Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Glanville's Baseball Insights

Doug Glanville doesn't live into the scratchin' and spittin' stereotype. He is a thoughtful, articulate observer of baseball in his retirement.

Doug visited the DBAP a couple of weeks ago. We talked about his tenure with the Cubs, Phillies and Rangers. He was a standout center fielder and hitter, primarily for Philadelphia, leaving the field in 2005. I was equally impressed with the influence of his strong family and a Penn degree in systems engineering.

Today, Glanville is an author, ESPN baseball analyst...and a new resident of the Triangle! On Wednesday evening he will be signing his book The Game From Where I Stand at Quail Ridge Books. The paperback edition has just been released.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Most Memorable ACC Baseball Tourney

The University of Virginia won yet another ACC title Sunday. The finale of the five-day event was uneventful compared to Friday and Saturday.

Friday featured the longest game in tournament history. The contest began Thursday evening between NC State and Ga. Tech and ended Friday at 12:40 am after five hours and 488 pitches. The game lasted fifteen innings! (NCSU lost.)

And the dawn brought more drama on Friday. The schedule was turned upside down by five inches of rain. (Bulls' GM Mike Birling reports five, but groundskeeper Scott Strickland says it was seven inches.)

The Friday monsoon forced a rescheduling for Saturday. Yet another record: Five games played at the DBAP in one day.

Our staff - baseball's warriors - fell on their swords (or bats?) for this one. It was a 100 hour work week.

"We return to our regularly scheduled programming" as they say on TV. The Bulls are at home Memorial Day through June 6th playing Columbus and Pawtucket.

Friday on Lake DBAP. The grounds crew allegedly caught a catfish in the outfield.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The ACC Moves In

The Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Tournament begins on Wednesday, and the ACC has taken over the DBAP. The Conference staff is transforming the ballpark into a collegiate championship venue.

They bring their flags and banners...

They bring their textiles...

They bring their TV production trucks...

The television crew rolled in Monday. The games are broadcast on regional sports networks from New England to Florida.

The coaches had breakfast in American Tobacco's Bay 7 this morning and teams have begun practice. That's NC State and Clemson on the field today...

Monday, May 23, 2011

PeTA Rates the DBAP...

PeTA has again recognized the Bulls’ healthy menu choices - especially for fans that abstain from meat.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released their Minor League ballpark rankings last week: The DBAP was a lean, ripped Number Five in the nation.

A veggie sausage now compliments our veggie dog and black bean veggie burger.

Papa John’s offers a veggie pizza.

Moe’s Southwest Grill came aboard with a tofu burrito and fresh salads.

In the potato realm, we’ve added sweet potato fries, loaded tater tots and

Top that off with fried pickles.

Meatless and mouth waterin'. I'm headed to the concourse food court...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sounds of Summer

The term sports marketing evokes classic Super Bowl ads and irreverent beer commercials.

…but there are more meaningful applications of our trade, and that’s what occurred at last Wednesday's afternoon game.

Cochlear Americas - they make hearing implants - sponsored the game and invited their customers (or patients?) to the DBAP to celebrate the
Sounds of Summer.

Before their cochlear implant (something I put in the miracle category) these folks couldn’t hear the National Anthem, the crack of the bat or the cotton candy barker. They couldn’t enjoy singing
Take Me Out to the Ball Game. The implant was a game changer!

"The greatest thrill is I'm able to talk, understand and be a part of my grandchildren's life."

That’s a quote from Stuart Nelson, a Chapel Hill granddad. Regina Wang captures his story and the event for the News & Observer.
Click here for the article.

Bill Law of the Bulls and Mr. Nelson observe the month of May as Better Hearing and Speech Month. The kids led the singing of Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh inning stretch...

71,000 adults and children in the US have received cochlear implants, but that's only 5% of those with hearing loss who might benefit.

Click here for more coverage: Chapel Hill Magazine.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Hank Aaron Files

Last week's turn-back-the-clock game at the Durham Athletic Park reminded me of a significant period in Bulls' history - when the Atlanta Braves came to town!

During most of the 1970's, there was no Minor League ball in Durham. An early attempt at "regionalism" featured a team that split its games between Raleigh and Durham. The concept failed to win fans and the team fizzled. No baseball for almost a decade.

In 1979 Miles Wolff enticed the City of Durham to fix up the DAP, he convinced the Braves to provide a team, and the Carolina League single-A Durham Bulls returned to the field in 1980. The rest is (modern) history!

The Braves were represented by Hank Aaron. Hammerin' Hank had retired in 1976 and moved to the Atlanta front office. He was assigned the Durham project.

Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield discovered these letters in his files last year. He shared them with me...and I share them with you. There's nothing earth shattering about these documents, but thirty years later, they are can be viewed as a milestone in the Bulls 109-year legacy. Click here to read more from the Aaron files.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Behind the scenes...

Our local newspaper, The Herald-Sun, did a wonderful series on some of the unheralded jobs at our ballpark.

They are interesting stories - along with video essays - about unique jobs and off-limits parts of the DBAP.

~ ~ ~

Consider our manual scoreboard. No electronics. There’s a human being behind those numbers.

Chris Ivy is his name, and he resides in the belly of the outfield wall during every game. You gotta love baseball to do that job!

Another off-limits area: the locker room (or the “clubhouse” as it’s distinctly known in baseball.) It’s the players’ private realm of food, fitness club, physical therapy, laundry and video games.

What’s it like for assistant “clubbie” Daniel Jordan to work in this secret world?

Click here for an index to the entire series about the scoreboard, clubhouse, snow cone barker and groundskeeper.

Friday, May 13, 2011

More on the DAP game...

As the week winds down there's still a lot of buzz surrounding Monday's game at the historic Durham Athletic Park.

We held a fan photo contest on Facebook. Brett Carver is the winner. It's a classic...

...just as the Durham Bulls Athletic Park sparked renovation on the south end of downtown when it opened, the old park's restoration, completed in 2009, is credited with helping to bring its neighborhood back to life.

That's from Martha Quillin writing about the DAP in the News & Observer. Click here for the article - a good story on what the restored ballpark means to the north Durham neighborhood.

Now, punch play and enjoy this video essay by the Bulls' very talented Andrea Roa:

...and one more story from WRAL TV5's Jason Jennings...who camped out at the DAP; click here for the video.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Baseball Time Machine

The Bulls play at the Durham Athletic Park tonight...our home until 1998...restored by the City of Durham. The DBAP is south of downtown; the DAP is on the north end. The shrine to Bull City baseball and the "on location" site of the 1988 cinema classic Bull Durham is currently operated by Minor League Baseball. The DAP has its own website. Check it out; click here.

The above image (late '80s) comes from the Endangered Durham website. Click here for additional pix. Scroll down to browse through their library.

Join us this evening...should be a beautiful - and memorable - night for baseball! Tickets: www.durhambulls.com.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Extra Innings = Big Finish!

Our Saturday evening game was an extra innings affair - eleven of them. For the fans that stuck around...they saw a terrific ending...better than fireworks:

Click here for the game story.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

ESPN Deportes returns to airwaves

Our Hispanic sports station returned to the air last week. The April 16th tornado leveled its tower just south of downtown Raleigh and 1550 AM/ESPN Deportes was off-air for 2.5 weeks.

Our engineers, Keith Harrison and Will Patnaud, quickly came up with a plan for a temporary antenna. It smacks of amateur radio – an antenna wire stretched between two poles.

However, their ingenuity was thwarted by the demand for poles. It took a while to get ‘em; demand for utility poles was acute across the south following the tornado outbreak.

…but they got it done:
The show must go on! (El programa de radio debe continuar!)

Here's a photo of our science project. Will and Keith get a Blue Ribbon.

The fallen antenna: 285' of steel destined for the recycling yard.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bulls in Hi Def

Bulls TV premiers this weekend in hi def! Gather your tribe in the man cave and punch up channel 1151 on Time Warner Cable.

THANKS to Time Warner for slotting us on a hi def channel for the 2011 season.

We're excited to partner with WRAZ to provide not only more HD content but programming that is of particular local interest to our customers in the Raleigh/Fayetteville area.
Dan Santelle, VP
Programming and Product Development
Time Warner Cable

Note the guide below; we have our own channel!

Bulls TV is produced in cooperation with Capitol Broadcasting's WRAZ/Fox50 and its new sister station MeTV. Bulls broadcasts - on MeTV - reside on channel 151 and over-the-air on 50.2 in standard def.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Homestand & Cornhole

The Bulls begin their second home stand of the season tonight. The team will be at the DBAP through next Thursday, May 12th. There’s so much going on. Rattle around on our web site and make your plans.

  • Fireworks Friday night.
  • Saturday and Sunday games at 5:05.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants will be with us Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (This may be more important than baseball?)
  • On Monday we haul the team over to the revered Durham Athletic Park for an evening of nostalgia vs. the Indianapolis Indians. Clay Aiken will perform the National Anthem.
  • Next Wednesday is a day game, 11:05. Play hooky!

…and another thing:

Sixty-four teams will compete in the 4th annual Cornhole Cup on Saturday at American Tobacco – sponsored by Capitol’s sports stations, 99.9 The Fan & 620 The Buzz.

Cornhole is a popular tailgating game. It’s a very serious version of a bean bag toss.

And consider its historicity per Wikipedia: scholars confirm that a game of very similar nature was played amongst Native Americans in Midwest America, who filled pigs' bladders with dried beans and competitively tossed them for entertainment, notably, the Blackhawk tribe in Illinois.

Proceeds from the Cornhole Cup will go to the American Cancer Society’s Prostate Cancer Research Division.

The bags start flyin’ at 10am Saturday in the ATC courtyard. Come for Cornhole, and stay for lunch in one of the ATC restaurants.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Russell Wilson - QB or 2B ???

Russell Wilson’s dream is to play both football and baseball. He refuses to choose one over the other.

…but NC State’s head football coach Tom O’Brien was compelled to take a more decisive approach. Last Friday
the Wolfpack released the star QB from his football commitment. Wilson is playing baseball again this this spring in the Colorado Rockies farm system. He’s currently at second base for the Class A Asheville Tourists. O’Brien needs to move on, but Wilson won’t jettison football.

"While my immediate plan includes playing professional baseball, I have not closed the door on football. With one more season of college eligibility remaining, I will continue to explore and consider all my options." Russell Wilson

You have to admire Wilson’s aspirations, but I can’t imagine having it both ways. The path to excellence at the major league level begins with a commitment – an exclusive commitment – that doesn’t accommodate two sports.

In the Rays’ organization a top prospect has little down time. Even though the minor league season ends around Labor Day, a rookie would next report for instructional league play in Florida. That lasts about a month, and then he would play for about six weeks in
the Arizona fall league. (Whoops! There goes football season.)

A veteran minor leaguer would probably sharpen his skills in Latin America playing winter ball in Venezuela, Mexico, the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. That’s an October to January obligation, and before you know it, it’s time for Spring Training!

If you’re aiming for the majors, it’s a year-round commitment.