"Everybody is thrilled about this season," said Mitchell. "This was a franchise which wasn't doing very well at all. Everyone knows the story. This is the first time in 80 years that [our] team has made the playoffs and last year, we played .500 ball. Being at the top of the division and having the best record in baseball, I don't think anyone expected that."
"It exceeded all expectations. It's exciting to the players and the entire city."
Players began reporting for spring training last week and talk is bubbling about the Nationals playing in the World Series. These men in addition to the rest of the fans eagerly await the start of the new season slated to begin Sunday, March 31.
The men are founding partners and have a financial stake in the team. Others in the group include CBS and Showtime sportscaster James Brown; Faye F. Fields, president and CEO of Integrated Resource Technologies, Inc.; former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater; and businessman/lobbyist Jarvis C. Stewart.
The trio declined to elaborate on the dollar amount each person invested but Baker, a Black Entertainment Television executive said "certainly from the client perspective, it's overwhelmingly positive now that we're actually winning. That's the progressive part."
Maldon, a Fairfax County resident, said his love of baseball was inspired by his father – who he said pitched with Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige. He and his father would watch New York Yankees games on TV and he played ball in high school and in the military. Mitchell ran track, played other sports and remembers his father teaching him to pitch.
Billionaire Theodore N. Lerner, a native Washingtonian and founder of Lerner Enterprises, is also the managing principal owner of the Nationals. Lerner Enterprises is the largest private real estate developer in the Washington, D.C. area. Lerner founded the company, based in Rockville, Md., in 1952. The Lerner family bought the team in May 2006 for $450 million from Major League Baseball and partnered with D.C. officials to build the stadium in Southwest.
Maldon said Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was adamant that any of the groups chosen to operate a team in Washington have significant minority partners.