Results tagged ‘ eternity ’

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:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Numbers, They Are A-Crooked

crooked.jpgMy sixth and final “Crooked Numbers” column went up on MiLB.com today, and I would implore you to check it out by clicking HERE.

For those who may not be familiar, “Crooked Numbers” is simply a monthly compendium of absurd and improbable Minor League facts. The column will now go on hiatus until 2010, so with that in mind I know present you with my “Crookedest Hits” from the season that was:

Thumbnail image for ghop.GIF

You Learn Something New Every Day: On April 23, the Greensboro
Grasshoppers defeated the Asheville Tourists, 8-7, in 14 innings. The
game was a wild affair on many levels — first baseman Bo Bowman
pitched the 14th for the Tourists and took the loss, for example — but
the most memorable aspect of the contest was that pitchers from both
teams filled in as pinch-umpires.

Below is an excerpt from the story written on the game:

This rare, but not unprecedented, occurrence was the result of a
scary event that took place in the sixth inning. Home plate umpire Koyu
Inoue was struck in the head by a foul ball and knocked unconscious,
and the ballgame was delayed for 47 minutes while he was attended to on
the field. Inoue was taken to a hospital for observation, but returned
to the ballpark later in the evening.

When play resumed, field umpire Jason Hutchings moved behind home
plate. Taking his place in the field were a pair of pitchers — Brandon
Todd of the Grasshoppers and Adam Jorgenson of the Tourists.

jewett.jpg

Synchronicity: Potomac Manager Trent Jewett notched his 1,000th career victory
and his 1,000th career loss on the same day. The veteran skipper
entered an April 30th doubleheader against Wilmington with a 999-999
career record. Potomac dropped the opener, handing Jewett loss No.
1,000. He moved his career record back to the .500 level when the
P-Nats pulled out a 6-0 victory in Game 2.

Cycling Slowly: The month of May featured two instances in which a
player hit for the cycle over a two-day period. On the 9th, Greg Jacobo of the
Cedar Rapids Kernels singled and doubled over two at-bats against the Quad
Cities River Bandits. The game was halted due to rain after an
inning-and-a-half of play and resumed the following afternoon. Jacobo then finished
what he started
the night before, homering in the fifth inning and
tripling in the seventh.

The next player to accomplish a multi-day
cycle
was Brandon Tripp of the Jupiter Hammerheads. The 25-year-old
tripled in his first at-bat against Lakeland on May 28, but the game was
suspended in the fourth. The following evening he returned to action and hit a
single in the fifth, a homer in the sixth and a double in the eighth.

storm.gif

One Game, 51 Runs: The California League is known as a hitter’s
haven, but June 28′s contest between the Lake Elsinore Storm and the High
Desert Mavericks took the circuit’s reputation for offense to stratospherically
absurd levels
. On this day, the Storm defeated the Mavericks, 33-18.

Of course, such a result made quite an impression on the Cal League record
book. A few of the marks that were established:

  • Most
    combined runs in a game (51)
  • Most hits,
    team (Lake Elsinore, 29)
  • Longest
    nine-inning game (4:10, marking the second time this year the Mavericks
    have played nine-inning game lasting longer than four hours)
  • Most
    at-bats, nine-inning game, player (nine, Lake Elsinore’s Bradley Chalk)
  • Most
    at-bats, nine-inning game, team (Lake Elsinore, 60)

And not to be overlooked is the fact that Lake Elsinore’s Mark Clark tied a
Cal League record by crossing the plate seven times.

In addition to their 29 hits, the Storm took advantage of 13 High Desert
walks and five errors. But the game’s worst pitching performance came courtesy
of Mavericks catcher Jose Yepez. The moonlighting backstop came on to pitch the
ninth and yielded four home runs, including blasts by the first three batters
he faced. This atrocious pitching line neutralized his stellar day at the
plate, as he homered and drove in four runs.

Not to be lost in the shuffle was the fact that High Desert’s James McOwen
hit safely in his 36th straight game — a new Cal League record. McOwen, Carlos
Peguero, Kuo Hui Lo and Yepez drove in four runs apiece for the Mavericks, and
the team still managed to lose by 15 runs (the most lopsided defeat of the
season).

Four For the Price of Three: An amazing report from Kannapolis Intimidators broadcaster Alex Gyr:

This may be a little late, but I wanted to let you know about our pitcher
Dexter

carter.jpg

Carter. Dexter, who leads the South Atlantic League in strikeouts,
struck out four batters in a row in the same inning twice in the month of May.

He first did it on May
10 in Lake County
in the fourth inning, when he struck out four
in a row thanks to a passed ball.

He did it again
on May 27
in the fifth inning at Hagerstown, when he used a
strikeout-wild pitch to strike out four batters in a row.

Striking out four batters in a row in the same inning is something that
has been done fewer than 20 times in the big leagues since 1900, and Dexter did
it twice in the same month!

mastro.jpg

Mastro, If You Please:
On July 25, Darin Mastroianni set a New Hampshire Fisher Cats franchise record
when he recorded four outfield assists in a game against the Portland Sea Dogs.
This is a rare feat, indeed. Consider that it has occurred just 11 times at the
Major League level, with the most recent such incident taking place in 1928.
Mastroianni threw out John Ottness at home plate in the first inning, gunned
down Jon Still at the plate in the second and sixth, and nailed Matt Sheely at
third base in the fifth. The Fisher Cats nonetheless
lost the game, 4-3
.

In Which the Magical Becomes Routine:
The Minor Leagues were awash in no-hitters in August, making that most
cherished of baseball experiences seem almost pedestrian. Eleven no-nos
occurred between Aug. 11 and Aug. 28, including two apiece on the 14th, 19th,
22nd and 28th. The Daytona Cubs contributed two during this time, and reliever Oswaldo
Martinez
was involved in both.

————————————————————————————————————

I did my best with “Crooked Numbers” this season, but am nonetheless painfully aware that there is much that I missed. Please get in touch at any time in order to share any “Crooked” tidbits of information that you may come across . I’ll post the best of these tidbits on this blog, thereby creating the illusion that there is still baseball going on as opposed to a gaping void that appears to stretch on for all eternity. 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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