Monday, July 17, 2017

Road Trip:Winston-Salem

The final day of our trip would see Mike Oravec and I hit two more stadiums,stop by to see two more and able to graph four more teams as we worked our way home.

The start of the day came early as Mike and I sat around and spent the early morning talking with the Parrish family.
It was so enjoyable that I almost didn't want to leave,but all things must come to an end.
Thanks to the Parrishes for allowing me to come into their home and treating me so well...

Mike and I decided to start our trip with a stop in Burlington NC and a stop at Burlington Athletic Park,home of the Burlington Royals of the Appalachian League.
Mike wanted to check on jerseys for sale,while I liked adding a ballpark to the " been there,but not for a game list",but more importantly scout the place out for my visit to Burlington for a game in August.

Mike bought a game used jersey for both himself and a friend of his that lives elsewhere.
Me? I passed.I await the day that I can squeeze into a jersey like that again,but we aren't there yet.
I took some pictures in Burlington,but I'll save them for the trip review next month,but I do have a idea of just what park BAP reminds me of and I'll wager that you'll never guess in a middle years just what park came to mind!
We left BAP with a specific eatery in mind as the Parrish's highly recommended Hursey's BBQ in Wilmington.
Mike is a big BBQ fan and particularly of the Carolina style as he attended college in North Carolina.
I ordered the 4 piece white meal of their "Broasted Chicken" which brags of "95% less grease" than the standard fried chicken because it is prepared inside a pressure cooker.
It came with 2 breasts and the option to replace the two wings with two legs.
I did so and then gave them to Mike along with the breaded hush puppies instead for his cole slaw.
Swapping food like baseball cards is always fun and satisfying to both when you move items that aren't your bag for ones more to your liking.
Alas the slaw was more sweet than tart sadly for me,although it was passable.
Cole Slaw varies from place to place and it is very subjective to what's good and what's not.
Anyway,I liked Hursey's and I'll bet the "Rib Man' Fred Landucci will want to give it shot in August!

We left next to drive to Greensboro and the plan was to check out the ACC's Hall of Champions.
Sadly when we arrived,we discovered that it was only open on Thursday,Friday and the weekend.
Too bad for me,I would have really liked to have re-lived my old passion for ACC basketball.
Since they were closed.we drove a few miles to Greensboro's stadium,the home of the SAL's Grasshoppers.
Long time readers might remember that ten years ago in my previous visit,I hadn't been impressed by the Hoppers customer service and lousy autographing stadium on my trip there with Ryan and Battlin' Bob.
I hadn't known that Greensboro had a morning game and had I known,I might have pushed to give Greensboro another chance and Mike had never been there.
Mike wanted to see about some programs and the game was over,so we went to the team shop to see about his programs and the door was locked-despite it being 3;00 and the door noted that the shop was "open until four on gamedays".
We were groaned at as "Brooke" went to look reluctantly and I stepped into the concourse for a picture or two.
I was told they are "cleaning" and "it's been a long day".I did get one picture,but ten years later,Greensboro still ranks low on my list.

There were graphers by the bus as the Lakewood Blue Claws were making their only visit to Greensboro all year and their graphers were out and about.
If you remember reading about my trip to Norfolk in May,you might remember my story about a particular grapher and his boorish behavior toward me and Derreck as well as toward White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada.
Well,as we walked by,this "gentleman" was graphing Lakewood,I gritted my teeth and walked by,all the while grumbling to Mike that if he showed up in Winston-Salem,he was going to hear about it.
Fortunately for him,he didn't go to the game in Winston-Salem.

We drove to Winston-Salem to continue to run out the clock and we stopped by a bakery there named Dewey's to get some treats for Mike's mom (I'm far from a huge sweets eater),a McDonald's to keep hydrated (it was really hot) and we were across the street from the original Krispy Kreme (they are coming to Hagerstown soon,I hear) as part of a few stops,but the stop I really wanted to make was at Ernie Shore Field.
On the trip ten years ago,we stopped by Ernie Shore and the Wake Forest football stadium next door,Groves Stadium to take a look around and snap some pictures.
Back then,the Dash played there and were named the Warthogs,but the time was running out there as the new stadium was being built.
Today.Wake Forest owns Ernie Shore Field for their men's baseball team and the field is named after David Couch,who was the top donor for a renovation.
The outside looked pretty similar,but looking through the gates (we didn't get in unlike ten years ago),it's clear that the school has put major money into the stadium with new turf (My guess is artificial),a new scoreboard and upgraded seating.
It's amazing how colleges get money to improve places with the drop of the hat,yet pro teams (minor league) often have to fight for every nickel.
Next door at Groves,that name is history too as it's now BB&T (along with everything in Winston-Salem) Field.

My picture there last time was of the top of the entry way with the Deacon logo,which also is replaced-this time by the generic WF.
It's too bad that you have to sell history to get things finished,but it is the way of the world.
I've always been a passionate Big 10 football fan,but I have great memories of ACC football from the days when the ACC was more along the lines of the Group of Five in football.
I would love to make an September or October trip some year to Groves (nee BB&T) or Raleigh's Carter-Finley Stadium (or whatever NC State has sold its name to) and see a live game.

After that,it was off to BB&T Ballpark,the home of the Winston-Salem Dash.
We entered the park through the outfield entrance and while you wait,you look up at the imposing scoreboard-I'm not saying that the scoreboard is the largest I've ever seen,but from the angle,it sure seems that way!
When you walk into BB&T Ballpark,you are immediately hit by the design of the place-Very wide concourses,plenty of concessions and room to breathe makes BB&T Ballpark very user friendly and a park that would make the most claustrophobic person happy.

Mike went to graph the home Dash,while I went down to a small tucked away corner to do the visiting Carolina Mudcats.
I got a few for myself from the Carolina League All-Star set and was happy to get some top 100's signed for Kendall Morris,but it came with maybe the worst interaction that I have all year with a player.
I'm not going to name the player because it's possible that he just had a bad day,but he was downright rude and I was the only person that needed him.
These things happen.

Walking down the steps to the field,I saw a familiar face that to my surprise recognized me with a smile and a handshake in CJ Johnson.
CJ was a Suns employee back in the early years of the blog during the Will Smith era,so I must say I was mildly surprised when he welcomed me to Winston-Salem because I wasn't shy about criticizing the team in those years.
I learned something from that-Be careful what you wish for or in this case write.
I was often critical of Will Smith at that time and most of that was fair on reflection (in my opinion anyway),but I learned that the grass isn't always greener elsewhere as we've seen since Mandalay sold the team.
CJ was always one of the good guys back then and didn't beat up on me too badly when I was critical.
It was nice seeing him and I wish I had more time to catch up with him...

We watched a few innings and reluctantly left since if we were going to make it to Danville,there was a time deadline.
Let me say this about BB&T Ballpark-I loved it!
It wasn't an overtly urban park like Akron for example,but it seemed to have enough of a taste of their community that it wasn't more than a cookie cutter park either.
I've been to every park in the Carolina League (Myrtle Beach,I have been inside and looked around,but not for a game) and I would rank Winston-Salem at the top.
Beautiful place and I definitely have Winston-Salem listed as a place that I would love to return to often through the years.

Back tomorrow with the final leg of the trip-the last few hours with the Danville Braves unless something important breaks...

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