Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Triple A Team of the Year

I had put my blog to bed for the holidays - but was awakened from my long winter's nap - by unexpected recognition for our club.

As the year winds down, mlb.com is doling out awards for the major and minor leagues. The web site has cleverly named the minor league (MiLB) awards the MiLBYs, and the Bulls received two of them this week:

Best Triple A Team - The Bulls' September Triple A championship...caps a 12-year stretch since Durham moved from the Advanced A Carolina League to Triple-A status, a period during which they've enjoyed nine playoff appearances, eight division titles, seven spots in the league finals, three IL championships and one national title (and a partridge in a pear tree).

Best Single Game Performance - Chris Richard hit two grand slams in one game back in May: It's an unbelievable feeling," Richard said. "You're just excited. It's a lot of joy. It's just a great time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Your blogger is excited about Christmas!
Best Wishes for the Holidays and 2010.

Blogging resumes January 4th.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Farewell to Jan Sharp

It’s a bittersweet week. The joy of Christmas is upon us, but we grieve for our coworker Jan Sharp, Capitol’s VP of Human Resources. Jan passed away Saturday after the ordeal of cancer.

Jan was with CBC for twelve years, yet her service could have totaled twice that number. She was passionate about our corporate culture; a “best practices” leader who wanted CBC to be the very best employer in our community.

Manager or employee, you felt that Jan had your back. She was our corporate confidant and consigliere…a great listener…eminently fair. (Jan had an HR director’s fondness for rules and policy. I've never quite measured up in that category!)

Energetic and enthusiastic about everything, Jan was dedicated to Capitol, the Wolfpack, community, church and her family - husband Ed and sons Chas and Hunter. She juggled it all with her Blackberry. It seemed that she was available 24/7.

It’s beyond poignant that Jan passed on the day of our company’s holiday party. I’ve been pondering that, and I can only assume that she favored a festive legacy. Camaraderie and dancing at NC State’s alumni center. It does seem fitting.

~ ~ ~ ~

In that vein, this is my favorite photo with Jan - from December 2002. We were temporarily trapped in an elevator after a luncheon at the Capital City Club. It appears that we were having fun!?! Ah, the good times.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Semper Fi & Adeste Fideles

It's snowing...sleeting...raining as I write this. Bona fide winter weather in NC. It gets you in the Christmas spirit.

...but our staff at Wolfpack Sports Marketing and 99.9 The Fan/620 The Buzz has been playing Santa for several weeks...working with the US Marines and their Toys for Tots program. We've helped to raise $65,000. And that cash will be transformed into Christmas gifts for kids next week.

Check out these stories from gopack.com:

Pix from the O'Brien dinner at Rey's Restaurant in Cary on 12/10:

That's Rey with the mic.

Coach O'Brien. He's on the national Toys for Tots board.

MC and radio Voice of the Wolfpack Gary Hahn.

It's not too late to join the cause.
Send in the Marines!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ample Leg Room

What’s wrong with this picture?

Yes, our seats are missing! A major waterproofing/fireproofing project is underway at the ballpark during the off-season, and the seats have been removed…about six thousand of them at this point. The DBAP looks naked.

Why? All of the joints have to be re-caulked and a sealant will be applied to the concrete. It’s a high-tech membrane that will keep water out of our offices and concession stands beneath the seating bowl.

After 15 seasons (the DBAP opened in 1995) it’s a bit leaky “down under” and a few front office employees have developed a mildew problem. It’s interfering with their social lives!

~ ~ ~ ~

Ticket patrons can pick their seats for 2010…and even take them home for the winter. (…just kidding.)

...and we now have seating on the concourse. I question this marketing strategy.

...hope this project is finished on schedule, or you may be asked to bring a lawn chair to Opening Day. (...just kidding.)

Photo credit: Molly Boyce

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Weekly Round-up

We're off to the Baseball Winter Meetings in Indy. Ginormous trade show...league business meetings...seminars. The Tampa Bay Rays host a reception for all of their Minor League affiliates, and the MLB honchos gather for trades and transactions. The latter adds considerable drama to the annual off-season convention. We don't participate in those decisions. That's the province of the Major League club, but we do get to rub elbows with the big dawgs.

Baseball America, our industry bible, announces a slew of recognitions and awards in its Winter Meetings issue. The Bulls are basking in BA glow...

1 - Rangers
2 - Rays
3 - Giants
4 - Phillies
5 - Indians

~ ~ ~ ~

On the home front, the Bulls' staff spent Friday afternoon working on a Habitat home near the ballpark. Our team has helped Durham Habitat raise over $75K this year...and our front office volunteers helped to raise a house. I won't make any snide comments about their construction skills because their hearts are in the right place. Plus, they were closely supervised, and no one was taken to the ER.

Our Habitat Home (about 50% of it)

Sales staff at work: Chris Overby, Mike Miller, Ryan Tuttle, Ashley Giovenco

Bulls PR chief Matt DeMargel and GM Mike Birling

Head Groundskeeper Scott Strickland

Molly Boyce of sponsorship services

~ ~ ~ ~
...and finally:

I attended Phantom of the Opera Thursday night at the Durham Performing Arts Center. I've seen Phantom several times, and this national tour is undoubtedly the best. The production is opulent! DPAC GM Bob Klaus tells me it took 22 tractor trailers to deliver the sets, costumes and associated gear. The lead performances and music soar! The special effects are impressive. The theater acoustics are superb. Phantom runs through December 20th. You gotta see it!

The Durham Bulls are a proud sponsor of the DPAC's Broadway Series.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More on ALS...

Indulge me, please, for another post on ALS. My last blog on the subject was about our NC chapter's golf tournament. This is more serious, and I ask that you invest five to ten minutes with the content I'm posting.

Incidence of ALS among soldiers. This horrible disease has a historical connection with baseball heroes Lou Gehrig and Catfish Hunter, but an alarming link has developed with the military.

WRAL TV ran this story yesterday. CLICK HERE to view the video. TV5 anchor Debra Morgan provides and informative and moving story.

...and I commend this column to you. Tom Swift of Hendersonville writes for the Asheville Citizen-Times. He is losing his ability to speak, but not his eloquence:

Every three months I go to a clinic in Charlotte that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of ALS. "Treatment" is an optimistic word, for there is no treatment or cure for ALS at present, only the management of symptoms. At each clinic I take a breathing test to measure my lung functioning. I breathe as long and as hard as I can into a tube that measures me against a standard based upon my age, weight, gender, and so forth. The first couple of times I took the test I exceeded the standard and scored over one hundred percent. During the last two years, my lung function capacity has gradually declined to seventy-six percent. While this is no reason for immediate alarm, it is objective evidence that the disease is robbing me of my health. It is evidence that ALS will eventually kill me.

...and I commend the Jim "Catfish" Hunter ALS Assn to you for a special Holiday Season gift. Capitol Broadcasting Co., the Durham Bulls and Wolfpack Sports Marketing are big supporters. Join the team!

Thanks, gh

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Duke at the DBAP

Duke will be moving its ACC baseball games off-campus and into the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in 2010. While the pros are in Spring Training, we'll have college ball in the DBAP!

This adds more baseball to the entertainment mix in the American Tobacco Historic District, and it should entice more Duke students to downtown Durham...
where the University already has a significant presence.

Read the story at wralsportsfan.com - click here. And check out the video clips as the key players tell the story:

Capitol Broadcasting Co. & Bulls President/CEO Jim Goodmon. Jim attended Duke. It just dawned on me...maybe there's a connection???

Duke Head Baseball Coach Sean McNally. Sean's a Duke grad and played Minor League ball at the DBAP.

Duke President Richard Broadhead. We're making him our honorary historian!

College baseball at the DBAP is not new to us. For the past three years we've hosted NC Central's new baseball team. The sport was added as the Eagles move up to Division I. NCCU is relocating to its permanent home, the refurbished Durham Athletic Park, a project that went into overtime. We've enjoyed working with Central's baseball coach, Dr. Henry White and Associate AD George "Bulldog" Smith. I envy his nickname!

(My only reservation about the college game in our ballpark is those #$@! aluminum bats...or is it kryptonite? That metallic ping reverberates off the steel beams and brick walls; it's like fingernails on a blackboard. Sorry, I'm old school. It just ain't right.)

Durham is known as the City of Medicine, but it has become the City of Baseball as well. The Bulls, Duke, NCCU and USA Baseball will play in downtown Durham during 2010. You can't have too much of a good thing.

PS - I want to recognize Bulls' GM Mike Birling and Duke's Sr. Assoc. AD Boo Corrigan. They're the guys who hammered out this partnership along with our Head Groundskeeper Scott Strickland. Scott has to get the field ready for play in February and nurture our turf into the spring and summer. It's a tall order.

From left: Birling, Corrigan, Strickland

Friday, November 13, 2009

Catfish Classic - Golfing for ALS

I attempted golf for a couple of years. It was a pathetic, arthritic undertaking. Still, I admire the game and golf courses in particular. It’s American feng shui.

Maybe my motivation was questionable. I regularly dispatched co-workers to charity golf tournaments while I remained in the office. I was jealous.

And we owned the Minor League Baseball team in Myrtle Beach. Our ballpark staff spent more time on the links than they did on the diamond! They insisted that it was work?!? I was jealous.

Yet another example: One Monday last month I was the only person in the office. Our ENTIRE staff was at the Catfish Classic…playing or volunteering in the annual event for ALS. I’m not complaining, though. The Durham Bulls sponsor the Classic at the gorgeous TPC Wakefield Plantation, and I'm on the board of the Jim Catfish Hunter chapter of the ALS Assn.

Our good friend, Wes Hare, is one of the tournament’s organizers:

The 2009 Catfish Classic was a huge success - even in a down economy. The event raised $60,000, bringing the total to $300,000 in our 5-year history. We had a cool start to the day, but wonderful weather overall. We listened to a patient who is in the early diagnosis stage of the disease, had a presentation on what it is like to be a care-giver for patients with ALS, and listened to Dr. Richard Bedlack from the ALS Clinc at Duke on progress made in diagnosis and treatment of ALS.

Wes works for Theo Davis printing (when he’s not working for ALS.) THANK YOU, Wes...for your dedication and enthusiasm!!!

Bulls' foursome: (from left) Head Groundskeeper Scott Strickland, GM Mike Birling, Rob Stover of Tyler’s Taproom and Mike Miller, Bulls' sales staff

Balloon photo: 420 golf balls are dropped from a hot air balloon gondola. The ball drop raised $4,200

Friday, November 6, 2009

DPAC Packs the House

Good news in the hood:

Our next-door-neighbor, the $44 mil Durham Performing Arts Center, had a stout first year…finishing well in the black…and with profit to share with the City of Durham.

High fives to Nederlander-PFM that manages the theater and GM Bob Klaus.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell: That's truly great news for Durham, especially in light of today's economy...our first season has been undeniably successful. Read today’s story in the Durham Herald-Sun.

The Bulls are proud to sponsor Phantom, November 26th - December 20th, as the 2009-2010 SunTrust Broadway Series begins. The DPAC schedule features Wicked next spring. The anticipation and hype is on par with Duke Hoops!

Broadway and baseball. Side-by-side in the American Tobacco Historic District.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Sea of Soggy Cyclists

Halloween was gray and wet, but Durham's sixth annual Halloween Bike Ride for Habitat was a ray of sunshine. (These pix are from Blackwell Street in front of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park where the event began.) The Bulls have sponsored the July Bull Moon evening ride and the Halloween trek raising over $75,000 for Habitat this year!!!

I want to thank former Bulls' GM Peter Anlyan and our Promotions Director Matt DeMargel. They have championed (and helped to organize and promote) these cycling events. Peter and Matt have combined their personal passion for cycling with support for Habitat for Humanity in Durham. We've helped to raise enough for a new home, and I believe the October ride is now the Triangle's biggest cycling event.

From the Durham Habitat news release...

The goal of the 2009 Habitat Bike Rides, including the July Bull Moon Ride and the October Halloween Bike Ride, is to raise the $50,000 Habitat home sponsorship for the Billious family home. Lakenya Billious is the 33 year-old mother of a 13 year-old daughter. Lakenya's mother and nephew also live with her. Lakenya works as a child nutrition assistant with the Durham Public Schools and as a parking attendant with the City of Durham. The Billious family is thrilled to have their home sponsored by the rides and to make their dream of homeownership come true.

With the Triangle area having the highest per-capita income in North Carolina, it is rated one of the most expensive rental markets in the state. As a result, Durham has the region’s lowest home ownership rate. Habitat believes decent housing is a matter of conscience and action. By raising money with the help of volunteers and donations, Habitat allows families to build equity and break the cycle of poverty for future generations. By riding, bicyclists help make the dream of home ownership a reality for a family in Durham!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Philly can be Foul

Watching the World Series last night I had a horrific flashback triggered by the hour and twenty minute rain delay. (Click here for the game story.) I put aside my Bud Light for hot cocoa.

It was one year ago at Citizens Bank Park - when our Tampa Bay Rays were in the Series vs. Philadelphia - that we found ourselves in a monsoon.

We came up out of the subway into a wind-driven, torrential downpour. Totally soaked. Water was sloshing out of my shoes. What happened to the limo ride and the luxury suite?

Still, it's a good memory...an "outward bound" experience for baseball fans. And I find some consolation as I contemplate thousands upon thousands of soggy Philly and Yankee fans!?!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Taking a break from baseball...at Hoops HQ

We’re in the middle of football season…the World Series is underway…but I have to admit we live in College Hoops Town USA. Hence, this basketball post:

We were among the sponsors of a very special event Thursday – The Triangle Tip-off Luncheon. Duke’s Coach K, UNC’s Roy Williams, NC State’s Sidney Lowe and Lavelle Moton (the new hoops coach at NCCU) shared the dais. This gathering of basketball luminaries was worthy of an ESPN special, and TV5’s Jeff Gravley asked some very thoughtful questions. It was not an X’s & O’s discussion; it was more about hoops philosophy, values and "what's on your iPod?"

Kudos to Hill Carrow and the Triangle Sports Commission for organizing this wonderful event. The confluence of ACC and Division 1 hoops in our community is unique. (NCCU is moving up to D-1.) The universities, their teams, the legendary coaches, the rivalries – it’s a significant feature of our lifestyle in the Triangle. I herein implore the coaches to make it an annual affair!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our Championship Fans

A few days earlier on this blog I was lamenting the bittersweet nature of winning the Triple A trophy. That is, the players immediately head for home - only two of the guys live in Durham - so we forfeit a parade or bonfire. (There is an upside: no hangovers, no arrests.)

Yet our fans were determined to savor the accomplishment. I would have been delighted if a couple hundred folks showed up for the Wednesday event...but we were pleasantly surprised. Very gratifying! THANK YOU, BULLS FANS!

Several worthwhile links...

- The Bull City Rising blog did a great job chronicling the festivities. Click here to check it out.
- Visit our Facebook page for more.
- Relive the celebration and closing moments of the Triple A Championship game on ESPN. Click here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

118 years at-a-glance

Here's a pictorial history of our neighborhood on Blackwell Street in downtown Durham.

First comes a map from 1891, pre-ballpark, obviously...from Duke University's Digital Durham collection. (I highly recommend that you check it out. Click here to explore further.)

Next, the hood - the tobacco biz and downtown were thriving - circa 1950:

And finally, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, 2009:

Thanks to the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau for the '50 photo and their latest aerial shot. Visit the DCVB's image library for more.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall Lawn Care

It's raining today. Temperature in the 40's.

We need a classic autumn photo (from last week) to raise our spirits...

Join us in the clubhouse (and on the field) October 21st for a celebration of the Bulls' National Championship. Read more about it/click here.

I have to admit that winning the Minor League title is anticlimactic. The game was played in Oklahoma City, and the players - only two of them live in the Triangle - immediately headed for home. No bonfire. No parade.

...so the October 21st event is an opportunity to show off the trophy and to THANK OUR FANS.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Help for the Homeless

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park hosted Project Homeless Connect on October 8th. It might strike you as odd that we hold an event for homeless people in the ballpark, but the organizers attempt to create a festive atmosphere to draw folks in…to eliminate the stigma that goes with homelessness.

And they aggregate about twenty service providers (medical, mental health, housing, benefits, employment, etc.) so it’s one-stop shopping.

Another important feature: there are about as many volunteers as there are clients…lot’s of one-on-one attention vs. standing in long lines. A very worthwhile event!

We were glad to host the event and feed everyone...went through 260 pounds on chicken in a couple of hours! Thanks to our CenterPlate food service manager Tammy Scott, the Interfaith Food Shuttle, Dillard's Barbecue and Durham Rescue Mission for helping to pull the gigantic buffet together.

Note the festive atmosphere...thanks to the Durham Divas.

About 300 people registered for services, and there were approximately 300 volunteers.

A client account from the Raleigh News & Observer: A veteran seeking permanent housing and help with his benefits had just finished a "slamming" piece of chocolate cake and said he was leaving with something he didn't come with. "A lot of hope."

Smiling faces at the Durham Housing Authority booth.

A volunteer quoted in the Durham Herald-Sun: "It just lets me know how privileged I really am. I have a house to sleep in every night. I have food on my table. I have transportation. I have a job to go to, and these people don't have any of that."

That certainly sums it up for me.