Thursday, May 5, 2016

Beneath the Canopy of Creation

On this National Day of Prayer I reprise our Opening Day Invocation by the Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, Dean of Duke University Chapel. It's a memorable prayer, and I won't soon forget the circumstances. As Rev. Powery stepped onto the field it began to rain. We couldn't pause because the Invocation and the National Anthem were precisely timed with a vintage aircraft flyover. Standing in a downpour w/no baseball cap, the ink smearing on his paper, Rev. Powery offered this prayer to begin the Durham Bulls 2016 season:

Gracious God, fount of every blessing, as we stand under the canopy of your creation, we bask in the beauty of spring and newness of life. Our hearts are filled with joy as flowers bloom, leaves bud, grass grows green, and bright colors overflow the North Carolina land. The aroma of your presence fills this stadium tonight and what a joy it is to be alive and to be together in a spirit of community.

What a joy it is to experience another baseball season with the Durham Bulls. We thank you for the way this team draws people from all walks of life, from the east and west, north and south, Duke fans and Carolina fans, all in the same stadium cheering on their team. We thank you for those who make every season possible - the administration, staff, players, coaches, umpires, sponsors, volunteers, fans, and everyone who works tirelessly to make each game so special.

Let the play and delight of tonight brighten the world just a little bit, that we may not be so burdened down by sounds of the world’s sorrowful lamentations but rather filled with the echoes of eternal celebration, alongside our family, friends, and even strangers who are gathered here. As we cheer, clap, sing, dance, laugh, and eat, may we never forget those for whom no one is cheering. May we remember the least, the lost, and the left out and acknowledge that to whom much is given much is required. Just as these teams give their all with bats, baseballs, and gloves, help us to give our all to love of neighbor.

We receive this Opening Night as a gift from your gracious hand, knowing that sometimes we strike out in life, but one day we will round the bases of life’s journey and make it home safe at last as the great company of saints wave their hands in everlasting joy and praise. Amen.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Friday Night (DBAP) Lights

It's hard to believe we lost last night's game. I was having such a good time.

Before a sell-out crowd, Dayron Varona hit a homer into the Famous Snorting Bull. That is a rare poke for which he receives a steak dinner at the venerable Angus Barn. And phenom Blake Snell, back from his MLB debut at Yankee Stadium, was pitching. Game story.

The crowd roared as our Dancing Grounds Crew saluted Prince...and the soundtrack for a spectacular fireworks show featured his greatest hits. So yes, we lost to Louisville 4-2, but it was an outstanding night at the DBAP. The Bulls return to downtown Durham next Friday, vs. Norfolk at 7:05, as a seven game home stand commences.

If I may raise a point of personal privilege, we celebrated my Mom's 90th birthday at the ballpark last night. (My Dad hit 95 in March.) We enjoyed official birthday greetings from Wool E. Bull - a perfect evening for the young at heart!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tales of the Turf

We are only seven homes games into the 2016 season, but Goodmon Field is in for industrial strength lawn care this week.

Now that Duke calls the DBAP its home field, there have already been 40 "turf events" here dating back to mid-February scrimmages. No other pro baseball team in the US shares its field with a university team to this extent. It's a super efficient use of the stadium, but the wear and tear on the turf presents an agronomy challenge. You can't just throw out more fertilizer and cross your fingers. You need a rigorous turf management regimen.

While the Bulls are on the road, the infield is being completely replaced and the outfield has been aerified. The latter provides more oxygen to the Bermuda turf that begins to propagate in this warmer weather. Fans marvel at the lush green grass, but the real action is below ground. It's all about healthy roots!

For me, this is painful. It's like watching major surgery on a TV medical drama. I wince and look away as the turf docs put their scalpel to the infield.

The Bulls return from a ten day road trip on Sunday. We play Indianapolis at 5:05. The team is at home 4/24-29. Come out to the game and admire the handiwork of our grounds crew.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

On Duke's Tom Butters

A note about the passing of retired Duke Athletic Director Tom Butters...

Capitol Sports managed the Duke Radio Network in the 1990s. Looking back (and I should confess) we were in the vanguard of commercializing college sports 25 years ago. Butters mightily resisted! It's hard to wrap your mind around that today, but he could be passionate about it. He was a deep thinker, very articulate. He took me to the wood shed a couple of times over our marketing ideas. But you never felt too bad about losing an argument to him. It was like receiving an infusion of integrity!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Net Gain

Our expanded netting has been installed just in time for Opening Day, April 7th. The old backstop, behind home plate, was about 2400 square feet. The new net, extending to the end of each dugout, is almost 8500 square feet. I submit that fan protection is improved by 250%.

WRAL TV's Leyla Santiago was at the DBAP Thursday as the project was being finished. Watch her report.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

$2,000,000 Baseball Card

Did the title get your attention? Mission accomplished.

Baseball cards were invented over 100 years ago right here in Durham! sell tobacco! (The most heralded card, circa 1910, bears the likeness of Pittsburgh's Honus Wagner. It sold at auction for over two million dollars!)

This deserves some hometown attention. And the Museum of Durham History is mounting a unique baseball card exhibit here at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and in their own space at 500 West Main, timed for Opening Day 2016. Check out their website for details. 

Here at the DBAP, the Museum has created a display for our food court. That's taking history to the people!

A shout-out to Katie Spencer, Executive Director of the Museum of Durham History, and Board Member Renee Synderman for bringing us this idea...for putting a contemporary twist on century-old subject matter. We got caught up in their enthusiasm and provided a grant for the exhibition. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Under Construction (permanently!?!)

We can't seem to put an end to our 2014 ballpark renovation. Two seasons later, we're still bustin' out walls and fixin' up the venerable DBAP. 

This winter we're installing new, expanded backstop netting. We have enlarged and updated the 20 year old visitor's clubhouse. The Ballpark Corner Store is getting a makeover. A new marquee will soon appear on the entry plaza. And two batting cages are under construction for the May ACC Baseball Championships.

Last but not least, we are finishing a new clubhouse for Duke University Baseball. Duke has moved their baseball program off-campus and into the DBAP. We inked a seven-year contract with Duke Athletics last fall. Their coaches have new offices in the adjacent Diamond View II office building. The locker room is in the DBAP's right field corner. The Bulls welcome the Blue Devils!
Re-working the right field maintenance area
to accommodate the Duke clubhouse.

The Duke locker room - a work in progress.

Designer's rendering of the final product - clubhouse entrance.

Ballpark Corner Store.
New fixtures, even more caps!

More space for women's apparel.

Opening Day is April 7th. You can get a preview of the 2016 season this Friday and Saturday at our Delta Fan Fest. Details at