(AP, ABC7) One of the largest crowds to ever watch a baseball game in Woodbridge, Va., erupted as the 23-year-old Strasburg took the mound. His first pitch was a 98-miles-an-hour fast ball.
The 6,000 seats and 1,000 standing-room tickets at Pfitzner Stadium were sold out within hours after word came out this week that the pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg would play for the Potomac Nationals tonight.
Strasburg pitched three scoreless innings Friday night in his latest minor league rehabilitation start. He gave up two infield hits, struck out five and walked none for Potomac in the Class A Carolina League. He was scheduled to pitch just three innings against Myrtle Beach.
Strasburg's 33rd and final pitch was hit hard up the middle by J.R. Higley. Strasburg deftly snared the comebacker and tossed to first base for the out.
After undergoing elbow surgery last September, Strasburg pitched in his second rehabilitation game in Woodbridge, one step closer to re-joining his big league club. Strasburg will start for Potomac against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at the game.
"I wanna see him come back with his fast ball and his curve ball," said Rufus Skipper, a fan.
But for fans, many who lined up hours before the gate opened, this is a rare chance to see a right handed pitcher many expect will be not only be a Hall of Famer one day, but a key player the Nationals need to become serious contenders.
Strasburg is scheduled to pitch three innings in the game, and then an additional 45 minutes of throwing in a side session.
The first 2,000 fans through the gate will receive a raffle ticket and a chance to win Strasburg's game-worn, autographed jersey.
The front office of the Nat's minor league team admits it’s all a bit overwhelming. A thousand standing-room only tickets that were added were also quickly snagged. The team has also added more security officers to work the game and record crowd tonight.
"It is a tremendous learning experience,” said Art Silber, the team’s owner. “The community really wants to be a part of it."