This part of the trip will be shorter because there isn't as much to recap,but still wanted to talk a little about the home of the Salem Red Sox and our stop there on the drive home..
Haley Toyota Field is a very nice High A ballpark and is located in what would be a perfect spot for the local sports fan,fitting snugly in between the Salem Civic Center and the football stadium that hosts the Division III national championship.
I had been here before in 1998 and the field looked pretty much the same as then except for the recent branding of Haley Toyota all over the place.
The stadium really does remind you of a stadium built in the 90's (1995) and has the type of second deck that could play in AA,if Salem ever decided to try for the level,it's that nice.
I love the wide concourse and nice sightlines from the lower bowl as well.
It's not perfect though,the upper deck seats do appear to go away from the field more than they should and it's not the best park that I've ever seen for autographing.
Fred,Mike and I arrived in the sixth inning,so we were able to watch some of the game and the lighting at Salem Memorial (the old name still gets used on the marquee") is very bright,in fact it might be the brightest that I've seen at a High A park.
We settled into very nice seats behind home plate and tried to find the main reason (for me at least) for this stop-Forrest Whitley.
Whitley is one of the Astros top prospects and wasn't around when the Buies Creek Astros made their only trip to Frederick,so I needed his Top 100.
With the Astros AA team being in Corpus Christi,Texas,if I didn't get Whitley in the Carolina League,the odds of getting him vastly decrease.
Fred went down to the charters to ask if any of those were Whitley,which they weren't and after watching the end of the game,we went to the field to try to get players coming off the field.
No dice other than one player coming from the bullpen as the teams hit their clubhouse through a dugout tunnel.
We asked an employee where the bus was located and we walked around the stadium and through a gate to wait for the Astros and hopefully Forrest Whitley.
Fred's quite the talker and he doesn't mind asking players their name when they walk to the bus in streetclothes.
I'm not as comfortable with that part of graphing,so having Fred around was very helpful to Mike and I on this and other nights.
We were able to get some cards signed,but Fred asked the second player out for his name and it was Whitley,who signed my three cards,including the top 100,so the two most important cards that I wanted to nab on this trip,I was able to get finished.
The three plus hour ride home was filled with conversation and it had to be hard on Fred driving,but I think we did Ok in keeping him entertained.
A fun and productive trip with good company,good food and plenty of places to see.
Looking forward to the next trips to finish the baseball season with Fred and Mike,this time a trip with each of them.
I'm going to try to write the promised Glen Campbell post either today or tomorrow...