Thursday, May 28, 2009

Batting Practice & the Nine Inning Vacation

While the Bulls are ensconced in downtown Durham, we consider ourselves to be “the Triangle’s Team” given our regional fan base. We’ve been selling over a half million tickets each season and the team’s economic impact on the wider community is pegged at $22million annually per the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau. 50% of our patrons hail from neighboring Wake County - thank you very much - and to that end we were honored to host the Greater Raleigh Sports Council for lunch and a private batting practice earlier this month.

This is Scott Dupree at home plate indulging his childhood dream of playing in the Majors. Like so many of us Scott ended up, not on the field, but in the business of sports. He’s VP of Sports Marketing for the Greater Raleigh CVB. Still, his form is pretty impressive. I’m thinking he spent some time in the batting cage (or in front of the mirror?) before coming over for BP.

Thanks to Durham Bulls GM Mike Birling for throwing BP to our guests. We lost track of his pitch count - something well over 200 – and he didn’t need to ice his shoulder afterwards. He’s a front office warrior!

The Greater Raleigh Sports Council will return to the DBAP en masse on June 2nd for a Family Night Out with the Bulls. Click here for info.

We’re beginning a home stand on 5/29 against Buffalo. With the Memorial Day holiday behind us, I consider this to be the beginning of summer…so join us in Durham for the National Pastime. Take a nine inning vacation. Click here for tickets. You won’t regret it!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

A Navy family's Memorial Day prayer, the Howards, from CT magazine:

Please join us in our prayers for the men and women of the Armed Forces of The United States of America and other countries who are now in harm's way in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other parts of the world. We thank them and their families for their sacrifices.

We are grateful for the ultimate price of freedom paid by those fallen. We pray for strength and courage for the POWs and MIAs and those held hostage.

We pray for the protection and safety of selfless relief workers and missionaries who help those in need.

We pray for the protection of children and innocent civilians. 

We pray for our nation and our leaders.

These are some of my favorite photos from the Iwo Jima Reunion that we hosted in 2007 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. (Brian Flemming gets credit for the pix.) The Diamond View II office building was under construction then...a very expensive but admirable flagpole.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bull City Hosts ACC Baseball

We have given the DBAP keys to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC has taken over the ballpark for its annual five-day baseball tournament.

The event has a different feel from our typical MiLB game. Visitors this week hail from Boston to Miami and all the ACC universities in between.

The 2009 tourney was supposed to be in Boston’s Fenway Park, but a scheduling snag developed. The Durham Bulls were on the road, so we volunteered the DBAP.

We do 70+ games per season and game day is pretty routine for us. Not so for the ACC staff. They are meticulous in their planning and attention to detail. Very impressive.

Here’s a detail we missed: On Tuesday we held a luncheon for over three hundred - primarily the visiting teams. Beef and chicken were on the buffet. We grilled 600 chicken breasts. They were gone in thirty minutes. Our “training table” was bare. We have a new appreciation for the eating habits of college athletes!

The exposure for Durham is great, too. All thirteen games are broadcast on FoxSports, Comcast and the New England Sports Network. ACC TV's affable Mike Hogewood - the man for all college sports - is in the booth:

This is a fantastic event with one exception - the aluminum bats. I'm old school. That metallic ping sounds so unnatural as it reverberates off the brick and steel beams in the DBAP. It sounds like a driving range. Still, I must admit Miami has some sharp looking orange bats!

Big Dogs at VIP picnic - atop Bulls' Blue Monster - left to right: Ron Wellman, Wake Forest; Kevin White, Duke; Jeff Elliot, ACC; Tallman Trask, Duke; Jim Goodmon, Capitol Broadcasting Co; John Swofford, ACC; Frank Jernigan, NC Dept of Commerce; Hill Carrow, Triangle Sports Commission; George Habel, Durham Bulls

Join us this weekend for championship ACC baseball. CLICK FOR TIX.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Dinger

It wasn't a home run, but I got dinged big-time! A foul ball soared out of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park Wednesday night and landed on my windshield. I was parked on Blackwell Street which runs parallel to the third base line. A shattering experience. 

Thanks to Safelite for making a house call at the DBAP. It's amazing that the replacement job only takes thirty minutes.

I hope foul balls are like lightening and don't strike the same spot twice. Should I wear a batting helmet to work?

Speaking of dingers - the genuine article - the Bulls' Chris Richard had TWO GRAND SLAMS in Friday night's game against Louisville. 

CLICK HERE. It's a must video! (

Monday, May 11, 2009


I’m told these enormous bulls dot the Spanish landscape. They began as advertisements for Osborne sherry. Over fifty years later they are considered public art in Spain.

My daughter Melissa sent me this photo. It was snapped by her co-worker, Jessica Bates, on a recent trip to Spain. I'm jealous, but hope to investigate further! A trip to Spain, that is. A glass of sherry won't get the job done.

The story as told at

The Osborne sherry company...originally placed the bulls on roadside bends to catch drivers' attention. They used to bear the company logo and the name of its Veterano brandy, but the words were removed in 1988 after it was ruled that they were distracting drivers. By then the silhouettes were so famous that the company decided drivers would need no reminding of what the bulls were promoting.

In the mid-90s a new law banned the siting of structures too close to roads, so Osborne moved its bulls to hillsides overlooking the motorways. But they still faced legal challenges. By then, though, the public had so grown to love the bulls that even the supreme court could not sanction their removal. In 1997 judges ruled that the bulls had "become part of the landscape."

(More from Wilkipedia)

Wouldn’t these look great atop distant hills in Durham County along I-40, I-85 and the Durham Freeway!?! Billboards for the Durham Bulls...or public art?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Colin Firth Visits DBAP

British actor Colin Firth (Bridget Jones Diary, Love Actually, Mama Mia) is in Durham filming the movie "Main Street" [click here for more info from]

We invited him to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, but he politely declined...didn't receive any baseball training in the UK. Still, Colin was interested in our National Pastime and joined us for the Durham Bulls/Columbus Clippers game on May 3rd.

We presented him with a Bulls' jersey. FIRTH is on the nameplate and 09 is his number. If he's inclined to wear it in London, maybe we will see a spike in our internet apparel sales from the UK?

...and you can click here for more "Main Street" location pix from a Colin Firth fan site.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Dispatch from the Trop

Dateline: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida.   I finagled an invitation to the Rays' series with Boston. For Rays affiliates this is like having a relative in Florida with a house on the beach. You’re inclined to invite yourself down for a visit.

After an 8-14 start, their worst since ’04, the Thursday headlines were “Rays need to find spark” and "Maddon faces greatest leadership test.”

It’s an entirely different story Friday morning after the Ray’s totally spanked Boston 13-0. Matt Garza pitched a one-hitter with ten strike-outs, and the Rays’ bats came to life. Today's headlines: “Near perfect” and “Have a little more faith.” 

And there was icing on the cake for the Durham Bulls. On the shuttle back to the hotel I overheard a dejected Boston fan observe that the Rays have the best farm system in MLB. A wise Red Sox fan, indeed!