Friday, June 16, 2017
Road Trip:Kinston/Down East
When baseball returned to Kinston for the 2017 season,Kinston supplanted Hagerstown as the smallest full season city in the minor leagues and there isn't an easy way to reach it.
Lots of two lane roads and rural driving in order to reach Grainger Stadium,which as soon as you walk in,Grainger brings one place to mind-good ol' Hagerstown Municipal.
Grainger isn't quite as old as the Muni,(1949 to the Muni's 1930),but there are lots of similarities-covered grandstand,lots of backless metal bleachers and a concourse that gives you a view of the back of the grandstand as you wait for food and beverages.
The difference though is the playing surface,which is far superior to Hagerstown in both pleasing to the fan and liked by the players.
Doug wanted to do the visiting Wilmington Blue Rocks,while the Landucci's and I went down the third base line to do the homestanding Down East Wood Ducks,the new name for the new team in town-an affiliate of and owned by the Texas Rangers.
I had finished almost of the Wood Ducks when they visited Frederick,so I had just a few stragglers and we had two Starting Lineups figures for Down East manager Howard Johnson.
Johnson had been a little overwhelmed in Frederick,but in Kinston,there was just two other graphers,so Johnson was very friendly in signing the figures.
I asked him about Frederick and the amount of graphers there and he laughed a bit and said "yeah,there were a lot of them out there".
By this time,the heat and the constant walking on concrete had begun to take its toll on my back,so I wasn't quite perfect,but the others were ready to take off soon as well.
Between some being hungry,some tired and another that had to do the driving home,we didn't stay long at Grainger with the exception of watching a few batters and hitting the small and snug team shop for some souvenirs,although I didn't buy any...
We left the stadium and drove to a favorite of Doug's Kings Barbecue,a few minutes away.
I still wasn't hungry though and I settled for a large drink,although Doug gave me a little bit of the meat that fell off his massive sandwich to try the food.
It was quite good and I wished that I was a little hungry!
The ride home was long,but we had lots of fun,talking sports,graphing and of course the trip itself.
I wouldn't be against a return to Grainger Stadium,it did remind me a lot of Hagerstown-IF Hagerstown spent more money to try to upgrade and maintain the facility in a similar manner as Kinston does!
And I'd like to spend more time there next time,but it made sense to leave all things considered.
Thanks to all my friends for going on the trip with me and all the fun things we did as well as knocking a lot of signatures out.
Looking forward to the next trip in July with stops in Augusta GA,Kannapolis and Winston-Salem NC along with Danville VA!!