000 people stuck around from the near capacity crowd on hand for the major league game to watch the Carolina League contest. Admission was free to those late-arriving fans intending to watch only the minor league game.

The P-Nats brought many of their between-inning promotions, and the RFK staff stayed to operate the video screen and the scoreboard.

“It was a surprise that they were actually going to let us play here,” Potomac manager Randy Knorr said. “The closer it got, the more I thought it was a great idea to show these guys what it would be like to play in the major leagues.”

Both teams watched the first eight innings from the Diamond Club, located just above the right field wall. Following the eighth inning, the teams were led down to the D.C. United locker room. D.C. United, a Major League Soccer franchise, shares RFK with the Nationals.

The teams got dressed in the same locker room before heading out to the field.

“It’s different,” said Salem catcher Lou Santangelo as he headed out through the tunnel. “I don’t think it’s ever happened to me before. We’re making adjustments just so that we can play in this ballpark. I can’t complain about anything.”

The Avalanche’s Jeffrey Mackor looked the most comfortable in the big league park, belting a grand slam en route to a six-RBI game.

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