Friday, July 14, 2017

Road Trip:Augusta

Yet another TRS road trip recap begins as my friend Mike Oravec and I visited four parks for games and another two to visit without a game.

I'll be recapping those as the week goes along,but we'll be moving along to our first stop and my biggest target of the year-Lake Olmstead Stadium in Augusta,Georgia and the home of the Augusta Greenjackets.

The Greenjackets are moving across the lake next season to a new stadium in North Augusta South Carolina and I wanted to add Lake Olmstead to the stadium map before the team left Georgia.
I wondered why the Jackets were leaving a stadium that isn't quite 30 years old,but my answer came before we even pulled up to the stadium-the neighborhood.
Every building with a business located in it had metal bars in the windows-never a good sign and when I would ask around later at the park,it was told to me that a day or two before,a players car had been broken into and that fans cars have been broken into as well.
If that is the case and I believe it is,I bet that is why the Jackets don't draw well.
I remember a conversation years ago when Augusta visited Hagerstown and then-pitching coach (now with Richmond) Steve Kline told me that when his wife visited Lake Olmstead he refused to have her drive to the park because she would have to drive home at night.

Lake Olmstead isn't a great visual park when you enter,but it's not awful either.
The grandstand is covered as it should be (in most places,but especially the South),but there are some parks that have zero shade available as you will see later on the trip..
The grandstand reminds me of the Muni though-the OLD Muni as when the grandstand had all metal bleachers without backs.
The Muni grandstand has those and makes it a more comfortable seating experience,but Lake Olmstead did have an addition in each section that Hagerstown does not-Fans above the area that are moved by the wind and at least attempts to keep the air flowing around you.
I know the city of Hagerstown doesn't want to put any more money than they have to into the Muni,but this would help keep the air circulating and maybe help a few more people want to pay the extra cost to sit in the grandstand.

Mike went to the third base side to graph the visiting Asheville Tourists,while I did the home Greenjackets.
Asheville came from down the left field line,while the home team had a dugout tunnel to come out of.
I was sitting along with one of the Augusta superfans as I was the only person graphing Augusta (other than a young group of females with baseballs that were graphing in a different manner!).
Susan King was wearing an Augusta Pirates jersey from "back in the day"and it was fitting since it was supposed to be "Augusta Pirates Weekend,where Augusta was supposed to wear throwback jerseys that would be auctioned off at the series end on Sunday.
I asked Susan if she would mind taking a picture for me so I could use it here and she graciously complied.
As it turned out,Susan (and another season ticket holder) would grumble about the Augusta manager,who they claimed refused to allow the team to wear those in favor of a camo version,which the team must wear a lot for home games.
I really didn't like those because the numbers were hard to read and as a result,I missed some players that I might not have,if they had worn the Pirates throwbacks.

Mike did much better than I and was able to add Riley Pint on his top 100 and SAL prospect as the big Rockies addition along with multiple team set cards.
I didn't do as well as Mike,but I did get Kelvin Beltre on his SAL prospect card among a few others.
Was very difficult as the only grapher and those awful uniforms to see guys and get them stopped.
Mike and I hit the team store where the logo shown above rested next and I bought shirts for the ladies and Ryan.
With Augusta being a Giants farm club,I wanted to get those for them,while Ryan has done so much for us of late and I wanted to pick him something up.
I told him to pick the team of his choice of the four teams we would be seeing and he selected Augusta as well,so my shopping was finished on the first stop with the exception of team sets for others at Kannapolis.

We settled into our seats to watch some of the game and began to work on dividing up our cards.
Suddenly,it began to get very dark and very windy in the second inning and we had a feeling that things were about to get bad!
The Greenjackets rolled the tarp on the field in anticipation of the thunderstorm as that happened Mike and I quickly decided to get out of Dodge!
We figured there would be a lengthy delay and between the delay and what was likely to be VERY humid weather following the storm and that's exactly what happened on this 98 degree day!
We ran to the car and went to eat at Xaxby's for dinner.
By the time that we left there,the weather was oppressively humid,so with a two hour drive to suburban Charlotte ahead,I think the decision was the correct one.

After Xaxby's,we made the drive to friends of Mike's,the Parrish family.
The Parrish's were so gracious to allow me to stay with them after never meeting me before and we stayed up for hours talking with Bob,Laurie and their great children Tucker and Will.
Tucker in particular reminded me of myself at the same age with just tons of sports knowledge.
Tucker can hang with me or anyone on what he knows and it made me smile with the memories of my own experiences as a teenager.
Will is just plain funny and he loved hearing Mike and I's stories from the autographing circuit.
I'll write more about the Parrish's on the next day's post,but what a kind and wonderful family.

I stayed up until 4 am quietly in my room,working on the blog,playing Strat-o-Matic and relaxing as everyone slept before getting a few hours of sleep to end a long but fun day.
In the end,I was happy to put Lake Olmsted Stadium on the list.
It was nothing special,but it gave me my first stadium in the state of Georgia and it added a park that won't be around much longer.
Great day!

Back tomorrow with the day in Kannapolis unless there is breaking news...

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