Return to the Road, Pt. 2: Fried Chicken and Baseball History
Yesterday’s post detailed the exceedingly modest recreational and culinary diversions I was able to fit into the first three days of my recent road trip through the Carolinas. Well, there’s more where that came from!
Today, this epic saga of roadside triviality continues with…
Day Four — En Route to Durham
I generally try to avoid fast food, but sometimes exceptions must be made. Throughout the previous two days I had seen several Bojangles chicken and biscuit restaurants, and each time I was tempted to stop.
One, because fried chicken joints are by far by favorite fast food subgenre (Popeye’s remains king, in my mind). And, two, because Kinston Indians owner Cam McRae owns and operates over 50 Bojangles franchises.
So when I came across a Bojangles upon leaving Kinston, I felt that it was my destiny to get lunch there.
Unfortunately, I neglected to remember the blog comment left by Matt “Possum187” Campbell, recommending the chicken supremes with honey mustard dipping sauce. Instead, I went with a standard two-piece meal, with a side of pinto beans, biscuit, and sweet tea (sweet tea is something I really miss, I wish it was more widely available in the northeast).
Those mustard packets were the result of me trying and failing to re-collect Possum’s comment (to everyone — I take your comments/emails/tweets very seriously, and always do my best to follow-up. Keep ’em coming). As for the fried chicken, I’d rank it well above soggy and low-quality KFC, but slightly below the uber-crisp and well-spiced offerings at Popeyes.
(Again, Popeyes is my favorite fast food chain, the only one I seek out here in NYC. I do regret, however, that they have severed their connection to Popeye the sailor man. Fleischer Brothers-era Popeye is, in my opinion, the greatest cartoon of all time.)
From Bojangles it was off to nearby Wilson, NC — home of the collegiate Coastal Plains League Wilson Tobs. There wasn’t a game going on — I just wanted to check out 73-year-old Fleming Stadium and its attached “North Carolina Baseball Museum.”
The surroundings were sleepy and residential, everything seen through a filmy haze of humidity.
The ballpark itself is old-fashioned and no-frills, as one would expect from a facility built as a WPA project in 1938.
Located down the third base line is the aforementioned baseball museum.
Inside, there are two rooms jammed floor-to-ceiling with North Carolina baseball artifacts. The first room is largely taken up with mementos and memorabilia relating to Major League players who have hailed from the state, with seven standalone displays related to North Carolinians now enshrined in Cooperstown.
The back room has uniforms, historical displays, and a wide assortment of miscellaneous Minor League memorabilia.
I was truly amazed to come across this — a team photo of the 1960 Tobs, managed by none other than current Marlins skipper Jack McKeon. Talk about a baseball life! It seems almost inconceivable, but McKeon’s managerial career began in the Eisenhower administration.
More on the North Carolina Baseball Museum can be found in this MiLB.com piece. I would certainly recommend visiting, and, if possible, follow up with a trip to nearby Dick’s Hot Dogs. I wasn’t able to make it (Durham awaited), but museum volunteer Eddie Boykin told me that the place is stocked with memorabilia and often populated by chatty old-timers always ready to tell their favorite baseball yarns.
It sure looks like a great spot.
I lifted the above photo from brandonsneed.com. Click HERE to read his piece on Dick’s.
There’s still more to come, of course, hot dog-related and otherwise. As always, critiques, comments, concerns, and commendations are appreciated.