Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just Another Night at the DBAP. NOT!

Better than 8,500 attended the Dylan-Nelson-Mellencamp concert Tuesday night. Thankfully, we dodged the storms that hit Raleigh, Cary, Apex, etc...and it turned out to me a magical night for Boomer Nation. I'm too uptight to dance, but it's uplifting to see 50-somethings let loose!

It must be bittersweet for artists on these nostalgia tours. The fans are longing to relive their glory days, but the performer - not stuck in time - might have something new to share. Mellencamp asked the audience if they wanted to hear his old songs or new music. The answer was overwhelmingly in favor of the old stuff. It seems like the music of our youth is burned into our memories and hearts. It must have something to do with a mysterious interaction of hormones, beer and romance!?!

Photos: Mellencamp (Brian Flemming), Nelson (, crowd shot (Lea Johnson)

Pix of Dylan were forbidden. I suppose that's a good way to maintain one's status as a legend. If you have any camera phone shots, send 'em along!

...back to reality: Bulls return to the DBAP Saturday. Come see us!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fear the Monster!

The News & Observer ran a great story on Jon Weber and our Blue Monster outfield wall in Sunday's edition.

Also, there's a learned sidebar on the coefficient of restitution, ie, the physics of playing the ball as it bounces off the Monster.

N&O writer Luke DeCock serves up this back-handed compliment: Left field at the DBAP is as cramped as a New York apartment: shoehorned into an awkward space with no concern for symmetry or feng shui. It's possible our architect would take exception, but hey, it's part of the DBAP's personality.

Good stuff! Check it out...

And check out the Blue Monster - in person! Click for tix.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On Walter Cronkite

Allow me to stray from my standard fare - Bulls' news and promotion - for these thoughts on Walter Cronkite’s passing. His funeral service is today in Manhattan. He was a hero.

Consider my career path - the abbreviated version: At present, I am the “sports guy” at Capitol. Prior to that I was the “news and sports guy” for twenty years…and before that I was simply “the news guy."

I majored in broadcast journalism and labored as a radio reporter/news director at two CBS affiliated stations in Virginia. Historically, that time frame encompassed Watergate, the US withdrawal from Viet Nam (putting it delicately) and Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter.

I was wet behind the ears, but Walter was in his prime. Network television news was in its prime, too. Walter had a hand in creating it, and remarkably, in that mix of big business, show biz and journalism, he was “the most trusted man in America.”

What an accolade! He wasn’t renowned for his creativity…or his performance skills…or his good looks. Rather, he was known for his integrity. What an achievement! Is integrity an aspirational character trait these days? (Sorry, the curmudgeon alarm just went off.)

I dusted off my copy of Cronkite’s 1996 memoir, A Reporter’s Life. Cronkite humorously notes that people would approach him in retirement with “Didn’t you used to be Walter Cronkite?” But let this truth be his last word: "The free press is the central nervous system of a democratic society."

Walter Cronkite shaped TV news. He was the industry standard bearer. Yet he wore his fame with great humility, and he retired with grace. He was serious about his work, but didn’t take himself too seriously. A significant life. A very good man.

This is in my office; a Capitol milestone: Clayton Henkel of the North Carolina News Network with “Uncle Walter” at a Radio-Television News Directors Assn convention in New Orleans. The NCNN received an Edward R. Murrow award for coverage of Hurricane Fran. Walter confined this photo op to his people - the reporters. (Management was kept at a safe distance.)

Memorabilia; The CBS Eye: I pilfered this sign (pointing to the CBS hospitality suite, of course) at a National Assn of Broadcasters convention in DC. College prank. (Wasn't I just extolling integrity? My bad.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

DBAP Time Machine - come aboard 7/28

I doubled-checked my math. Bob Dylan was born in 1941. He's 68 years old! ...and his never ending tour stops at the DBAP on July 28th.

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park will become a time machine as the poet and voice of 1960's social unrest performs along with Willie Nelson and John Cougar Mellencamp. Willie is 76. Mellencamp is the baby in this group...only 57.

This is the Boomer must-have for the concert - Durham Bulls tie-dyes. They are available in our store now. Groovy!

Timeless tie-dyed lyrics from Bob Dylan: The Times They Are a-Changin'

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

DBAP - a good place to make friends

I may regret this post, but I can't resist...

Our little ball club has received many accolades, and here's the latest:

Men's Health magazine has ranked the Durham Bulls Athletic Park among the Best Places to Meet Women.

It's an eclectic list: Ikea, museum events, a farmers market and the Philadelphia Punk Rock Flea Market.

Men's Health is chocked full of tips for hooking up and sexual advice, but this line from the story is downright wholesome:

You are 227% more likely to meet a potential girlfriend through a friend or family member rather than in a bar...

Isn't that advice from Mom? Anyway, I'm proud that the Durham Bulls provide this service to our community.

Feel free to comment or share DBAP dating advice on our new FANkind blog at

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Alex Montoyo - A True Champion

We are all about fun and games...mascots...fireworks...comfort food (& beverage) entertainment.

Like any family, however, we have our challenges and worries. Case in point: The infant son of our manager Charlie Monotyo. Alex was born with a heart defect. It's been a bumpy ride for the little guy and his family. Last year our generous fans donated $27,000 to help with the Montoyo's medical expenses.

...but Alex is a warrior, and he's recovering from a recent heart operation - a very successful surgery. Charlie missed nine games, but we expected him to be out for a full month. It's good to have Charlie back on the field, and we're celebrating with the Montoyo family!

Check out these two articles:
A recent piece from the News and Observer and a really good ESPN story from last year that provides more background and some good pix.

Charlie isn’t shy about his faith and the power of prayer. It's been inspirational to witness the support he’s received from several Catholic parishes.

Bulls’ broadcaster Ken Tanner leads a Rosary group at St. Michaels in Cary that’s been praying consistently for the family, and two Priests, Father Sal Busichio from Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Raleigh and Father Jim Dull from St. Catherine’s in Wake Forest, have become regulars here at the ballpark in support of Charlie. I’m told they offered a private Mass at the precise time of Alex’s surgery.

When Charlie’s friends say “we’re praying for you” they mean it, indeed!

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Return Engangement: ACC Baseball

There was a lot of (gratifying) chatter on 99.9fm The Fan in May about the ACC Baseball Tournament here at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park...and how the ACC should consider making the DBAP its permanent home. While that goal is yet to be realized, we got some BIG NEWS today.

The Tournament will return to Durham in 2011 and 2013.

Click here for N&O story ("Durham Scoops Up an ACC Tourney"), and this is a chunk of the ACC's official release:

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship will be held at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C. (2012), and the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (2011, 2013), as announced today by ACC Commissioner John Swofford. This will give the championship a home through 2013 as it was recently released that the 2010 ACC Baseball Championship would be held in Greensboro, N.C.

The 2011-13 championships were originally awarded to Myrtle Beach. The ACC’s decision to hold the tournament in this location was made with the stipulation that discussions be held, and agreements made, with all local and state organizations that had voiced concerns over the confederate flag being flown on the state grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol.

Since 2000, the conference has supported the NAACP’s statements concerning the flag issue and followed the NCAA’s policy of not holding pre-determined championships in the state of South Carolina. In 2005, the conference presidents agreed that the ACC would be willing to consider awarding league championships to venues in the state of South Carolina on a case-by-case basis, provided that the host-site proposal included a plan to work with the NAACP at the local and state levels to ensure a proper environment.

“Our baseball committee and institutional administrators awarded the championships to Myrtle Beach with the understanding that the event had the blessings of all parties within the state of South Carolina. It has become clear this was not the case,” stated ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “It’s unfortunate that this miscommunication occurred and since the original announcement, we have had productive conversations with members of the NAACP. In the end, given the conference’s commitment to diversity, equality and human rights, our institutions have determined that this change should be made.”

With the recent success of the 2009 ACC Baseball Championship in Durham and the announcement of the partnership with Greensboro to host the 2010 ACC Baseball Championship, the league has reached agreements for Durham to host the event in 2011 and 2013 with Greensboro hosting in 2012.

“We appreciate both Durham and Greensboro’s commitment to hosting future ACC Baseball Championships,” said Swofford. “The Durham Bulls Athletic Park and NewBridge Bank Park are both first-class facilities found in the heart of the ACC footprint. We feel fortunate that over the next four years, our teams will be able to complete for an ACC Title in two of the top-rated minor league parks in the country.”

Back to the "permanent site" idea; I think it was floated by 99.9fm The Fan's Mark Thomas. We have the engagement through I'm still hoping we can get married...something permanent, maybe?!? Wool E. Bull has no "commitment issues."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Birthday America!

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park is hosting USA Baseball July 4th. The nation's top college players take on their counterparts from Guatemala at 6:05...and we'll celebrate Americas 233rd birthday with fireworks at 9:20. The National Pastime on the Nation's Birthday! Perfection.

- In the courtyard, on the American Tobacco campus, there's a free concert beginning at 5:30, John Brown and the Groove Shop Band.
- ATC's newest restaurant is open for business, Cuban Revolution. Check it out!

America the Beautiful
Words by Katharine Lee Bates
Melody by Samuel Ward

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Teach for America

It was my recent privilege to host ten soon to be public school teachers in our suite at the ballpark. They were in Durham for training as they entered the Teach for America program, and they will be teaching this fall across eastern north Carolina - assigned to low performing schools.

I am so impressed with TFA.

I just assumed it was some sort of scholarship program. Quite the opposite. TFA visits colleges to recruit kids that haven’t considered teaching as a career. They are looking for math, science and econ majors with leadership backgrounds – young people who can be “change agents” in the classroom. TFA provides intensive summertime training and the school districts hire them. The TFA corps members receive on-going mentoring and support during the school year. It’s a very effective system.

I am so impressed with the TFA recruits.

We met math majors…poly sci…a budding economist…pre-med. The Durham school system employees about thirty TFA corps members. Dr. Carl Harris, Superintendent of Durham Public Schools:

Our principals will line up to get a Teach For America teacher. They know from experience that Teach For America teachers are consistently good instructional personnel. Teach For America participants are very student focused and are highly committed to student success. Like all new teachers, they sometimes find the classroom a real challenge, but instead of succumbing, they rise to the opportunity, work through their problems, and come to a solution that will benefit the student, the teacher and the school.

Our TFA guests and Wool E. Bull; the E stands for education!

The TFA regional office is across the street at the American Tobacco campus. Please visit their website. Click here to learn more. I have only scratched the surface in this post. If you are interested in supporting a non-profit organization that’s making an impressive difference in our public schools, make a connection with Teach for America.