Sunday, June 26, 2016

Road to Rio

Competition concluded this weekend for the Powerade State Games of NC. Our home grown Olympic-style sports festival may not be a global spectacle like the Rio games in August, but this is where Olympic dreams take shape!

A total of 12,000 participants (770 teams) converged on the Triangle each weekend in June to compete in over 25 sports from swimming to BMX, from skateboarding to fencing. 

Capitol Broadcasting Co. was a sponsor, a commitment with deep roots. In 1986, we helped to found the first State Games of NC and Durham-based NC Amateur Sports. This year, Wool E. Bull was honored to light the Opening Ceremonies cauldron at the WRAL Soccer Center. Adam Gold of 99.9 The Fan was master of ceremonies.

In Durham, we hosted Disc Golf, Pickleball and Tack & Field. There were about 6400 participants and spectators at the Bull City venues.

Disc Golf aficionados designed a unique course at American Tobacco for about 90 participants who targeted parking garage decks, the Famous Bull and home plate at the DBAP. About 500 spectators followed the disc golfers around the campus.

Duke's Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center had never hosted a Pickleball competition before. There were 186 players.

Track & Field, Durham County Stadium. This year's competition had a Rio hallo. Manteo Mitchell, an Olympian from Shelby NC participated, prepping for his Olympic trials.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Of Zombies & Zealots

My friend DJ Mitsch has written a new book Zombies to Zealots, Reawaken the Human Spirit at Work! From the introduction:

The world's largest and most successfully traded companies are full of disengaged, cynical members who leave weekly meetings to mindlessly follow orders out of fear of consequences...

But the book isn't a screed. DJ's purpose: Call your spirit back into the work you do.

And that brings me to my colleagues at the Durham Bulls Baseball Club. Not a zombie to be found. Every last one a zealot!

Last Thursday we finished a mash-up of multiple Bulls home stands, Duke baseball games at the DBAP and the 15-game ACC Baseball Championship. That was a total of 39 games in 35 days. And I didn't bother to count the additional meetings and events hosted in the PNC Triangle Club. Our front office staff, operations department, grounds crew and F&B staff have been sorely tested. They have prevailed!

It's a privilege to work with this crew. They bring their spirit to work. (And thankfully, we don't have another game until June 20th.)

The ACC Baseball Championship Game on May 29th - emblematic of the 6th rainiest May in the Triangle since 1945. After eight hours and twenty minutes, including three rain delays, Clemson beat Florida State 18-13. The next day, Memorial Day, the Bulls began a seven-day home stand.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Citizen Clement

Howard Clement is remembered as a champion of civil rights and civic life. 

[June 6th Durham City Council Resolution | story]

I remember the City Councilman who loved baseball, who brought his grandson to Bulls games.

At Capitol Broadcasting Co. we remember "unfiltered" Howard. He seriously took our company to the woodshed in the late 1980s when we proposed a new ballpark near the airport. Amidst that major problem, he became part of the solution, and the Durham Bulls Athletic Park came to be.

CBC's Corporate Counsel in those days, Mike Hill, remembers Howard's admonishment "the ballpark has to be for all of Durham." So, Mike made sure local favorite Dillard's Barbecue was served at the new ball yard, and in the community, we kickstarted the Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League..."for all of Durham."

After the DBAP came the redevelopment of American Tobacco, and Howard helped to galvanize City and County support for the project that revived downtown Durham.

Then, I remember the Q&A at our annual First Pitch luncheon ten years ago in Bay 7 at American Tobacco. We had planted a few softball questions in the audience for the panel discussion. Howard stands up, veering off-script, and asks a Rays exec what the team was doing to develop African American players. A little awkward. And unfiltered. But authentic.

Howard Clement III (1934-2016) A man of many interests, dedicated to many causes and organizations. A true public servant. A baseball fan. We miss him at the DBAP.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Kids & Baseball | Rekindling the Flame

The ACC Baseball Championship is drawing fans from Boston to Miami this week, but our Local Organizing Committee has placed a priority on connecting Triangle kids with this major college baseball event.

Thursday morning over 325 students will attend ACC Education Day. It's a "best field trip ever" that ties science and history lessons to the National Pastime. And the kids get to watch UVA, last year's NCAA champ, take on Clemson in the 11am game. 

For three afternoons this week we're entertaining about 250 youth in the Full Frame Theater on the American Tobacco Campus. Thanks to WUNC TV they will be viewing an abridged version of Ken Burns' new documentary on Jackie Robinson. Afterwards, they trek over to the DBAP for a snack and the afternoon ACC tournament game. That's my kind of after-school program!

On Friday in the Alumni Village at American Tobacco there's a youth sports clinic and Saturday is Little League Baseball Day.

Meanwhile, fifteen teams (10u, 11u, 12u) are competing in our 2nd annual Triangle Youth Classic at the Walnut Creek complex in Raleigh. NC Development Baseball runs that tournament for us. The teams will come over to Durham Saturday night for the UVA-Louisville game.

Much is written about the decline in baseball fandom among young people. There's no denying it, but here in Durham, we are trying hard to rekindle the flame. The ACC Baseball Championship is a great platform for that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Atomic Crispy Chicken & the Bull City Float

We have packed so much into this upcoming home stand, you'll need a moving van to haul away the memories.

There's a Hall of Fame induction Thursday for the Bulls winningest manager, Charlie Montoyo. Fireworks follow the Friday and Saturday games. The team debuts their Bull City Blues uniforms Saturday. That game is followed by an out-of-the-park hitting exhibition from the amazing Long Haul Bombers. And Sunday is reserved for mascot mania as we celebrate Wool E. Bulls' birthday with dozens of his peers from teams around the region. Click here for more details.

And I offer a culinary heads-up from Bull City Hospitality...

We'll be fryin' up a mess of Atomic Crispy Chicken - chicken breasts marinated in a spicy secret sauce. Just ask for "The ACC" we prepare to host the ACC Baseball Championship next Tuesday.

Dial back that nuclear intensity with a Bull City Float - an orange and blue concoction, owing to Blue Bunny sherbet awash in Fierce Grape Gatorade, served in a Mason jar. I was in on the taste testing this afternoon. It's a hit!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

What Matters

Amidst all of our region's successes, poverty and inequality threaten our shared fate.
Triangle Community Foundation

Dr. Tony Iton, physician/lawyer at The California 
Endowment, speaks to the Triangle Community
Foundation on April 27th.
My last post was faith-related. Living evermore dangerously, I venture into public policy/politics...

I was once a disciple of "trickle-down economics" and "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" self-determination. In recent years I've had an attitude adjustment. 

There's still some truth in trickle-down, but in a global economy the trickling (job creation) may occur in China or Sri Lanka, not necessarily in NC. Money invested on Wall Street might become profit for a company that has off-shored, not supporting our tax base at home. 

And personal bootstrapping has little motivational luster in places of high poverty. Weak schools, poor job prospects, high crime and health deficits conspire against upward economic mobility.

I received a refresher course on this a couple of weeks ago at the Triangle Community Foundation's What Matters event. We heard about a California initiative - an attack on poverty and inequality - through the lens of public health. Please invest five minutes watching this video. And it's narrated by George Takei, Mr. Sulu from Star Trek!


Congratulations to our CEO and his wife. Jim and Barbara Goodmon received the Catalyst Award from TCF for their support of the foundation, their emphasis on regionalism and their philanthropic work.

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.