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On the Road: Visiting Dan Daniel in Danville

American Legion Post 325 Field at Dan Daniel Memorial Park might have an unwieldy name, but it’s a pretty unassuming place to watch a ballgame.

The city-owned facility is home to the Appy League’s Danville Braves, but as the name would imply it also hosts an array of local youth teams as well. And while the structure itself is modest, the area surrounding it is impressive. “Legion Field”, as it is commonly called, is located within the sprawling 170-acre confines of Dan Daniel Memorial Park.

The park is also home to a gleaming, thoughtfully-constructed Veteran’s Memorial, paying tribute to local war casualties from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan.

I had assumed going into the evening that the town of Danville was named after Dan Daniel, whoever he may be. But this assumption, like so many before it, turned out to be erroneous.

The town of Danville is named for the Dan River, which itself had been named by an 18th-century settler. Dan Daniel, meanwhile, was a longtime Democratic Congressman who died in office in 1989 at the age of 73.

As the plaque notes, Daniel’s “fiscal conservatism was exceeded only by his liberal love of family and nation.” And — look! — his real first name is “W.C.” They could have called the place “W.C. Fields.”

Back within the confines of the stadium, I did my usual round of player interviews and then took in the pre-game scene.

As game time approached, I was caught unawares by the announcement that “Santa Claus” would be throwing out the first pitch. I then did the best I could to document this rare offseason appearance. It wasn’t even “Christmas in July” night. He was just…there.

In the above shot, note that there are a lot of children hanging out in the home dugout. Most of them are the players, many of whom are still in their teens. The rest were there as part of a birthday party for the daughter of D-Braves GM David Cross (I’ll never be able to type that name without thinking of my college-era obsession with Mr. Show).

First pitches, as they often do, gave way to the National Anthem.

And wouldn’t you know it? After the National Anthem the game began.

I spent most of the evening watching from the third and first base bleachers, as the covered grandstand area was obscured by a net that stretched halfway down each base line.

But the view from the first row was nonetheless pretty good.

One key advantage of sitting in the grandstand was that the seats weren’t wet — as was often the case on this road trip, the weather was a bit on the precipitous side.

But why I am sitting here writing about sitting? It’s time’s to sit here and write about wandering. This mural is one of the first things one sees upon entering the park.

It’s very well done, but I liked this bit of ballpark artwork even better.

I can’t help but make a note of this prominent bit of misspelled signage.

Speaking of misspelled signage, I am continually amazed that this Chik-Fil-A advertising campaign was greenlit — desperate members of  a species targeted for mass slaughter trying to appease their carnivorous overlords by advocating for the mass slaughter of a different species.

Dystopian sci-fi hasn’t got a thing on Chik-Fil-A.

And on the topic of discriminate animal consumption — let’s check out the D-Braves concessions.

The team proudly serves Kunzler hot dogs. Is it just me, or are there subliminal images embedded within this logo?

But it’s my policy to always order the most unique thing on the menu — in this case the bologna burger. And this led to a problem — I had no money on me. Usually this is rectified by a quick trip to the ATM, but in this case it was rectified by a not-so quick trip to the ATM.

20 minutes, several wrong turns and two out-of-order ATM machines later, I finally found a working cash dispensary and then hightailed it back to the park. The lesson here is that while the Appy League may be cheap, always bring enough cash for all your ticketing/concession/”souvenier”/50-50 raffle needs.

Finally, it was time for the bologna burger.

It’s topped with onions, peppers, and mustard, a combination recommended by the guy working the grill (“That’s how they make ‘em down at the racetrack,” he told me).

It tasted fine, but suffered in comparison to my closest reference point: the pork roll sandwich. (This is a New Jersey specialty, and now that’s it on my mind I’ll go on the record and say that a pork roll sandwich with Chickie and Pete’s Crab Fries and a Yuengling is my favorite concession combination in the Minors. Here’s to you, Trenton Thunder.)

But in this particular narrative I’m in Danville and still hungry. While the nachos were standard issue, I appreciated the fact that they were served like this (with a bag of tortilla chips on the side).

It might look sloppy, but layering the bottom of the tray rectifies the all-too-common problem of not enough cheese (writes a single 32-year-old man blogging about nachos on a Friday evening).

But these are nacho problems, they’re mine. So let’s return to the ballgame.

The between-inning activities were fairly minimal, as one would expect. There was a Pony Hop Race (those things are everywhere these days) and a dizzy bat race among other things, but for the most part it was little more than a PA announcement related to sponsorship or an ongoing game program bingo contest. At one point “The Chicken Dance” was played, with no accompanying announcement that it was the Chicken Dance or that people should, in fact, dance. I appreciated this.

Blooper the mascot made the rounds throughout the evening, but my attempts to take an interesting picture of him continually proved fruitless.

But this shot of the Danville sunset turned out pretty well, I think.

Also turning out well was the game itself, with the D-Braves coasting to a 7-3 victory over Pulaski.

There is ample opportunity to interact with coaches and players outside of the home clubhouse after the game.

But what excited me the most was that I finally got a nice shot of Blooper.

I’m going to add this one to my ever-growing “Introspective Mascot” file folder. If you’ve got some of your own to send along, you know where to find me.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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