On the Road: At Home Amongst the Tourists in Myrtle Beach
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans do not play in a typical Minor League market. Not by a long shot.
On the plus side, Myrtle Beach is a region inundated with tourists and therefore the team can market themselves to an ever-changing fan base with ample discretionary income. But, conversely, there is a lot of competition for that entertainment dollar (Helicopter Rides! Ripley’s Believe it or Not! The Carolina Opry!)
I mean, there was some sort of amusement park right outside of my hotel.
The Pelicans’ BB&T Coastal Field, built in 1999, fits right into the beachy environs.
Upon arriving at the stadium, I did a few player interviews with my trusty Flipcam. I realize these might not be the best, quality wise, but I do enjoy being able to get a sense of who the players are as people (and hope you do as well). And, almost to a man, they are very friendly and generous with their time. This go-round, I spoke with the uber-convivial trio of Barrett Loux, Jared Hoyer, and Robbie Ross.
And did you know that the Pelicans have three outfielders named Jared on their team? For the sake of obscure baseball fact junkies such as myself, I hope that one day they all play out there together at the same time.
But I digress. After talking to the players, I ran into my good friend Duffman.
Duffman was one of many costumed characters at the ballpark, as part of the Pelicans’ “Superhero” theme night. It was also, appropriately enough, Thirsty Thursday.
While the concourse was empty in the early going, the beer lines were packed.
And for good reason — time was a wastin’!
As part of the pre-game “festivities”, I did both a pre-game radio interview and then an on-field Q&A with Pelicans media relations director/radio announcer Tyler Maun. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — hearing your own voice on a delay over a stadium loudspeaker is a highly disconcerting experience.
Maun and I took turns making ridiculous faces.
The pre-game activities also included Catwoman interviewing a local baseball coach.
While outfielder Travis Adair took it upon himself to learn a new trade. Maybe he had wanted a better view of Catwoman?
Meanwhile, mascot Splash burst onto the field to a roar of applause.
During the exchange of the line-up cards, the umpires moderated a spirited debate between Pelicans manager Jake Wood and Blue Rocks skipper Brian Rupp about the proper way to wear one’s uniform pants.
Incidentally, after making my way back into the stands the mother of field umpire Ben Leake (on right) introduced herself to me and suggested that I do a piece on Minor League umpires. I told her that I already have — here it is, Mrs. Leake.
Once our country had been properly saluted, the game got underway. As I am wont to do in such situations, I commenced to wandering.
Sweet Carolina League All-Star game duds in the team store:
Business was booming at the “Pitcher’s Mound” and the “Bullpen Grille.”
Just past the Grille was this classic bit of Americana, the game within the game:
An ownership group led by Chuck Greenberg bought the Pelicans prior to the 2007 campaign, a transaction that led to a more creative and regionally appropriate ballpark atmosphere. For instance, what had once been bleacher seating down the right field line is now the “Contract Data Beach.”
Bleachers remain in left field, however.
But I’m a man of discerning tastes, disdainful of the hoi polloi. Therefore, I made my way to an ultra-exclusive seating area: the groundskeeper’s balcony perch overlooking right field.
While there, I interviewed noted turf-tender Chris “Butter” Ball. Read it on MiLB.com! Please!
To get to Butter’s lair, one must pass underneath the Pelican bullpen. I did so hastily, wary of the projectiles being endlessly spit forth from that particular area.
Having safely arrived back among the rabble, I ordered my dinner for the evening: a fried clam strip basket. I was told that the team has been offering a lobster sandwich this season, but Thursday was end of an eight-game homestand and they were nowhere to be found.
So fried clams it was.
The fried clam strips were great — perfect breading to clam ratio and possessing an excellent crispness. The fries, however, were a bit on the bland and mushy side.
And speaking of mushy (but never bland), I was then moved to order some boiled peanuts. In a nutshell: I love these things. Absolutely love ‘em. When I was in Alabama last year I bought a microwavable pouch of boiled peanuts at a gas station, but in the northeast they’re next to impossible to find.
As I enjoyed the various comestibles, I took in some of the game (for a change).
The Pelicans’ staff did a great job with the Superhero theme throughout — a nice touch was that each home player was assigned a super hero scoreboard graphic and theme song.
While Superman was at-bat, Batman was in the stands and signing autographs galore. His energy never Wayne-d when it came to this task.
My attempts to document the nightly crab race were similarly blurry. My suggestion — add an elderly crab to the race and name him “Grandfather Claws.”
Green Crab did not win, but at least he got some face time with Poison Ivy.
More importantly, the home team ended up with a come-from-behind victory.
But as you are no doubt well aware, the end of a game does not mean the end of the evening. Deuce the canine mascot came out for a “victory lap,” and disappointed me by not even defecating once.
Deuce was followed by the post-game launch-a-ball…
which was followed by fireworks…
which was followed by kids running the bases.
Only then was it time to go home. And home, in this case, was located next to an endlessly pendulating pirate ship.