Monday, November 29, 2010

Revisiting Rockwell

I was fortunate to get a preview of the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the NC Museum of Art a couple of weeks ago. A group from the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce attended thanks to our host, the Association for Corporate Growth.

Art snobs consider Norman Rockwell a kitschy illustrator, but history will likely judge him a great American realist painter. OK, what do I know about art!?! But we boomers (and our parents...and their parents) grew up with Rockwell’s magazine covers.

The NCMA exhibit includes over 300 Saturday Evening Post covers spanning forty-seven years. That’s a lot to take in. To navigate five decades, my wife and I would pick significant family milestones (birthdays & wedding anniversaries) and find the corresponding covers. Those framed covers frame history in a poignant way.

Rockwell took a personal interest in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and that’s another aspect of the exhibit. The night after our museum visit, Katie Couric did a story on one of the Rockwell paintings for the CBS Evening News.

What interested me the most? It should be obvious...

The Rockwell exhibition runs through January 30th. Work it into your calendar over the holidays!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

American League MVP - Josh Hamilton

I would say there was a 99 percent chance that this would never happen. I mean, honestly, I think a lot of people would agree with that. Josh Hamilton quoted by the AP

We are big-time happy for Raleigh's Josh Hamilton. A well deserved honor for the Texas Rangers' slugger. The balloting was announced today. As the AP story puts it: This was one of baseball's most inspirational turnarounds. Eight trips to rehab...three lost seasons...and now he's a major force in the Majors.
Click here for the story.

I'm a serious believer in second chances. (I've had my share, thankfully.) So, if it's within your power to extend such grace to someone, remember Josh, and do it!

~ ~ ~ ~

I was disappointed with the World Series TV ratings. Nationally, they were off 25-30%. Dallas and San Fran apparently weren't as compelling as the Yankees vs. just about anyone. Hard to swallow that. It was even worse in Raleigh-Durham. We were off by 50% over last year. 68,000 households were tuned in, though. I suppose that constitutes the Triangle chapter of the Josh Hamilton Fan Club!

The ratings generated a lot of chatter on sports talk radio. I'm not too concerned about the popularity debates. Sure, the NFL is numero uno, but baseball's real problem is saturation. Pro football is rationed: 16 games over four months. I have to remind myself that there's an awful lot of baseball. Twice as much as the NBA or NHL. There are 162 regular season baseball games. Across 30 teams that's 4,860 games before we get to the playoffs and World Series. Fans probably have baseball fatigue by late October...but after a brief rest...they are perennially psyched for Spring Training! Baseball endures.

~ ~ ~ ~

While we are on the subject of the World Series, I should correct the record: Josh Hamilton wasn't our sole connection to the Texas Rangers. Former Bull
Jorge Cantu was on the team, too. He helped the Rangers win their division championship with an RBI and homer in the decisive game...but he wasn't in the line-up for the Series.

Way back in 2003, Cantu was a major contributor to the Bulls' championship run. He returned to Durham in '04 earning a spot on the International League's post-season all-star team.

Thanks to blogger Chris Wise of for the reminder. Nice save, Chris.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wolfpack vs. Tar Heels

I try to keep this blog nonpartisan. Occasionally, I slip up and write something less than complimentary about the Yankees or Red Sox. However, I avoid politics and the most incendiary topic of all - college rivalries.

Regarding the latter, it’s time for transparency. I confess that I’m a NC State fan, and Saturday’s 29-25 Wolfpack win over the Tar Heels was fine by me.

Removed from the fanatics (and hot tempers) in Chapel Hill, I snapped this photo at the Streets at Southpoint Saturday evening in Durham. I assume it was unintentional, but this clothing store had marked down its blazers...and the display was predominately Carolina Blue. A little retail humor:

Our company handles NC State's sports broadcasts and marketing for the athletic department - Wolfpack Sports Marketing. That includes apparel. May I suggest this T-shirt...perfect for Holiday gifting!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Undoubtedly, you have encountered a Lids, Hat Shack, Hat World or Sports Fan-Attic at a shopping mall. The popular cap shops are all part of the same company found on the web at

Yet another division, LIDS Team Sports, provides team apparel to Minor League Baseball, and they proudly represent Nike.

The Bulls are honored to be featured in their 2011 catalog. The Durham Bulls Athletic Park and the Diamond View I and II buildings received a two-page spread.

Check out our Nike line at the Bulls Ballpark Corner Store. Click here, and type "Nike" in the search box.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tinker Parnell: "Gotta have baseball."

The Durham Bulls lost their number one devotee last week when Thomas “Tinker” Parnell passed away at seventy-two. (He would not be pleased with devotee, but I needed something stronger than fan to capture his dedication to the ball club.)

I’m assuming he held the record for Bulls games attended by a fan. His father began bringing him to the old Durham Athletic Park when he was ten years old.

Tinker got a mention in Paul Hemphill’s The Heart of the Game. The author noted that he had his nameplate on the aluminum bleachers behind first base and was there in his Bulls cap and shorts and sneakers every night, greeting the players by name as they came out of the clubhouse to the dugout, giving the umpires hell, chain-smoking Winstons, wiping his face with a towel as the proceedings heated up, helping his grandchildren get autographs…

The “Gotta have baseball” line comes from a 1993 Duke Chronicle story. He was quoted in numerous publications as reporters penned features on the charm of the venerable DAP. Tinker was a venerated authority on the Bulls, and he always had a story to share.

In his more senior years at the new ballpark, he was a fixture in our lobby. It was sort of his personal clubhouse. Tinker’s the only fan who had access to our offices. The receptionist would send him back to our break room for a Pepsi, and he would check-up on the front office staff.

At his funeral Sunday the Pastor shared this stat and insight: "Tinker only missed two games at the old ballpark. One was for the birth of his son, and he regretted missing that one. I guess it was a really good game."

Tinker on video in 1994, interviewed for Ghosts in the Ballpark,
a tribute to the Durham Athletic Park

Thanks to Bulls Assistant GM Jon Bishop for photos and memories.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The View

I noticed that Google has a relatively "fresh" aerial view of downtown Durham. That clearing to the right is the site of the new and improved Durham County courthouse. It's out of the ground now. Aside from the cranes, there are a few visible stories of steel and concrete.

The courthouse will top out at eleven stories. I'm thinking you will be able to see into the ballpark from the upper stories. Does that make the Durham judiciary a robbed version of the knothole gang?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lambert's Launchpad: The Durham Concert that headline is slightly over-the-top, but it hasn't even been a month since Miranda Lambert performed at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. On Wednesday night at the CMA Awards in Nashville she raked in the hardware:
  • Female Vocalist of the Year
  • Song of the Year
  • Album of the Year
  • Music Video of the Year
I've been holding on to these unpublished photos from the DBAP concert...hoping that I would have a reason the revisit the subject...and to CONGRATULATE Miranda Lambert!

Check out our Facebook page. You could win a concert poster autographed by Miranda, Josh Kelly and Eric Church.

Photo credit: Deep South Entertainment

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Gaping Achievement Gap

My last post was on a Broadway show. Next up: a documentary. (It is the off-season after all.)

The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce held a screening of Waiting for Superman on Monday. Even with that unruffled, earnest documentary style, it’s a scathing review of American public education in general and teachers’ unions in particular.

The gist of the film (according the me): Public education is broken. It hasn’t functioned effectively since the 1970’s. Funding per pupil has more than doubled while outcomes have flat-lined. The documentary stresses the importance of effective teachers, yet the system engenders mediocrity rather than merit. Poverty need not be an impediment. Children will learn in any school staffed with great teachers. [Click here for Wiki's take on the movie.]

The US Chamber of Commerce is using the film to demand accountability and innovation. Excerpts from an op-ed column in Monday’s Herald-Sun:

The facts are alarming. Among developed countries, the United States ranks 21st out of 30 in science literacy and 25th out of 30 in mathematics literacy. The achievement gap between low-income and minority students and their peers is gaping. And an astonishing 1.2 million students - about six times the population of the city of Durham - fail to graduate from high school each year.

...North Carolina has significant work to do to better prepare all of its students for success in college and the workplace. The National Council on Teacher Quality gave North Carolina a “D+” for its state teacher policies, noting that policies for delivering well-prepared teachers and removing ineffective teachers were especially bad.

...while leaders in North Carolina have been committed to improving student performance in reading and math, achievement is still too low. The National Assessment of Educational Progress found that only 43 percent of fourth grade students and 36 percent of eighth grade students were proficient in math. There is also a wide achievement gap, with minority students underperforming white students by nearly 30 points on fourth and eighth grade reading and math tests.

Read the entire piece; click here. It was penned by Durham native Bill Shore, chairman of the US Chamber’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce and director of community partnerships for GlaxoSmithKline, and Casey Steinbacher, President/CEO of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce.

Waiting for Superman is currently showing at Galaxy Cinema in Cary.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Another Home Run at the DPAC

We do baseball, but our neighbor - the Durham Performing Arts Center - has hit another home run.

I attended the musical Billy Elliot Friday night. It’s an energetic, uplifting production. Elton John wrote the score. Set during the bitter 1980s British coal miners’ strike in County Durham, the story is about that conflict and the family tension between coal miner machismo and Billy’s prodigious ballet talent.

The lead rotates among several young performers. On Friday, it was Giuseppe Bausilio’s turn. The kid is fantastic! He’s from Switzerland, thirteen years old, speaks five languages…and he sure can act, sing and dance.

An advisory from your resident prude: I’ve talked to folks who assumed this was a family show given the child stars and dancers. Maybe not. The language is quite “authentic” and there are issues you might not want to explain to your ten year old. I’m just sayin’…

From County Durham UK to Durham NC: It seems appropriate that this national tour of the show premiered in the Bull City. It was actually staged in Durham over the past couple of months. The orchestra even practiced in our storage space for a few days. The last Durham performance is 11/14…and then the tour moves on to Cleveland, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Tampa, Houston and Seattle this winter.

Only one week left in Durham! Click here for the DPAC website.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The results are in...

No, this isn't about Tuesday's election. Rather, we have the stats for Habitat's Halloween Bike Ride in Durham:
796 riders!

Over $66,000 Raised!

The ever versatile Durham Bulls Athletic Park was both start and finish line for the ride.
A great event for a great cause! Habitat for Humanity is such an effective, productive organization.

Our staff helped out with this home last winter. Check out the before and after:

This is in the Lyon Park neighborhood off Morehead Ave. near downtown Durham. It seems like Habitat is building a house on every block. This is how neighborhoods are transformed...for the better!

Habitat of Durham can assist you with Holiday gift-giving. CLICK HERE for the scoop.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween: Nightmare on Blackwell Street

You would think that the Bulls invented Halloween:

We hosted the Durham Habitat Halloween Bike Ride.

Wool E. Bull went trick-or-treatin' with a family of Bulls fans.

And we sold so many jerseys for Halloween costumes in our store that we were able to donate $1300 to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer awareness month.

Here are several photos from the Saturday cycling event. I'm waiting to hear how much money was raised. Thanks to Cree - outstanding Durham corporate citizen - for sponsoring the ride.