Thursday, April 28, 2011

Carolina Baseball

When the Durham Bulls are on the road for these really long trips, or when you are on the road and have a desperate need for a hot dog and a beer, we've got a bunch of places to pull off the highway and catch a ball game here in North Carolina. In fact, we've got eight professional ball teams, not counting the Bulls. For that matter, not counting the Charlotte Knights, who play in South Carolina.

These teams play in four different leagues: The Southern League (AA), the South Atlantic League (A), the Carolina League (A Advanced), and the Appalachian League (Rookie). All of the leagues are playing now except for the Appalachian League, which starts in June.

So, if you're heading west from the DBAP, 30 miles away are the Burlington Royals, an Appalachian League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. As mentioned, the Appalachian League doesn't start until June, however.

Just a little bit further west, 50 miles from the DBAP, are the South Atlantic League Greensboro Grasshoppers, a Florida Marlins affiliate.

And just past the Grasshoppers (80 miles from the DBAP) are the Carolina League Winston-Salem Dash, a Chicago White Sox affiliate.

But let's say that you've spent the day at the IKEA store near Charlotte and can't really face the drive back without one (or more) beers. There's the Kannapolis Intimidators, a White Sox South Atlantic League team just 120 miles away from the DBAP.

If you are heading up towards the mountains, there's the Hickory Crawdads, also in the South Atlantic League. They are a Texas Rangers affiliate and 150 miles away.

Then if you go even further west, every good Durham Bulls fan has to make a pilgrimage to McCormick Field in Asheville. Why? Because that's the field where Crash Davis hit his legendary home run immortalized in Bull Durham. Otherwise, McCormick Field is also the home to the Asheville Tourists, a Colorado Rockies affiliate. 230 miles from the DBAP.

But let's say you want to head east. Just down the road outside Zebulon are the Carolina Mudcats, a Cincinnati Reds Southern League team. 50 miles from the DBAP. This is the last year for a Southern League team to be in Five County Stadium, but we are assured a deal is in the works for a professional team to be there in 2012.

Further on down the road, in Kinston, are the Kinston Indians, a Carolina League Cleveland Indians affiliate. 105 miles from the DBAP.

There are, of course, all the college teams throughout the state. And then if you keep an eye on the Team USA Site you will hear about games at their training center in Cary (and on occasion the DBAP). Don't forget the Miracle League, as well.

A number of North Carolina cities have teams in the collegiate Coast Plains League. I know very little about the league as yet. Probably a good place to get a baseball fix if there's a team in your town.

Did I miss any professional teams?

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