Friday, July 11, 2014
RiverDogs Carolinas Connections
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Next up on our tour of the South Atlantic League: the Asheville Tourists.
Highlights from McCormick Field
Arrive early and wander around the Grove Park Inn, back up Charlotte Street on the other side of I-240. There is an amazing waterfall sequence, and you get free parking for the first three hours.
If you are still early, walk up -- seriously, straight up, altitudewise -- Buchanan Street beside the front entrance, go left on White Fawn Drive to a trail head to Beaucatcher Greenway. The path is cool and pleasant, though there are some mosquito critters. After you climb over a fallen tree, there is a trail back down to the left that leads to the employee parking lot for the stadium. Go up to the parking lot entrance to get back to the stadium front.
Go on Doggies at the Diamond night. I bet we saw 30 dogs, of all sizes and colors. The coolest was a huge white dog -- unknown breed -- with sunglasses pushed back on his forehead. Certain he weighed 180 lbs., we almost asked to ride him out to the parking lot. There was also a Newfoundland who accepted all the attention gracefully. Many of the dogs gathered to argue and play in the general admission area -- concrete benches where folks make their own nests with blankets and lawn chairs.
No Carolinas Connections - but several players on this team stood out as not fitting the Sally League mold of 19-year-olds who are 6-foot-2, 170 lbs. The Tourists have some older, bigger players. It was nice not to worry about their nutrition like I have some others. I felt sorry for the lefties, though -- they have a 36-foot fence in right, though it's only 297 feet from the plate. Still, not many dingers are going over that baby.
Lots of local beers available, plus there are the deep-fried Oreos and deep-fried Moon pies.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Observations from Rome, Ga.
Rome Carolinas Connections
Observations from Augusta, Ga.
GreenJackets Carolinas Connections
Sunday, June 1, 2014
The Grasshoppers have a magnificent
park in downtown Greensboro, with a truly endearing mascot named
Guilford. But it was three labrador retrievers who caught nearly all of
our attention on Friday night: Miss Babe Ruth, Miss Lou Lou Gehrig, and
Master Yogi Berra.
Miss Babe Ruth is in likely her final season as a bat retriever for the Hoppers. She worked several innings at our game, either retrieving bats for the home team or delivering balls to the home plate umpire between innings (safely dry in a bucket). We rooted for Hoppers to get hits just so we could see her do her thing (hitters brought their own bats back to the dugout if they struck out).
Yogi's big moment was between innings when he retrieved a baseball launched into the outfield by one of those T-shirt cannons.
The other animal excitement came on the scoreboard. During rally moments, a video showed a chicken jumping several inches in the air, over and over. We were stumped for a few innings but finally realized it was A Hopper, as is most everything at the park. The usher said it does not have a name, so we proposed Hedda the Hopper.
Friday's game went crazy fast, finishing nine innings in 2:20. Even the extra innings (the game went 12) still had folks out close to 10 p.m. A base-running choice in the bottom of the ninth prevented a chance at a Hoppers win, and instead the game stayed tied until the 4-run boom in the top of the 12th.
This park (in its tenth season) leads the list of those I'll visit again. Maybe next time the family in front of us will stand up for their frequent concessions visits between innings instead of during at-bats …
Hoppers' Carolinas ConnectionsOutfielder Kentrell Dewitt - Green Sea (S.C.) Floyds High and Southeastern Community College (Whiteville, N.C.)
Pitcher Josh Easley - N.C. State
Pitcher Brad Mincey - East Carolina
Pitcher Sean Townsley - High Point University
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Tuesday's score was Hickory 10, Kannapolis 3, but a game with 13 runs and five errors by the hosts won't get my attention.
What did get my attention was a broken bat from the Intimidators' Jacob Morris that flew into our section during the first inning. The man sitting behind me snagged the barrel and gave it to me, and batting coach Rob Sasser offered the handle from the dugout. So now I have a bat used by a professional baseball player. What's the big deal, right?
It represents talent, and it makes me want to follow Harris' career. There is something about Class A ball that makes us root for these underdogs, many of whom will never see the majors but most of whom do love the game enough to travel half the year. They live four and five to an apartment just to be able to pay the rent, and live in places where landlords won't rent month-to-month … and all of that. It's a life we might envy on one level, but we mostly don't envy the low pay and the tedium and the hard work parts of it.
Highlights from KannapolisA Chevy chassis with No. 3 artwork sits at the park's entrance, in memory of Dale Earnhardt, whose purchase of a share of the team in 2000 sparked a name change from the Piedmont Boll Weevils to the Intimidators (chosen by a fan vote).
Mark your calendar: Bark in the Park is June 1. This is a gorgeous park and the dogs will love it.
Bingo drew more boos than cheers. At least no one forgot about the free space.
Loved hearing Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" after a steal.
Kannapolis Carolinas Connections
Pitcher Tyler Barnett - Hickory High, UNC Charlotte
Pitcher David Putman - Duke
Catcher Jeremy Dowdy - Raleigh Wakefield, Appalachian State