Results tagged ‘ Burlington Royals ’

On the Road: “Moose” Meat and Smashed Cupcakes in Burlington

To see all posts from my July 4 visit to the Burlington Royals, click HERE. To see all my posts from my June/July 2016 Appalachian League Road Trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

As mentioned in the previous post, the Burlington Royals have a concession stand. All teams do.

img_0165But the B-Royals concession scene is not limited to the above area. There is also a tent. This tent is called “Grill 1986,” a reference to the team’s first season of Appy League existence. The grill itself probably hasn’t been around since 1986. Most grills don’t live that long.

img_0184At Grill 1986 I made the acquaintance of one Justin Moody.


Justin was, of course, my designated eater (the individual who consumes the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits). He works in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as a paralegeal, but grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania and is, as such, a huge Pirates fan. The first Minor League game he remembers attending was the Greenville, South Carolina-based Capital City Bombers (in 1992 or thereabouts), and he has since visited every park in the Carolinas. Justin’s a regular reader of this blog and said that he “thought it would be fun to join in on your journey, and lend my stomach to you.”

We began with the “Moose Taco”, an item that came into being because the girlfriend of B-Royals’ general manager Ryan Keur thought that was actually the name of Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.

The “Moose Taco”, truth be told, is more like a “Moose Burrito.”


Have at it, Justin.

Mikey Morrison, the B-Royals food and beverage overseer, told us that the contents of the Moose Taco “depends on the day.”

img_0188“Today it’s beef with cheese and jalapenos on the side,” he said. “Originally we would spell [the Moose Taco] like his name [Moustakas], but we made it the Moose Taco so that people would know what it is.”

“The pickled jalapenos give a nice little spice to it,” said Justin. “The meat has got a good smoky sear to it. I think it’s a burger patty that’s been cut up, but it’s really good. It eats pretty easily, the only thing in it is meat and cheese. You don’t get slowed down by lettuce or sour cream or whatever.”

Next up was Funnel Fries, marking the second time in as many days that one of my designated eaters consumed them (see also: Yankees, Pulaski).


Justin cleared his mind and opened his mouth.

img_1987“[The funnel fries] came out nice and warm. Not too oily or greasy, which I really appreciate,” he said. “They’re good and crunchy, with just enough powdered sugar. Sweet, without trying to create a new cavity. Pretty darn good.”

Justin, if you’ve noticed, is pretty darn good at articulating his food thoughts.

The food was washed down with a Red Oak beer, brewed in nearby Whitsett, North Carolina. Morrison explained that the team began offering it at the ballpark in 2015 and that it “quickly became a best seller.”

img_0194Justin described it as a “good red or brown ale…crisp and refreshing on a hot day. It’s got a good malt flavor to it. It’s one of my favorites, actually.”

Another local favorite on offer at the ballpark are cupcakes courtesy of Burlington’s Main Street Cake Shoppe.

img_1992Justin’s wife, Meghan, was also at the ballgame. For most of my time with Justin, she elected to remain in her seat and keep score (not a bad decision at all). But Justin recruited her to come to our grill-side location to help him consume the cupcake.
img_2013Perhaps inevitably, Justin ended up getting his just desserts.

“It’s nice and soft,” said Justin. “I’d say it’s pretty much the perfect cupcake, though a lot of it ended up on my face.”

Indeed, it did.

img_0192Despite suffering this dessert-based indignity, Justin had nothing but good things to say about his designated eating experience.

“There’s nothing wild or outrageous,” he said, of the Burlington concession scene. “Just really good basic ballpark food, and I appreciate that they’re supporting local businesses.”


On the Road: Patriotism and Presidential Candidates in Burlington

To see all posts from my July 4 visit to the Burlington Royals, click HERE. To see all my posts from my June/July 2016 Appalachian League Road Trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

My 10th and final stop on my all-encompassing Appy League trip was Burlington, North Carolina. Burlington is the home of the Royals, Kansas City’s Rookie-level affiliate. The Royals play at Burlington Athletic Stadium.

img_0162Believe it or not, Burlington Athletic Stadium was built in Danville, Virginia (where it was known as League Park). After the Danville Leafs ceased operation in the late 1950s, the ballpark was sold to a group of businessmen in Burlington. It was then disassembled, shipped 40 miles south via train, and reassembled in the spot where it stands today. I wrote an article about this, you can read it HERE.

img_0164I was in Burlington on a Monday. Usually when I visit teams on a Monday I hear all about how I should have planned my visit for some other day. But this was no ordinary Monday. It was July 4, a day to celebrate the birth of our wonderful, troubled, maddening nation. I was reminded that it was July 4 while walking toward the ballpark from the parking lot, as the fan in front of me was wearing a shirt featuring a silhouette of a man holding a gun.

“I’m sorry if my patriotism offends you,” it said at the top of the shirt. “Your lack of a spine offends me more,” it said on the bottom, below the picture of a man holding a gun.

It was surely patriots like this man who, in 1776, fought the British until Royal Concessions were made.

img_0165You may recall, as I may recall, that this was not the first time I visited the Burlington Royals. The year was 2011, and at that point in time the facility was most definitely in need of a few upgrades.


2011 file photo

A few upgrades have indeed occurred.

“Come with me,” said B-Royals general manager Ryan Keur. “I’ll show you.”


The visitor’s clubhouse showers, for example, have been relocated and renovated.

img_0167And…that’s the only example I have from the so-called bowels of the facility. But, believe me, many improvements have been made to Burlington Athletic Stadium over the last five years. The best improvements. It’s unbelievable. Like, these bleacher seats. They were added prior to the 2016 season, replacing bleacher seats that many people said were a disaster.  img_0169

Behind the bleachers was the “Inflatable Experience.”


The Inflatable Experience might result in abrasions, vertigo and joint pain, but it will also result in a “whole lot of fun.” Go hard or go home.


Meanwhile, at the bar, two sandals-wearing bearded gentlemen were attempting to ascertain if they had been separated at birth.


Just around the corner, I ran into Bingo.


Bingo is running for president, and he’s easily the best orange-hued candidate out there. Through a spokesperson, I found out that Bingo is a Democrat who seeks to strengthen relations with the Dominican Republic. He would appoint other mascots (except Danville’s Blooper!) to cabinet positions, and his slogan is “Si, Se Puede” (Yes, We Can!)

Bingo, you have my vote.


The great thing about being Bingo? You never dance alone.

I then made my way onto the field, which is always a beautiful place to be.


The grandstand retains its timeless charm.

img_1974The Royals were decked out in patriotic jerseys, and their patriotism didn’t offend me. I don’t know who that guy is on the far right, but Hubba Hubba!

img_1977The visiting Danville Braves, who played Burlington at home the night before, looked boring by comparison.

img_0179I threw out a ceremonial first pitch prior to the game, but I appear to lack any evidence of this fact. My notes say that my pitch was “way outside” “a perfect, searing strike” and that “number 41 caught it.”

The National Anthem was beautifully performed, but don’t take my word for it.

I spent the first several innings of the ballgame meeting with my designated eater, and that will be documented in the following post. I then witnessed a Baby Race from an up close and personal vantage point.

Soon thereafter, I took in the early evening Independence Day action from a rooftop.


The view in both directions was pleasing.


While on the roof, I visited the press box and spent an inning on the airwaves with Darren Zaslau.

It’s a long way down from the rooftop.


Back at sea level, more or less, I made my way to the front row and spoke with B-Royals fan (and expert heckler) David Horne.


In the above photo, Horne was taunting the bat boy as he made his way across the field.

“Go get it, boy! Hurry! That’s a good boy,” he shouted.

Horne has special taunts for all Appalachian League opponents, including “Stop the chop!”, “Smoke the Jays!” “Spank the Yanks”, “Hose the ‘Stros”, “Wet the Mets” and “Skin the Twins.”

Spending time with Horne reminded me of my 2011 Burlington visit, when fellow ballpark traveler Tug Haines recorded the following bit of classic Appy League heckling.

Danville won, 4-1, in a game that took just two hours and 12 minutes to play.


The ballgame was followed by a concerted attempt to pelt this man with tennis balls.


It was July 4th, after all. What could follow now but fireworks?


The men’s room was not a pretty sight immediately following the game, probably because that macho t-shirt guy I’d seen on the way in had too much to drink and his delicate little tummy-wummy couldn’t handle it. Nonetheless, I made an attempt to document the team’s legendary (in some circles) alumni urinals.

Not pictured: Jim Thome

Not pictured: Jim Thome

While in the bathroom, I quickly wrote and disseminated a Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke.

This concluded my time in Burlington, as well as the Appy League in general.

Thanks, guys. I did!


About Monday Night: Burlington Royals, July 4, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, when I return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. On Monday night I visited Burlington, North Carolina, the final stop on my 10-team Appy League road trip.

July 4: Burlington Athletic Stadium, home of the Burlington Royals (Rookie-level affiliate of the Kansas City Royals) 

Opponent: Danville Braves, 6:30 p.m. start time

Burlington Athletic Stadium, from the outside: 

IMG_0164Burlington Athletic Stadium, from within: 

IMG_1980Culinary Creation: The “Moose Taco”, named after Kansas City Royals standout Mike Moustakas. Moustakas never played for the Burlington Royals, but he did play for the Burlington (Iowa) Bees in 2008.

IMG_0188Ballpark Character: Presidential candidate Bingo, looking patriotic on the 4th.

IMG_0175At Random: Infantile shenanigans

Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

My Appy League articles on thus far: 

Fellowship in Greeneville

An Emotional Kingsport Debut

Radio Dreams in Johnson City

Up Next: 

My Appalachian League trip is now complete. Stay tuned throughout the month of July for more blog posts and articles. My next trip begins on August 1; designated eaters still needed in Sacramento, Visalia, Boise, Tri-City and Spokane.

August 1: Sacramento River Cats (vs. Salt Lake, 7:05 p.m.)

August 2: Stockton Ports (vs. Rancho Cucamonga, 7:10 p.m.)

August 3: Modesto Nuts (vs. Visalia, 7:05 p.m.)

August 4: San Jose Giants (vs. Modesto, 6:30 p.m.)

August 5: Visalia Rawhide (vs. Inland Empire, 7:00 p.m.)

August 6: Las Vegas 51s (vs. Fresno, 7:05 p.m.)

August 7: “Off”

August 8: Reno Aces (vs. Salt Lake, 7:05 p.m.)

August 9: “Off”

August 10: Boise Hawks (vs. Hillsboro, 7:15 p.m.)

August 11: Tri-City Dust Devils (vs. Spokane, TBD)

August 12: Spokane Indians (vs. Eugene, 6:30 p.m.)


Return to the Road, Part 3: Local Landmarks and Regional Delicacies

As part of my desire to milk my road trip content to the largest extent possible, I have been periodically posting odds and sods from my recent journey to the Carolinas. Part One featured crabs and a Civil War landmark, while Part Two highlighted regional fast food and North Carolina baseball history.

And that leads us to — what else? — part 3. This chapter starts with Day 5 of the trip, which started in Durham and ended in nearby Burlington. Let’s repeat that, this time in bold:

Day 5 — Durham to Burlington

I attended an eventful game on Saturday evening at palatial Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP), and followed that up the next morning by dropping in on the team’s former home. That would be the similarly-named but drastically different Durham Athletic Park (The DAP), which housed various incarnations of the club from 1926-94.


The ballpark is world-famous as a result of having been featured prominently in the classic film Bull Durham, but fell into disuse after the Bulls re-located to the DBAP.  Minor League Baseball, in partnership with the city of Durham, have since renovated the facility and it is now used as a training center for all manner of baseball jobs (more on that HERE).

The DAP also serves as the home field for a variety of youth and recreational leagues (including the excellent Durham Long Ball Program), and on the morning I stopped by I was expecting to tour the facility while one of these games was going on. But, as I later found out, all of the day’s activities had been canceled due to the heat.

Therefore, I was left to wander the perimeter of the stadium by my lonesome. Truly, there wasn’t a soul in sight.

The area surrounding the stadium had a somnambulant vibe as well, fitting for such a soporific Sunday morning.

But at least there were some unexpected patches of city-owned greenery.

Durham to Burlington (home of the Appalachian League Royals) is only about 35 miles, resulting in one of the lightest travel days of the trip. I took my time on this particular journey, first stopping for a late breakfast at reader recommended fast food chain Biscuitville.

The ambiance was a bit lacking, but I was able to obtain a country-fried steak biscuit, grits, and a sweet tea for the eminently reasonable price of $3.94.  I really wish I had this in front of me right now:

Upon leaving Biscuitville, I decided to locate some of this “Cheerwine” soda that had been so enthusiastically recommended to me by this blog’s contingent of North Carolina-based readers. I stopped at three convenience stores along the way and while none stocked Cheerwine I did nonetheless obtain some regional snacks.

For instance, I learned that Tom’s Potato Chips offers separate “Vinegar and Salt” and “Salt and Vinegar” flavor combinations.

But the above items were downright healthy compared to this devastating 1-2: Fatback and Fried Pork Skins from Carolina Country Snacks. Even though fatback is hard, unhealthy, and tough to eat I really like the stuff. I ate the whole bag that evening, yet another shameful solitary moment in a lifetime full of them.

And while not specifically a southern treat, nothing washes it all down better than a Mello Yello (in the absence of the still-elusive Cheerwine, of course).

From here to eternity

I think the main reason I keep buying this stuff is because I’m in love with the logo, which implies that the double-Ls in both words carry on past the label and into infinity.

I was soon distracted in my Cheerwine search by a series of billboards for a so-called “shopper’s heaven” by the name of J.R’s. The first billboard I saw advertised the store as the “USA’s Largest Cigarette Dealer,” but it only got more interesting from there. “Everything From Brassieres to Chandeliers!” was my personal favorite billboard, with “Awesome!” being a close second. It was duty to make a pit stop.

Shopper’s heaven included cigarettes, dolls, books…

And, of course, Sarah Palin toilet paper.

I was very proud of my personal J.R. haul, which probably sums up me as a person more than I’d care to admit.

Pretty self-explanatory, I think, except for the fact that those “Mr. B’s”  peanuts are deep-fried and meant to be eaten shell and all! As a regional snack food aficionado I was very happy to have found them, but it’s an idea that is better in theory than in practice.

The next stop on my detour-laden journey was Cookout, yet another reader-recommended regional fast food joint. The place turned out to be a “Double Drive-Thru,” with no indoor seating.

I ordered a “slaw dog” and — yes! — a Cheerwine float.

My first Cheerwine experience, albeit one compromised by vanilla ice cream. I still don’t know how to describe Cheerwine — it’s like a milder-tasting Cherry Coke with a hint of Dr. Pepper, but with a sparkling effervescence all its own.

Thank You God For America!

Cheerwine appeared in my post on that evening’s Burlington Royals game, a dispatch which also included this image of the team’s men’s room:

However, I have since been informed, by reader Matt Campbell, that the Thome nameplate has gone missing! Observe:

If anyone has any info on what happened to the Thome nameplate, then please get in touch!

But in happier news, it is worth noting that the Burlington women’s bathroom is decorated in similarly appealing fashion. Reader Rebecca Campbell (yes, Matt’s wife) was kind enough to send along these images of a land in which I had not dared to tread:

Could all of this lead to an extensive series of “Bathrooms of the Appalachian League” blog posts? I can only hope! If anyone can assist with this endeavor, then you know where to find me — alone and in front of a computer:

On the Road: Going Back to the Basics in Burlington

Talk about a change of pace.

I spent Saturday evening within the High Definition confines of Durham Bulls Athletic Park, but an hour’s drive northwest the following day brought me here.

Welcome to Burlington Athletic Park, located in Burlington, NC and home of the Appalachian League’s Burlington Royals. (makes sense, right?) This is not to be confused with Burlington, IA’s Community Field, the home of the Midwest League’s Burlington Bees (both are no-frills baseball destinations, hence my recycling of a post title).

I had a chance to explore downtown Burlington the following afternoon (more on that in an upcoming post), but suffice to say that this stadium is NOT located in a downtown location.

But any deficiencies in the overall ambiance are made up for by the stadium’s affordability and intimacy.

This is the sort of place where 1000 people constitutes a good crowd, and on a rainy Sunday evening that number is bound to be far less.

Note the rooftop press box, made of corrugated tin

Strong winds and an overcast sky created a foreboding atmosphere, and the game was delayed approximately half an hour as everyone waited for a thunderstorm that (mercifully) never quite materialized.

Seeking refuge in the visitor’s clubhouse:

Some fans passed the time at the bar located down the third base line, including “Casual Fan” Tug Haines (in black) and Biz Blog reader/heckler/logo aficionado/Durham Bulls season ticket holder Scott Jennings (in blue). Tug’s spending the season traveling from ballpark to ballpark, and this was the second time this season we’ve crossed paths. Scott forwent the Bulls game and instead made the trek to Burlington because Tug and I were both there — a rare confluence of Minor League Baseball travelers.

The players, meanwhile, amused themselves with impromptu juggling and baseball hacky sack routines….

as well as by socializing in front of the home clubhouse.

This is the home clubhouse — a standalone building constructed in 1993 (the previous home clubhouse now hosts the visitors, and the previous visitors clubhouse is now used by the umpires). The marble columns give it an aura of Gilded Age opulence.

Once the tarp was removed, it became time to ascend (what I assume is) the steepest ramp in all of Minor League Baseball and find a seat.

My first vantage point was the bleacher seating behind the plate.

I sat there in order to best observe the choreographed chants of a loose affiliation of Burlington Boosters/opposing team hecklers (of which Jennings was a member).

I went into detail about the various routines in my piece, which includes a bounty of facts and observations from my two-day Appy League sojourn.  I’d like to reiterate, however, that THIS was the funniest routine (great work by the aforementioned Tug Haines in getting it on video).

As entertaining as this heckling conglomerate was, I soon departed in order to do what I seem to do best: wandering.

The B-Royals All-Time Team has some pretty big names:

The biggest of which are also immortalized in urinal form:

But if you’re a blogger such as myself, urinal lot of trouble if you don’t provide in-game pictures from multiple vantage points. So here you go:

Concession options were quite limited (hot dogs, pizza, pretzels, popcorn, etc). I went for the nachos, but that’s not the reason I’m posting this picture.

That sparkling carbonated beverage on the right is Cheerwine, a cultishly-adored cherry-flavored soda that is proudly brewed and bottled in North Carolina. I’ll have more on that particular beverage in future posts.

It was a pretty slow evening for the B-Royals, not surprising given that it was a rainy Sunday night. Business at the team store was minimal…

But a mini-stampede did form at the concession stand in the eighth inning, after a slew of $1 specials was announced over the PA.

But while the meteorological conditions were detrimental to business, it turned out to be a good evening for the B-Royals. Justin Trapp’s one-out single in the ninth inning scored Derek Hamblen, giving the home team a 4-3 walk-off win over the E-Twins.

Walking Off After the Walk-Off

The post-game “Run the Bases” was really funny,  consisting as it did of assistant general manager Ben Abzug and a whopping two kids. My pictures didn’t come out, but here’s the aftermath.

After the game I climbed up a ladder and onto the roof, in order to check out the view from the press box.

After the visiting Elizabethton Twins cleared out of the park, announcer Nick DeSanctis gave Tug and I a tour of the stadium’s insides.

To quote the title of my favorite AC/DC song – – “It’s A Long Way to the Top If You Want to Rock N Roll.”

Visitor's Locker Room

These less-than luxurious pictures are simply the reality of playing Rookie ball in a 50-year-old city-owned facility. All the Appy League players that I spoke with seemed to possess a “happy to be here” mentality, and I imagine they’ll look back on these days with a certain fondness — still in (or barely out of) their teens, away from home, and playing baseball for a living.

The home locker room is pretty swanky, at least by comparison.

Tug got a candid shot of me eying the post-game spread (hamburger steak, potatoes, macaroni and cheese).

Note the sign in the background: DO NOT ASSAULT UMPIRES. Good to know!

Hanging off the exercise bike was this “Princess Dreams” backpack.

The backpack is filled with essential items (gum, seeds, etc) prior to each game, and carried out to the bullpen by the last relief pitcher to have allowed a home run.

As of this photo, Tyler Graham had been the last pitcher to surrender a homer — a 380-foot shot against the Danville Braves.

And that was all she wrote for this particular evening — nothing left to to do but go back to the hotel and get a good night’s sleep. My room was pretty nice, but it couldn’t compare to this: