A GREAT view of the field at AT&T Park in Chattanooga during their pre-season open house!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Durham Athletic Park- Durham NC

We drove by historic Durham Athletic Park after visiting the current park for the Bulls. It is still a very nice park. While we were there, they were prepping it for the upcoming game the current Bulls would be playing here.

Pete Rose Jr.

Last year, we took a road trip to catch some games in Pennsylvania. I was really excited to catch the York Revolution near Gettysburg. This is an exciting park with some notoriety, but they also had Pete Rose Jr. covering 1st!

This year, one of my favorite local teams added Pete to their coaching staff.
I asked several players for the Florence Freedom how their new hitting coach was working out, and they all expressed pure joy at having the minor league/indy league legend with them. The players I talked to seemed really proud to have him.

I asked him to sign a couple of items for me and he very politely did. I hope he is able to hang out in the area and work with the team for some time.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bear Bay- Jack Hammers and Aeros

Ronald "Bear" Bay pitched in the Cleveland Indians system for a few years, in addition to a couple of other teams.

When I lived in the Cleveland area, I got to see him pitch a few times with the AA Aeros. He was one of those guys who had "it" and you really thought he was close to making it to the majors.

He played with style and talent, and he was one of those guys we were always cheering for.

Unfortunately, things didn't quit work out with the Tribe, and Bear found his way out of affiliated baseball.

I was excited to catch the the Jack Hammers recently, and to see that Bear has hooked up with this fun independent league team.

I sent him a note asking about his career, especially relating to the Akron Aeros and the Cleveland Indians.

Bear responded, letting me know that he is still very connected to the Akron/Cleveland area.

Bear says that he is in Cleveland a lot in the off season.

Also, he met his wife in Akron!!! So, Akron may not have been the next step to the majors, but I think Bear is still proud of the fact that he spent some time in the Tire City!

Congrats to Bear and his exciting professional baseball career.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Durham Bulls Athletic Park, NC

The Durham Bulls are in my books one of those exciting elite minor league franchises. If I was going to rank the most significant historical minor league franchises, this one would be top 5.

That would be a hard list to make up though, and an argument could be made for several teams. I would rank the Toledo Mud Hens at 1, the Columbus Clippers at 2, and the Bulls would probably be number 3. Then again, ask me tomorrow, I will rank those teams in a different order (and possibly even name 3 different teams).

The Bulls really pushed things in baseball and thanks to the movie, they helped put the excitement of minor league ball in the minds of Americans again.

The park is in the very urban Durham downtown area. It fits well. The old park, featured in the film, is only a few miles away. I will get to that park in a later post. I really hate to see nice parks abandoned but in this case it was necessary.

People went to see the movie "Bull Durham" which became huge. As the movie became huge, so did the actual team. They needed a bigger park to support the new larger fan base!

This is a nice, shiny new park, with a polished feel to it.

I did ask about the bull from the film, which I heard was on display here at the new park. One staff person told me that it was damaged, and had been placed in storage to preserve it. Another staff person told me that it had been totally destroyed.

They do have a cool new bull hanging over the fence in the outfield.

We only had a short period of time in Durham, and we had to make the most of it. We stopped by the Bulls park and their gift shop. They have a nice, well stocked gift shop (as was expected). the staff there was great too, giving us some access to the park. They also gave us some directions to the old park. I talked to several staff at this park who seemed proud of their job, and who talked about what was going on with the team.

It seems the team has made a bit of a tradition out of playing a game at the old park. One guy working here at the current park seemed very excited about this event.

The Bulls organization takes a lot of pride in what they do, and they play in a nice area. Check out my pictures. They skyline is beautiful, and they keep their entire facility clean and in order even on non-game days.

This organization and its current management is aware of the legacy it manages and it is doing justice to that legacy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Knights Stadium- Charlotte Knights SC

I am not sure what to say about Knight's Stadium.

I enjoyed my visit to this park and the area.

I went to the digitalballparks site to get some information on this one before going (that site, by the way, gets my highest endorsement, they cover everything). They mention that, when this park went up in the 90s, they were kind of hoping and expecting that a major league team might be lured to the area. The stadium was built with the thought that it might be expanded some day to something bigger.

The place never quit fulfilled those expectations. It is a nice place for a game, but it has that feeling, that maybe it could have been something more.

I almost want to compare it to a city. Some small towns start out as nice small towns. They were never expected to be big thriving towns, and they have small town charm. Then there are towns that feel like something more was supposed to happen there, and it never did. I can think of some Pennsylvania and Ohio towns specifically where industry has moved out, and that feel of some bigger expectation lingers.

Some small ballparks start out as nice little parks, and they keep that charm. Dayton's park comes to mind. The West Virginia Power, in my opinion, play is a very attractive little park. They have exceeded their expectations.

Then you have big parks that were built with something even bigger in mind.

Still, this is a great area with a great park. There was a big, enthusiastic crowd there when I went. The locals do seem to support it, thank goodness. I do hear a lot of friendly banter about the game and the players.

Still, with team rebuilding their parks in downtown areas, and some abandoning adequate, young parks in the process, you do ponder how long this park can continue.

I hope this place has some life left in it, as it has become a bit of a novel park. As mentioned, it was built with great expectations. Also, it is in the wrong state. If you are a fan of oddities in baseball, you must visit this park.

They have one of those cool baseball water towers near by too, which fits in with the skyline nicely.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wild Pitches

There are a couple of cool things going on in baseball in this area right now!

This weekend, the Lexington Legends are selling box seats for their games against Rome for $2! I think that is great, but, it is also one of the reasons I will likely never buy a season ticket.

In Florence, the Freedom have added PJ Rose (the player formerly known as Pete Rose Jr.) to their coaching staff!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book: "Ty and the Babe" by Tom Stanton

I almost passed on picking this book up, as there are a ton of books on both Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. I read the intro and some parts scattered through the book, and quickly knew I had to read it.

Tom Stanton does bring up a lot of well known information on both players. However, his discussion of those facts is relevant, and needed for the book. Any reader unfamiliar with the players and the details of their lives will appreciate their inclusion. Those familiar with the details will appreciate Stanton's context.

Stanton makes a case that Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth become friends after a rough professional rivalry. After they both retire, they agree to a friendly golf game after the famous first induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. During this time, Ty makes a comment about considering the Babe a friend.

At this point, Tom Stanton gives a great history of the rivalry between the two icons. He talks about how Ty is the established star in the game when Babe comes along. He gives a vivid account of their first on field match up as a an unremarkable Ruth of the Red Sox pitches to the Tiger's star.

Tom goes on to talk about Ruth's rise through baseball and his passing of Cobb in star power. Most knowledgeable of the game respected Cobb for his technical skills. The masses, however, were coming to the park to see Babe hit them out as he averaged smashing one over the fences about every other game. Even the fans in Detroit would cheer for Babe and applaud him when his team came to town.

The two have a very legitimate rivalry, trash talking each other at times, and throwing insults around the ballpark.

Cobb gets involved in an ugly gambling situation. He insists that he is innocent. Many of Ty's friends and even his rivals come to his defense, including Ruth. During this rough time in Cobb's life, Ruth has nothing but praise for Cobb's character.

The two legends eventually leave baseball and they seem to spend a lot of time playing golf. They decide to have a series of 3 golf matches against each other for charity.

I am not a golf person. I just don't get it. Still, Stanton does a great job of discussing the matches, the fans, and both player's attitudes. Reading about the two playing a very close, two out of three contest is a lot of fun, even for someone with no interest in the sport.

This book is a a fun read and a great resource. Tom lists all of the meetings between Cobb and Ruth by date in the back, mentioning how each player did. Even if you know everything about the two legends, you will find something new in this one.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Burlington Athletic Stadium- Burlington Royals NC

We drove through Burlington NC to check out Burlington Athletic Stadium. What happened here was a bit of a first in our travels to parks. We went when a game was not scheduled (as the Burlington Royals have yet to start their season) but a college game was going on!

I must admit that I do not follow college baseball. I know I am missing out, but I am just so fascinated with the lower levels of professional baseball in general. There is really no way to follow minor league ball, in general because there is so much going on. If I even attempted to try to follow college baseball too my head would explode!

Anyway, these two teams were going at it, and there was a small crowd during this weekday game event.

We asked the person taking tickets if it was OK to go in and take a few pictures. The park was very nice and let us in. I do not know if this was a ticketed event or not, but they were very nice about it.

I did ask if there was any sort of a gift shop. I was told that there really wasn't, but I was told that hats were for sale at the concession stand.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Helen Rauner AAGPBL

I got the idea to do some sort of baseball blog some time before I actually started it.

I have loved baseball forever, and I really appreciate the odd footnotes in the sport. In fact, I get more excited reading a book about an obscure player form the 50s who only played a few seasons than I get about reading a book about a superstar of today.

My original idea was to have a blog mostly about the players who never made it to the majors, or the ones who had their cup of coffee. Often, their stories are the most fascinating.

I sent letters to all of the girls from the All American Girls Professional Baseball League some time ago. I thought their stories would be a great starting point for this web site.

I received MANY great responses. The girls are a great group to write to. Many sent some very kind and lengthy notes. I think I might try to get some of their responses up at a later time. Obviously I changed the topic of what my blog would become (though, in all honesty, this thing is not very focused).

I did get a very kind response recently from Lisa Harrington, the daughter of Helen Rauner. Helen was the chaperon for the Fort Wayne Daises from 45-46.

From Lisa- "Thank you for your request, however, my mother passed away on July 22, 2003. She really enjoyed receiving these cards and answering questions about the League."

Lisa also sent her mother's baseball card along. It is very sweet of Lisa to respond to such letters, and to send the polite response that she sent.

I will get around to some more information on this great league later.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sue Nelson- Minnesota Twins Organist

I have received some great responses from the organ players at the parks!

Sue Nelson shows a fun sense of humor in her note she took the time to send.

"My favorite Twin is whoever gets the run to win the game or the winning pitcher... or maybe Michael Cuddyer (because he's the cutest- he could be my grandson...)"

She goes on to say that the "new Target Field is fantastic."

Sue even mentions that she is in section 213, behind home plate during the games!

Wild Pitches

I made an error last week. The new Negro League baseball stamp from the US postal services has been delayed until the middle of next month.

I used to live in the Cleveland area, and I followed their farm system faithfully. I still do some. There were some fun players who I really thought had "it" and I expected that they might make it. For some reason or another, they find their way outside of affiliated ball.

On a recent road trip, I saw the Kansas City T-Bones at home play the Jolliet JackHammers. As I looked over the rosters, I realized, as I often do, I had watched many of these players play on other teams.

The T-Bones pitching staff included Reid Santos and Ryan Knippschild. I have watched these two guys pitch more than once in the Indians farm system. I am glad they are still playing pro ball, but I hope they get back in with the affiliated teams. Still, it was good to see them again.

For the jack Hammers, the lanky Bear Bay was on their pitching staff! I caught him in Akron a few times! I really thought he had it- and he still might.

Checking out the website for the Jack Hammers, I realise that I really want to visit their park, Silver Cross Field.


They have roof top seats AND a converted Muffler Man!!!

Kentucky Hustlers


There is a new Summer College League team in Lexington! They have taken their name from a team that played in the area in the 40s! Here is a link to a great article explaining the team's history. They were one of the first mixed race teams around!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tyler Stampone-Delmarva Shorebirds

Tyler Stampone, currently covering 3rd for the Delmarva Shorebirds, answered a few questions for me recently!

I asked him about his favorite parks. He mentions the one in Greenville, South Carolina.

I like that one too! See my previous bog entry on it. It is very attractive.

I asked Tyler about his favorite teams, and he says the Phillies and all Philadelphia teams are his favorite. He then adds, "Go Flyers!"

I asked him about playing in the Gulf Coast League, and he says, "Imagine playing baseball in a sauna!"

Thanks for the great response Tyler!

Nancy Faust- Chicago White Sox Organist

The legendary Nancy Faust sent me a great note, and an awesome picture of herself at the stadium!

"Baseball has been a wonderful life with numerous experiences, as the organ is among the fans. Hope you can visit during a day game, this is my final season!"

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gary Pressy- Chicago Cubs Organist

I received a very kind response from the Cubs organist, Gary Pressy.

Gary says that these days he still enjoys listening to the oldies, big band music, and music from the 70's until today. "I can say I like most music and play that type of music at the park."

Gary also mentions that he has a new CD out! I have ordered a copy, and I will get a review up of it soon!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nancy Bea- Los Angeles Dodgers Organist

I recently sent letters out to organists around the majors. These musicians are really underrated contributors to their team, their park, and their city.

Nancy Bea was the first one to respond to my letter.

I asked Nancy about her favorite players. She specifically mentions Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. She says they are nice young men.

I asked her about her favorite music. Nancy says that she listens to classical music away from the park.

Thank you for your note Nancy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wild Pitches

There is so much going on in baseball right now. I won't even touch the main stories going on right now. You can read about that stuff anywhere!

I know the new Negro Leagues Baseball stamps were due to come out several days ago, but I haven't seen them yet! I went to my post office this morning, and they said they had not seen them!

Also, and I will cover this more later, but I was at the Kansas City museum this past weekend, when they were supposed to be released. I asked the staff if any events or ceremonies were planned there for the release of the stamps, but they were not aware of any special events to coincide with the release (WHAT??!!).

I do know that several towns are offering special cancels to go along with the release. A couple of the cancels are listed at the USPS website. Check them out here:


There is usually a month or so grace period to request the cancels. Keep checking the USPS website for other related cancels.

Here is a great article from the Birmingham News about a former Negro League player in Birmingham, who now works for the postal service:


Anyway, watch out for the stamps and buy them!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grayson Stadium- Savannah Sand Gnats

This is one of many parks we saw on this trip where we were lucky enough to stop by, but we were unable to catch a game here.

When planning a trip out, you kind of find a week that works out. You check for all of the minor league teams and parks, and see who has a game.

You map out where you will be on which days, and try to make sure you stop in a town where a game is being played.

You still want to see all of the other parks you can see too. Even if a game is not happening, you want to stop and check out the park.

The way our travel plans and scheduled worked, there was no way we could see a game here.

It was a very rainy day (as several days on this trip were). We got to the park and looked around. I stumbled into their main office and said hello.

Account Executive Chase Polhemus was around. He very nicely offered to walk us around the place some, and to open up the gift shop for us.

Chase is a character himself, a young guy from up north.

He told us a lot about the history of the park, which has been around since the 1920s! The stadium was being rebuilt after a hurricane in 1940, and then construction was stopped as the country became involved in the War. Chase pointed out a section where brickwork is still in limbo from this period. Check out my photo!

Chase also told us there there is a fan that comes to games who can tell stories about when the stadium was segregated, and he says that there were times he wasn't let in because of the color of his skin. The stadium is lucky to have such a knowledgeable first hand witness to history like that! Chase and I both talked about how, in some ways, it seems that formal segregation happened so long ago, but it didn't. Living witnesses are still around.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Greenville Municipal Stadium

I will keep this short, and let the few pictures I took speak for themselves.

Greenville Municipal Stadium has only been without a pro ball team for 5 or so years now.

The Greenville Braves used the facility for all 21 years of the teams existence, and then the Greenville Bombers briefly used it, before becoming the Greenville Drive and moving their park across town.

I have written about how spotless the new park in town is. It is truly amazing. I can't argue with the reasoning for going to the new park.

I bet this park was great in its day. It does break my heart to see a park get run down like it has, but it is not totally lost yet.

We stopped by here not really knowing what to expect. I was pretty excited to see that it was still standing, though there is a lot of growth around it. Also, it looks like there is a park and ride bus stop kind of set up around it.

I walked around the park, and there is a huge section of the outfield wall that has been knocked out. I hate to see any damage done to a park, new or old, but it did give me a quick look inside.

I did not want to be too intrusive, but I did take some picture.

The aging outfield wall and the scoreboard were exciting, yet sad to see. You can see where words noting championships have faded from the wall.

The facility seemed pretty intact to me, and the field has been maintained, not to pro standards, but to quality amateur standards, at least. Seats are still in good condition too.

I did see some pizza boxes near a dugout. Someones shoes were on the field too, which made me think someone is using the park at times.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Five County Stadium- Carolina Mudcats

I had heard a lot of stuff about the park in Zebulon North Carolina. Doesn't "Zebulon" sound like the name of a villain from an old sci-fi movie? I guess it could also be the name of a planet in Star Trek too.

OK, enough of that.

We did get to see the AA Reds team take on the former AA Reds team (the Lookouts). I did see the AA Reds/Lookouts a couple of years ago in Chattanooga take on the Mudcats. Yes, I know, like my Zebulon ramblings, this has nothing to do with my recent trip.

The team and field are nice and cozy. There was a very small crowd the night we went, but I did see a lot of guys keeping score, and talking about the game. The few fans that were there seemed interested in the game.

I did hear some of the locals yelling at the home team pretty aggressively when plays were not made perfectly. I even heard a somewhat loud argument between fans of the Mucats concerning the game.

The team does have netting all over the place. I know many teams are doing this now. I would hate to say that it is not a good thing, but I personally don't like it. Sure, having the nets around home is very acceptable, but some teams have it all over. I like taking pictures, and the net, obviously, makes this difficult. On the flip side of that, I have had some balls graze my ears. There are pros and there are cons.

This is a nice area, with a fun park. If I lived close to this park, I would be at it every night. Sadly, it looked to me like many Zebulonians are not taking advantage of their park!

The town has one of those really cool baseball water towers too. The Knights have one next to their park also. More on that one later.

Friday, June 4, 2010

New Bridge Bank Park- Greensboro Grasshoppers

This is another park we were able to stop at, but it was not on a game day.
The park has a very new and bright feel. It is only 5 years old! It really feels like a AA park to me. It is also located in a nice downtown setting.

I was able to get some exterior shots of the old ballpark in town. I hate it when a team leaves a great, historic older park, but the move was justified. This park is spotless!

They have a nice team shop too, which was well stocked.

The team has a big muppet like mascot AND they have an actual dog who is well known too. Dolls of both team representatives were available in their shop.

Check out my photos. This is a park I would love to go to again on game day!
It is only a few miles from here to their old park too, which is convenient while checking out numerous baseball sites on one road trip.
I will get some exterior pictures from the other park up soon.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wild Pitches

I am still hitting various parks all over the place! I feel bad though, because I haven't been out to see my Lexington Legends much!

What a crazy time in the majors right now! My head is spinning from last night!

There was the Griffey news. AND there was the near perfect game in Detroit! I love the Tigers, and would have loved to see those guys get the official perfect game. The Indians are my team too. In fact, that is the team I have followed forever- and I hate to see a team get beat so mercilessly.

That WAS a perfect game though. No doubt. I am not sure what was up with that ump. I know he has apologized now and all... I feel bad for him, but that wasn't really even close. Congrats to Galarraga for that amazing effort.

Hey, check out my entry on Asheville. Some great comments have been left.

Also, I still have some park and book reviews to get up on the site. I am behind!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Shoeless Joe Jacksons House

As mentioned in the other entry for Greenville, Shoeless Joe's house is right next door to the park.

I remember watching the Learning Channel's special on this house some time ago. It was such a cool episode. I remember watching about the time Josh Hamilton was claimed by the Reds, and there was some real excitement around him. We saw Josh playing in the New York Penn League right before that too.

The episode was about Josh helping to restore and move Joe's house.

The museum/house has very limited hours, unfortunately. I thought surely it would be open on game days. I was wrong.

It is still nice, and you have to respect the crew that moved the home, and set it up as a museum.

Just a block or two from the park and the house is a cool Joe statue too!

Hopefully, on my next trip through town, I can see the museum during normal hours (Saturday 9-2).