Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Few of My Favorite Things

Three upcoming events are worthy of your attention in the New Year - baseball, eSports and country music. (My job does not lack for variety!) 

Tickets are on sale!!! Did someone say stocking stuffers???

Archway Foundation Night of Champions. January 26.

Durham Bulls alum and Clayton NC's favorite son, Chris Archer, is holding his annual Archway Foundation Gala here at the DBAP in the PNC Triangle Club. The Pittsburgh Pirates ace has recruited a few of his MLB buddies to attend - Brent Honeywell, Marcus Stroman and Willy Adames.

Chris has a particular interest in homeless youth, and he's planning to make that a focus of his foundation’s work in our community. The Bulls are cheering him on!

Triangle eSports Championship. February 10.

I am the most unlikely person in our company to be working on eSports. Is there an AARP league? But I'm a believer. eGaming is no longer a childhood pastime that young folks outgrow. It's now adult recreation, and it's booming! There are 800K gaming consoles in our TV market according to Nielsen. 77K people read a video game story on in the past 120 days.

Capitol Broadcasting Company has partnered with the Kramden Institute, the Triangle Literacy Council and the Durham Sports Commission for a February tournament at the Durham Armory. Check out the website for info and tickets.

Kramden and TLC are trailblazers. These progressive nonprofits view eSports as a way to promote digital inclusion and literacy. And we are cheering them on!

Nashville Songwriters at DPAC. April 6.

They've written hits for Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Toby Keith and Carrie Underwood. Nine of Nashville's top songwriters bring their guitars and share their behind-the-scenes stories from Music Row. It's laid back and "unplugged"...a unique musical experience. DPAC website.

The concert is a benefit for Kidznotes, The NC Boys Academy and Voyager Academy Friends of the Arts. Yes, we are cheering them on, too!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Baseball Roots

The Bulls have been celebrating the 30th anniversary of Bull Durham this summer, reveling in our Hollywood birthright. On Saturday, we are seriously cranking up the time machine - 160 years retrograde - for a vintage game of "base ball" at the iconic Durham Athletic Park. 1860 rules and old-timey uniforms. No gloves, no foul balls, no strike-outs, underhanded pitching. It's a benefit for the Duke Homestead State Historic Site. Adam Gold at 99.9 The Fan has organized the celebrity team. He calls it the ultimate throwback game:

We’re going back in time, not to the 80’s or the 70’s, but to the 60s - the 1860’s!!!  Back, before there was such a thing as Tommy John surgery or lunch angles or even the dreaded shift.  We’re going back to the game’s original rules, to the game as it was intended, with limited commercial interruption.  No mascots, no in-game human bowling, no Chicken Dance, just the game as it was intended.  

Duke Homestead is in for a tussle when the Fourth Estate Nine rolls into historic Durham Athletic Park.  13 members of the local media celebrating the game as it used to be - apart from the chewing and spitting - will turn back the clocks almost 160 years.  

The DAP gates open at 3:30, BP at 3:45, first pitch at 5:00. Five bucks will get you in. 

Here's the Duke Homestead release...

Join Duke Homestead Education & History Corporation at the Historic Durham Athletic Park on August 11 for a vintage "base ball" game that celebrates and includes all those who contributed to the game over the past century and a half!

Experience the beginnings of America's pastime in Durham's historic ballpark - just a bat, a ball, and a lively match. Organized by the nonprofit friends of Duke Homestead State Historic Site (Duke Homestead Education and History Corporation), a team of vintage ballers will take on local sports media personalities, playing by vintage rules. We'll have game-inspired crafts and activities for kids. Don't forget to bring your appetite for food trucks, Bull Durham Beer Company brews, and old fashioned concessions. Hurrah!

This program will also recognize Durham's rich and complex baseball history, which includes decades of segregation during the Jim Crow era. We will share the story of segregation at the Durham Athletic Park and the Negro League, as well as the the early history of the game.

Tickets cost $5 per person, kids 4 & under are free! Get your ticket in advance online, or at the door (cash only).
Thank you to our sponsors, Capitol Broadcasting Company, the Durham Bulls, and Stone Brothers & Byrd Garden Center.
All proceeds from the event will benefit the nonprofit friends of Duke Homestead, the Duke Homestead Education and History Corporation.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Pickin' cukes at the DBAP

The harvest has begun! That's Bulls Assistant GM Chip Allen pickin' cucumbers in our streetside garden yesterday. It's yet another addition to his job responsibilities as our Victory Garden bears produce. 

Here's the story on our urban garden, a joint project with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC. 

In the seven surrounding counties over 250,000 people are considered “food insecure.” The Inter-faith Food Shuttle website has more metrics on hunger in NC. The stats are troubling, and this garden is our modest effort at community nourishment. The veggies will be donated to local non-profits, school kids will visit to learn about nutrition and gardening, and thousands of Bulls fans will see this live exhibit about urban agriculture.

...more photos of our edible landscaping. It began on a cold, wet February day as the Bulls and Bland Landscaping met to finalize plans for the garden build-out:



Last week...

Monday, May 14, 2018

NBC Reports: Miracle League

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt was on location in Durham for the network’s May 11th broadcast, and our Miracle League project received national attention. Thank you, NBC! 

The 6:30 national news broadcast closed with an affecting story about Miracle League of the Triangle. It was shot the previous Saturday at the Andy’s Foundation Miracle League field in Cary.

Bulls Manager Jared Sandberg, several players and front office staffers were volunteers.

The NBC story noted that $1.5mm has been raised for Durham's Miracle League field. That's a great start, but the goal is $2.5mm. We've launched an All-Star Campaign to close the gap. We're reaching out for $5,000 pledges, payable over five years. 100 of those will reap an additional half million dollars. All-Star Campaign details + pledge form. 

There are 10,000 special needs children within a fifteen minute drive of the DBAP. Let's build a Miracle League field for those kids and their families right here in Durham!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Country Crescendo

What a surprise ending!!! Nashville Songwriters at DPAC concluded with Jessi Alexander on stage to perform her power ballad The Climb, a triple platinum hit for Miley Cyrus in 2009. Then, the curtain was raised to reveal her accompaniment - the Kidznotes orchestra!

Kidznotes was a beneficiary of the evening's proceeds, so this was a most meaningful finale for the performers, the kidz and the audience.

Capitol Broadcasting Company and WRAL TV were media sponsors. We were accompanied by 94.7 WQDR. Thanks to Don Curtis at Curtis Media and President Trip Savery for getting behind this unique event. 

The benefit concert began in a high school cafeteria and has graduated to the DPAC. Another round of applause for the impresario, Jeff Outlaw!

Ken Huth Photography was there with his camera...

Friday, April 20, 2018

Music City + Bull City

We are a week away from Nashville Songwriters at the DPAC. Durham County resident and songwriter Jeff Outlaw has persuaded seven of his Music City friends to perform in the Bull City on April 27th. Remarkably, this group is responsible for writing 75 number one country songs! 

It's a unique event, sort of like Behind the Music meets Unplugged. The writers sit in a semi-circle on stage, share the story behind each song and give a solo performance...with a little help from their friends. It's like you've been invited into the studio. (Read more about the show.)

Capitol Broadcasting Co. came on board because a portion of the proceeds will benefit Kidznotes, the nonprofit that engages youth with orchestra, band and choir. I really liked the idea of putting the popularity of country music to work in that space.

Jeff Outlaw chats with WRAL's Bill Leslie.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Gardening at the DBAP

The Durham Bulls are known for our urban oasis of luxuriant turf. Up next: squash and tomatoes and blueberries!

We are creating an edible landscape along Jackie Robinson Drive - an urban garden. It’s a riff on the Victory Gardens of wartime and the symbolic battle with food insecurity and unhealthy diets. [Bulls media release]

Inter-faith Food Shuttle came to us with this project. Mark Stanford at the American Tobacco Campus is on their board. IFS is promoting urban gardening in what are called food deserts - low income neighborhoods with limited access to fresh fruits and veggies. And it helps to alleviate food insecurity. 23% of NC’s kids live in households classified as food insecure according to the just-released 2018 NC Child Health Report Card. 

Another IFS board member Kurt Bland has been a key player. He’s in the landscaping business, and his firm figured out how to tuck a 1600 sq’ garden between the ballpark and Jackie Robinson Dr. The street-side location will allow IFS to bring in school groups. Their bus or van can pull right up to the garden. 

The Bulls are proficient at growing grass, but I couldn’t vouch for our ability to raise beans and ‘maters. That’s where Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC stepped up with the funding to maintain the garden. The project is aligned with their interest in promoting healthier diets. BCBSNC is particularly concerned with food insecurity, access to fresh/healthy food and childhood obesity. 

How does your garden grow? Check on our progress this summer. I’m hoping the DBAP is the perfect spot for a downtown garden that will bring attention to these issues of hunger, nutrition and better health. Maybe you can grab a handful of fresh blueberries before a game.

PS - check out Thrive NC. It’s another way Blue Cross is bringing attention to food system and health issues...with a food festival! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Clubbie's Spirit

One year ago Monday our forty-two year old Clubhouse Manager Colin Saunders passed away. He had been very ill, seemed to be improving, then suddenly, he was gone.

Despite fourteen years of greeting one another in the office and catacombs of the ballpark, Colin and I weren’t close. I did not post about this last March. There were no stories or insights to share. (That photo does suggest a shared bad taste in argyle vest sweaters.)

I especially regret that disconnect because a profound sadness among my coworkers settled over the ballpark. Colin was beloved by our staff and within the Rays organization. Confessor to some. Motivator to others. And chamberlain to the players and coaches. I use that archaic term to confer dignity on the Clubbie’s responsibilities and work. He pretty much lived at the ballpark. Steward to the ball players. Friend to all.

Looking back twelve months, the 2017 season had a gloomy beginning. Yet the Bulls went on to win the Governors’ Cup and Triple-A National Championship. We set business and attendance records - a remarkable year. It’s not sentimental conjecture - there's undeniable proof - Colin’s spirit was with us.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dedicated to Durham

"I will work for Durham until the day I die!"
Cora Cole-McFadden, Civic Honor Award
Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce
Annual Meeting | February 8, 2018

Cora is one of my favorite folks. I called her "Durham dynamite" in a tweet. The former City Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem has a big spirit.

There's an Old Testament story about the prophets Elijah and Elisha where the latter asks "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit." That's my request of Cora!

In accepting the Durham Chamber's Civic Honor Award last week, she implored the business community to provide internships and summer jobs for Durham youth - to expose them to the world of business, to the world of work.

Durham Public Schools and Made in Durham are putting a fresh emphasis on work-based learning. It begins simply with career awareness, but that first rung on the ladder is important, especially for our children living at the poverty level. They don't necessarily see beyond their circumstances or neighborhood. An engaging career fair, a summertime job shadow opportunity or part-time job could alter the trajectory of a young life.

The City has a YouthWork program. The Durham Bulls and Bull City Hospitality are participating. YouthWork is currently lining up several hundred summer internships. Ideally, it would be in the thousands. 

There are over ten thousand students in Durham's high schools. As the kids move from grade to grade, we need to provide a couple thousand career exposures each year for rising sophomores and juniors, and then for graduates.

That's ambitious, but scale is important. We need those big numbers to make a significant difference.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

For Auld Lang Syne, My Friends

I'm guilty of severe lollygagging when it comes to this blog. I have developed a Twitter affection, rather, a Twitter infection!

However, a tweet is inadequate for the season of our Triple-A National Championship and International League Governors' Cup. I submit - with gratitude - this New Year's post as a placeholder and worthy 2017 year-in-review:

Bulls celebrate Sept National Championship win in Scranton PA

Durham hoists the Governors' Cup x5

L/R: Mike Birling, Durham Mayor Bill Bell & NC Gov Roy Cooper

Yes, a tweet is insufficient.
...for celebrating a twenty year affiliation with the Tampa Bay Rays and over ten million tickets sold at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Other highlights for me included Hispanic Heritage Night, Bark in the Park, Durm Night, Taco Tuesdays, our first e-gaming tourney at the DBAP and the enduring national popularity of the Bulls' logo and apparel.

More on the Bulls Top Ten Moments of 2017

As 2018 begins, I'm moving into a Special Projects role at Capitol Broadcasting Co. Building the Miracle League ball field in Durham is one of my top assignments. 

Meanwhile, Bulls GM Mike Birling got the "call up." He's the new and very able VP of Baseball Operations. His cup overfloweth with the ACC Baseball Championship returning to Durham in May and the Holly Springs Salamanders, Capitol's newly acquired collegiate summer league team. And in his spare time, Mike's designing jewelry...