Results tagged ‘ Asheville Tourists ’
Part one of this Asheville Tourists saga included ziplining onto the field from a hill overlooking the stadium, so I suppose you could say that it was a real cliffhanger. Today that cliffhanger concludes in stunning fashion, so long as your definition of “stunning” is more along the lines of “exactly what you would expect.”
Let’s get to it! When we last left off, the skies were clearing and this Saturday evening ballgame was finally ready to begin.
But as the ballgame was beginning, I was not in the seating area. Instead, I had taken advantage of the delay and met up with one Kelly Noble. Mrs. Noble, a mother of two boys who lives in nearby Hendersonville, had been chosen as the evening’s “designated eater” (for those new to the blog, the “designated eater,” or DE, consumes the ballpark delicacies which my gluten-free diet prohibits).
The team held a Facebook contest prior to my arrival to choose the designated eater, and she earned this honor by responding thusly:
Because I am a mom of 2 teenage boys who love baseball and so I usually end up with the last chip, fry, an empty cup. Plus I work full time and today’s lunch was a bagel I found in the fridge from last week. I would love a fresh hot dog and nachos I don’t have to share!!
Most of the available seating options were a bit damp after the recent rain storm, so Kelly and I sat on a circular brick wall in the concourse area. Tyler Holt, an intern with Professional Sports Catering (the Tourists’ food and beverage company), soon arrived bearing gifts.
Contained underneath was an order of pork nachos and, in keeping with the Asheville Tourists’ lunar theme, a deep-fried Moon Pie!
My designated eater was all for a dessert-first approach. Ladies and gentlemen, Kelly Noble!
I am always hesitant to take pictures that seem like they were simply meant to embarrass, but Kelly had a great attitude about the whole thing.
“I just want my boys to be able to laugh at me,” she said with a smile, while posing for a series of pictures such as the above. Kelly grew up with brothers and now has sons, and was clearly used to being in the minority, gender wise. I appreciated her great sense of humor and could relate somewhat — I am the oldest of three boys , and growing up my own mother took a similarly light-hearted and tolerant approach to our relentless competitions and bodily function-based comedic approach.
And you know what? Since this game actually occurred during Mother’s Day weekend I’d like to belatedly wish Kelly, my own mother Elaine Cooper and, well, all moms a belated “Happy Mother’s Day!”
But we were on the subject of Moon Pies.
“I’m trying to think of the best adjective to describe it. Wow…yeah…I don’t know! You’re the writer!” said Kelly, before finding the words. “It was delicious and filling!”
The Moon Pie was part of a smorgasbord that included the pork nachos, a “Wee-Heavyer” ale from Asheville’s French Broad brewing company and a gluten-free option in the form of chips and hummus (!)
But this being Asheville, it wasn’t just any hummus.
I hope you think this is funny, boys.
Speaking of, they soon showed up to check out what was going on.
Kelly’s sons are the two in the middle, 12-year-old Cole and 14-year-old Taylor. The friend on the right was turning his head because he was on a quest for phone numbers from young female fans and one must have been walking by. Even though he was 14 he seemed to think he had a shot with anyone up through age 20 or so. I admired the confidence.
And then, because too much is never enough, more food arrived. Pulled Pork Dog!
“The key is if the BBQ is good, and this is. It’s BBQ central down here,” said Kelly. “This is a great combination of flavors and…I don’t know. You’re the writer!”
Despite Kelly’s best efforts there was quite bit of food left over. “Time to use Mom skills,” she said, and within two minutes the entire smorgasbord had somehow been reduced to a neat stack that was easily taken back to the seats by her and the boys. And with that, Designated Eater #4 of the 2013 season had concluded her duties.
I’ve written about 1900 words over the course of these two Asheville-based blog posts, and yet still haven’t arrived at a point of time in which actual professional baseball was being played on an actual professional baseball field. Let’s rectify by taking a trip out there.
I loved this general admission seating area located down the first base line, which features plenty of room in which to spread out. Some fans bring their own chairs, and I was told that on hot days sunbathers are a common sight.
McCormick Field is 89 years old, and as such the amenities are sometimes in short supply. This converted office building located down the first base line is the only suite available.
In talking about McCormick, Tourists president Brian DeWine told me that “we’re as landlocked as landlocked can be.” This concourse photo gives an indication of just how constrained the team is in their operations.
Despite my previous concessions-based coverage, I never showed any pictures of the concession stands themselves. Again with the rectification:
Back in the seating area, I noticed that Mr. Moon’s attention was directed skyward.
He was checking out the rainbow!
Okay, Vine Time! Six seconds of brilliance, guaranteed.
And, finally, Mr. Moon was out there for more than just rainbow observance purposes. Would it surprise you to know that he can do the moonwalk, and is a great dancer in general?
As night fell, the already picturesque surroundings became even more picturesque. I will illustrate this with pictures.
Action in the home bullpen:
But for an even closer view of the action, try the dugout suites. $30 buys a catered meal from the fried chicken and biscuits juggernaut that is Bojangles (the seating area’s sponsor) and one of the closest views of the action one can find in professional baseball.
While sitting in this area, I made the following Vine. It is, truly, six seconds of brilliance.
I then retreated to the area behind home plate, in an attempt to document the perfect example of a 90 degree leg kick. I certainly took this picture at the right angle!
That young man on the mound, whoever he was, soon closed out the victory for Asheville. Good game, good game.
And good night from McCormick Field! I’ve been to a lot of ballparks over the last four seasons, but this one was an all-time favorite.
I arrived at McCormick Field at about 6 o’clock on a rainy Friday evening, and I must have been in a rush as it appears I didn’t take any shots of the stadium before entering. The saga begins, photographically, with this:
That’s none other than Mr. Moon, who was introduced as part of the Tourists’ re-branding campaign prior to the 2011 season. I wrote an article about it at the time, which included the following quote from (then) new president/ownership group member Brian DeWine.
“We had the desire to change and wanted something fun and exciting that told the history of baseball in Asheville,” said Tourists president Brian DeWine. “The original [professional] team in Asheville was called the Moonshiners, and that got us thinking about the moon and how many people have watched Tourists baseball under the moon through the years….Plus, we always joke that the moon is the ultimate Tourist destination.”
Good to know, but that begs the question: Why is this team called the “Tourists” in the first place? DeWine explained that one to me shortly after I arrived at the stadium:
“The name was first used in 1915….Everyone on the team was from out of town, so the locals said ‘Well, we’ll call them the Tourists, then.”
And here we are, 98 years later, and the team is STILL the Tourists. Meanwhile, they’re playing in a stadium that’s almost as old as the team name. McCormick opened in 1924, with Ty Cobb playing the outfield on Opening Day. By my reckoning that makes it the second-oldest Minor League stadium, behind only Vermont’s Centennial Field.
But anyway — I fear that this early influx of words has caused me to lose a sizable portion of my readership. Here’s a picture:
The above photo is by no means a good one, but it illustrates three things:
1) It was a pennant giveaway night, which is what Mr. Moon was brandishing in that first picture.
2) The main entrance is on a residential street. (Depending on one’s perspective, it would be either really cool or deeply annoying to live so close to a stadium.) This is indicative of the extent to which the field is tucked into its surroundings, with no room whatsoever to expand.
3. As a result of some long-ago architectural misfire, the ticket window is located inside the stadium. That leads to the rather awkward entrance set-up, in which fans pass under the archway, advance to the ticket window, and then proceed through a small opening in the improvised barricade.
The view on this overcast evening, immediately after passing through said barricade:
I soon made it on to the field and, uh, what’s this?
To answer a question I already knew the answer to: That is a zipline, extending from the backstop some 300+ feet all the way up to a hill overlooking left field. Before every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday contest the game ball is delivered by a fan via the zipline.
This endeavor is sponsored by Asheville Zipline and Canopy Adventures, one of the region’s many providers of outdoor entertainment. The company’s employees are on hand to set up and take down the zipline (DeWine boasts that it can be done in six minutes flat), and also accompany the chosen fan on the 300-foot journey homeward.
“The first year we did [the zipline] 70 times, but found that it got a little repetitive, so now we save it for the bigger games,” said DeWine. “On Boy Scout night, the kids will do it until midnight, when we finally have to curfew them.”
I went up there to check it out.
Soon enough, I was invited by the friendly zipline guides to give it a try for myself. All I had to do in exchange was sign my life away.
It was fun, although our combined weight was a little above optimal and we didn’t quite make it to the designated target laid out just to the right of home plate. (I am, as I type this, the fattest I’ve ever been in my life). Upon landing my guide and I looped back up to the top of the hill, and I am including this picture of our walk partially as a means to convey just how verdant McCormick’s surroundings are.
Upon arrival, I handed off the zipline reins to the fan who had been chosen (via a concourse raffle) to deliver the game ball. She was psyched. (I apologize that I do not have her name, nor the name of my zipline guide. My excuse was that it had started to rain by this time, and I didn’t want to get my notebook soaked.)
Want to see the zipline in action? Here’s my Vine video, which, like all Vine videos, is six seconds long.
Usually the game ball delivery signifies the start of the game, but the rain was coming down hard enough that its start was delayed. So, more pre-game wandering was destined to occur.
It may be a bit difficult to see, but here there are two things I’d like to point out.
1). The right field fence is only 297 feet away. This is certainly tempting for left-handed batters, but home runs are harder than they appear because what the fence lacks in distance it makes up for in height. At 36 feet, it is just a foot shorter than Fenway’s iconic Green Monster.
2). The scoreboard reads “Visitors” and “Tourists.” Never not funny.
This shot of the visitor’s dugout also provides a good view of the roof, which is held up with imposing concrete slabs that convey a sturdy masculinity.
McCormick was originally a largely wooden edifice, but has taken on a more concrete form after renovations in 1959 and (especially) 1992. Its old-time charm is completely intact, however, as I hope these pictures have shown and will continue to show.
This picnic area, located down the third base line, was pretty sedate on this drizzly evening.
If I had been at McCormick Field just one day earlier, however, it would have been a far different scene. For Asheville is the original home of the Thirsty Thursday promotion, and it remains the most popular night of the week. I wrote all about this in my aforementioned MiLB.com article; click HERE to read it.
Next to the picnic area is the visitor’s dugout, where coaches and players (and what appears to be a cop) were waiting out the rain delay.
That mural may look familiar, as it is featured in the movie Bull Durham. Crash Davis ends his career as a member of the Tourists, and a scene was shot at McCormick. WATCH!
Want an idea of just how long McCormick Field has been around? This photo hangs in DeWine’s office, taken during the 1924 season. As was standard practice in the South at the time, the seating areas were segregated. Behind home plate was for whites while black fans had to watch from down the third base line.
Meanwhile, here on a Friday evening in 2013, the skies had begun to clear.
Get out to the grandstand, Mr. Moon. It’s almost game time!
As you may have been able to guess, this post is going to be a two-parter. If Mr. Moon could talk, he’d surely tell you to check back soon for the riveting conclusion of this McCormick Field saga.
As everyone is well aware, today is 11/11/11. This marks the only time in our lifetimes that the date will be represented with six ones across the board, and — of course! — anomalous occurrences should be celebrated.
Within Minor League Baseball there is an established precedent for numerically-inclined (and often absurdly intricate) date-related promotions, so this morning I monitored my Twitter and Facebook feeds with an unwavering sense of purpose. And Minor League Baseball, once again, did not disappoint. Some highlights of my searching:
– The South Bend Silver Hawks offered fans a package, in which 11 tickets could be obtained for $11 between 11 and 11:11 a.m. Later, the team reported to me via Twitter that 24 of these packages (a total of 264 tickets) were sold.
– Perhaps inspired by the Silver Hawks, the Gwinnett Braves made the exact same offer at the last minute. “FANS- this just in- 11 tickets for $11!! You have until 11:11 AM to call in!” read the post on the team’s Facebook page.
– In Asheville, the Tourists offered a deal that was good for all of one minute. At 11:11, all hats and t-shirts were available for $11.11 at the team’s “Tourist Trap” store (five hardy but certainly not tardy souls took them up on it).
– Somewhat similarly, the Daytona Cubs offered a 2011 team hat for $11 all day. And with the purchase of said hat, fans received a coupon good for $5 off a new 2012 logo hat. (As you may recall, the D-Cubs recently unveiled a new logo).
Finally, in State College (where nothing else of note is going on), the Spikes amply demonstrated their Facebook power. At 11:11, the team posted the following:
’LIKE’ THIS POST FOR A CHANCE TO WIN! We need 111 people to LIKE this post!
If our goal is reached by 5 p.m. then we will randomly select one of the participants as the winner of TWO FREE SPIKES TICKETS and a MICHAEL ROBINSON SIGNED BALL (former Penn State QB and current NFL player). Happy 11/11/11!
As of this writing (2:30 EST), a whopping 164 people have already clicked the like button on the above missive. Impressive!
As I am writing this, 11:11 has yet to arrive on the West Coast. However, I have not come across any PST teams doing anything similar. Is this time zone disdainful of detail-oriented numerical promotions? Say it ain’t so!
And look at that! It ain’t so! At 11:11, the Fresno Grizzlies announced the following: For one day only, on Friday November 11, fans can get 11 Field Box vouchers for just $11 each (normally $16), as well as $11 in Grizzlies Bucks for FREE – that’s a $187 value for just $121!
Clearly, Minor League Baseball is #1.
In news of a non-sequitur nature, did you know that mascots have the power to create earthquakes?
What a load of bull.
I’ve learned never to say never in this crazy game called life, but I can say with a strong degree of certainty that THIS will be the last new logo unveiled this offseason:
Yes, the Tucson Padres now have an identity. It is indebted to the San Diego Padres duds of yore (1978-84, specifically), and also incorporates Tucsonian elements via the mountains and cacti. In a 2010 first (save for the Kannapolis Intimidators alternate mark), the logo was NOT designed by either Plan B Branding or Studio Simon. Rather, it was the work of the San Diego Padres Creative Services Department.
T-Pads merch won’t be available for several more weeks, due to the fact that the logo just received official approval. For more on the logo and recent Tucson developments, click HERE. For some background on why a Pacific Coast League is back in Tucson in the first place, click HERE.
In a nutshell, the team will play in Tucson for at least two seasons after moving from Portland. The plan is to then move to Escondido, CA. Stay tuned.
And since I’m on the topic of logos, surely one of the most memorable marks to have been unveiled this offseason is the Asheville Tourists’ “Mr. Moon”.
Well, now Mr. Moon needs a name.The Tourists want suggestions, with entries judged based on creativity, regional relevance and family-friendliness. The first thing that comes to my mind is “Keith”, and your response to that should be “Who?”
Ah, nevermind. I’m out of here.
After two weeks of sustained internet hype, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have finally unveiled their new logos to an eager and waiting fan base. Or should I say uncoiled their new logos:
“We were looking to freshen up our look as well as bring in new elements,” said Rob Zerjav, Timber Rattlers team president. “The jersey logo is a little edgier than the past logo and we now have an alternate logo that does not incorporate the snake, which gives us some additional branding opportunities. We are also pleased to keep our very familiar ‘W with the snake wrap’ logo as this logo is what Timber Rattlers fans identify with and it continues to be one
of the most popular logos in all of Minor League Baseball.”
While the aforementioned alternate logo doesn’t incorporate Fang the snake, it is rather fang-like. I’d like to think that Teddy Roosevelt would have chosen this logo to adorn his cuff links:
Continues the press release: The new Timber Rattlers home jerseys will feature a silver ‘TIMBER’ placed on top of a maroon ‘RATTLERS’. The outer stems of the ‘A’ and the second ‘R’ in RATTLERS have been extended and curved to resemble the fangs of a snake.
Visual representation of the above text, featuring uniforms worn by eye-less, four-armed robo-men.
And, lest we forget, these new duds would make great Christmas gifts for all the reptile-loving Minor League Baseball aficionados in your household.
The Rattlers’ updated look was designed by Studio Simon, who seem to be one of only two logo design companies that Minor League teams will work with.
It’s certainly been a big week for logo news, and I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t share the following link. Dave Levy over at SportsGrid blog thinks he may have discovered the motivation for the Asheville Tourists’ ribs-eating moon logo.
Writes Levy: I’ve watched the SNL Best of Will Ferrell more times in my life than I can count, so there is only one possible thing in the world I think this could be a tip of the cap toward: Ferrell’s brilliant Harry Caray impression. As he asks, ”It’s a simple question, doctor, would you eat the moon if it were made of ribs?
Plan B Branding designed the logo, and I emailed co-founder Jason Klein for comment on this most important issue. He played it coy, however, writing that he could “neither confirm or deny” Levy’s speculation.
Jeez, I’m exhausted after so much investigative reporting. Time to go take a nap.
Today is a big day on the North Carolina League logo front, as both the Asheville Tourists and Kinston Indians have overhauled their identities. This post will focus on the Tourists, who are making like Margaret Wise Brown on opposite day and saying “Hello Moon”!
But that’s “Mr. Moon” to you, as that’s the name of the shades-wearing natural satellite featured prominently on the new cap design.
In an homage to the moon’s longstanding reputation as a preeminent provider of nocturnal light, the above image glows in the dark.
“The concept pays tribute to countless moon-lit nights at McCormick Field, during which the Tourists have become part of the summer fabric for families throughout the Land of the Sky….The Tourists are the first team to incorporate a moon into their identity program. The closest may have occurred 100 years ago, when the Asheville team in the Class D Southeastern League (1910) and the Appalachian League (1911-12) was known as the Moonshiners.”
And in case you didn’t know, Mr. Moon is a big fan of ribs that float through space until reaching his eager crater-filled maw. This is an alternate logo, and a brilliant one at that:
And let’s not forget the batting practice cap, which features Mr. Moon utilizing his trusty hobo’s bindle as a bat:
What it all adds up to is a happy constellation of logos:
And speaking of cola: “RC” you later, as I’ve got a plane to catch. I’ll provide additional logo news and posts as soon as I am able. In the meantime, what’s YOUR opinion on all this?
The biggest thing to come down the proverbial pike today was the announcement that the Asheville Tourists have been sold to an ownership group led by the family of former United States Senator Mike DeWine. Once the deal becomes official (in March, most likely), Brian DeWine will assume presidency of the club. Brian, the fifth of eight DeWine children, is no stranger to Minor League Baseball. He interned with the Greenville Braves and Savannah Sand Gnats before spending four seasons with the Southern League’s Carolina Mudcats.
Read all about it HERE (at the very least, know that I am very proud of my lead sentence).
And since I’m on the more serious tip today, I wanted to highlight one of the State College Spikes’ most recent initiatives. The club is encouraging fans to write letters to Chris Simmons, a member of the 2008 Spikes who is currently serving in Iraq.
Simmons’ story is an interesting one. He was drafted in the 41st round of the 2008 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and sent to the Spikes in order to begin his professional career. He was one of three West Point cadets to be drafted that year, joining teammate Cole White and Drew Clothier of the Florida Marlins. Soon thereafter, the military amended its policy regarding professional athletes and the three were forced to put their baseball careers on hold.
Read more about it HERE.
But regardless of the specifics, the fact remains that Simmons is now in Iraq, serving as a Platoon Leader for the First Armor Division. Those wishing to send him a letter can do so via the following address:
State College Spikes
c/o Chris Simmons
112 Medlar Field at Lubrano Park
University Park, PA 16802
And more on the Spikes’ initiative can be read HERE.
Finally, it has become my habit as of late to re-post interesting photos that I come across via team Twitter and Facebook accounts. Here’s one I found today, which shows how decidedly un-Spring-like it currently is in Erie, PA:
And since there’s “snow” more to write about, I’m going to call it a day.
Long-time readers of this blog (they exist!) are aware that I am a big fan of nightly races that take place in Minor League ballparks. More specifically, races that involve recurring costumed characters sprinting through foul territory as if their lives depended on it.
A shining example of this would be the Spiedie Races that took place in Binghamton last season. The drama and intrigue surrounding these battles gradually reached a fever pitch, but a Sopranos-esque anti-climax resulted in far more questions than it answered.
But that was last season. Let’s talk about 2009, because the Asheville Tourists have something interesting going on. I will now defer to an email I received from Tourists broadcaster Ben Levine:
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with
the city of Asheville, but it’s pretty unique and it is known for a few things
in particular. Among them is its reputation for being one of the nation’s hubs
for independent breweries. There are a bunch of local and regional breweries in
and around the area.
This season, [lead broadcaster] Jay [Burnham]
got five of the local breweries to sign on to sell their beers on our concourse
at a ‘Local Beers of Asheville’ stand, and he also got them to sponsor what
we’re calling ‘The Great Asheville Beer Race.’ It’s basically comparable to the
Hot Dog race in Milwaukee and the Presidents racing in Nationals Stadium. We
ordered five different beer costumes and distributed them to each sponsor for
decoration. We will run the races for Thursday-Saturday games, and we use fans
to run the race, offering a brewery T-shirt to the winner.
This sounds awesome. All I need now is some good ol’ photographic evidence.
Thanks! Now, I would like to see a picture featuring the gentleman on the far right. Make it happen, computer.
I just came to the realization that the above picture features a man with a head on his head.
Until next time, I remain,