garnetpalmetto
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A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Tue Jul 19, 2005 10:39 am

Baseball fan that I am, I've been somewhat of a nomad this season. You see, my hometown team, the Capital City Bombers left Columbia for a friendlier market, Greenville, SC during the off-season. Greenville had, coincidentally just lost its team, the AA-level Greenville Braves of the Southern League. The move came about when my alma mater, the University of South Carolina decided to go alone and build a stadium only for its baseball team rather than sharing one with the Bombers. Lack of city funds meant that only one park could be funded, so the Bombers left when Greenville offered to build them a new park. In the interim, the Bombers are inhabiting the former home of the G-Braves, Greenville Municipal Stadium. I went up to Greenville Sunday to catch my former hometown team play the Hickory Crawdads, the South Atlantic League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

First, the stadium. Not much to look at at all. Built in 1984, Greenville Municipal Stadium is a fairly standard minor league park near Donaldson Center Airport (GYH), the former Donaldson AFB, in the outlying suburb of Mauldin. Indeed at one point, a Piaggio P-180 flew overhead during the game (thanks to USAFHummer for aiding in the ID of this peculiar looking aircraft!) The stadium is built so that the concourse is on top of the seating bowl, making it somewhat of a hike up and down to my seats in Row A.



Unfortunately I couldn't get many good photos during the game itself since my seat was in the first row right behind the protective netting (besides that, I had my scorebook out so I couldn't photograph and keep score at the same time), but I did catch a few good photos.



A shot down the left foul line, including the Crawdads doing calisthenics. The bullpen both here and for the home team is set up on a berm, certainly a unique setup for a bullpen! Just beyond that, the Bombers have a gentleman dressed up in World War II army fatigues (right down to the steel pot helmet) with a small cannon tha the would set off whenever the Bombers scored a run. However he spent most of the game imbibing an unknown liquid out of his canteen/flask and only set off the cannon twice.

The stadium also features the Greater Greenville Baseball Hall of Fame. Among the most famous people enshrined in the Hall:



Also, in moving from Columbia to Greenville, the Bombers shifted affiliations, dropping their affiliation with 14-year long affiliation with the Mets and picking up an affiliation with the Boston Red Sox, as evidenced by the mascot and most team employees wearing "Red Sox Nation" shirts and, of course, shooting said shirts into the crowd. My issue with this - they're in the heart of Braves country - very few of the fans there care about the Red Sox - it becomes increasingly important to market a team as an individual separate of their MLB affiliate.

As for the game itself, very good. While Greenville had some very good pitching (14 Crawdads players struck out, including the entire side in the first inning), Hickory was able to also put together a strong fielding performance in the first 2/3rds of the game. Hickory's starter Julio Guerrero pitched 6.1 innings, giving up just 3 runs before he imploded in the 7th inning, giving up 3 straight runs. Greenville's starter was Ryan Schroyer who in 3.1 innings faced 16 batters, struck out 5, and gave up 5 hits and 3 runs. Schroyer was ultimately pulled, however, after an inside pitch hit the ump in the shoulder and Greenville manager Chad Epperson argued with the umpire after receiving the warning. Despite being down 8-3 going into the 7th inning stretch, the Bombers put together a perfect come-from-behind win, scoring the winning run in the 9th on the bat of right fielder Chris Turner. The win was given to Kevin Guyette who pitched 2.2 innings, faced 9 batters, and struck out 5 without surrendering a hit.

Altogether a great game - coming soon (as soon as I move that is), pics of Durham Bulls Athletic Park!
South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
 
Logan22L
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Tue Jul 19, 2005 11:03 am

Wow, Garnet, that plaque for "Shoeless Joe" is something. Shame he never made it to the MLB HOF, but, there was a certain matter of...

Kudos for supporting the "minor leagues." There's a great deal of good baseball to be found at good prices. That said, Greenville Municipal Stadium ain't much to brag about, is it?
"The deeper you go, the higher you fly. The higher you fly, the deeper you go."
 
garnetpalmetto
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Tue Jul 19, 2005 11:14 am

Quoting Logan22L (Reply 1):
That said, Greenville Municipal Stadium ain't much to brag about, is it?

Nope, and the Bombers don't have much pride in it either, to be honest. There's still signage around advertising the G-Braves. It's just a temporary home to them until this new beauty is finished in downtown Greenville





South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
 
texan
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Tue Jul 19, 2005 12:41 pm

GP, if you're ever in the greater DFW area lemme know. Can spend an entire 3-day weekend going to see different teams in different ballparks! Obviously the Rangers, also the Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers AA affiliate), and the Ft. Worth Cats (Independent League). Both the Cats and RoughRiders have brand new stadiums (within 2 years or so) and they look great!

Texan
"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."
 
KROC
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Tue Jul 19, 2005 7:32 pm

Wow - In that first picture there are more fans there that at any Pittsburgh Pirates Game. Thats impressive.
 
ANCFlyer
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Tue Jul 19, 2005 7:45 pm

C'Mon up GP, I'll treat to the game . . .

http://www.anchoragebucs.com/
FOR THOSE THAT FOUGHT FOR IT, FREEDOM HAS A FLAVOR THE PROTECTED WILL NEVER KNOW OR UNDERSTAND
 
garnetpalmetto
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Tue Jul 19, 2005 8:36 pm

Quoting KROC (Reply 4):

Wow - In that first picture there are more fans there that at any Pittsburgh Pirates Game. Thats impressive.

Ouch! That hurt, KROC  Wink Seriously though it was an announced attendance of 929 - not great, but better than some of the turnouts when the team was in Columbia. Only time attendance was over 1,000 was on a fireworks night.
South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
 
LHMark
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Tue Jul 19, 2005 10:05 pm

There's something pastoral about seeing a low-minors game. I'm meaning to catch a Batavia Muckdogs (NY-Penn league) game in the near future. Hope you had a good time.
"Sympathy is something that shouldn't be bestowed on the Yankees. Apparently it angers them." - Bob Feller
 
FlyingTexan
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Wed Jul 20, 2005 3:51 am

Quoting Garnetpalmetto (Thread starter):
Hickory Crawdads

I just love names of these minor league teams. I have a hat that says Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs.







The Las Vegas 51s games are gratis to attend after the 5th inning (maybe 6th?) if you’re so frugal and want to save six bucks .

I went to see the Fort Myers Miracle vs. Sarasota Reds. Now I know why their names is Miracle, it takes a miracle to…

Quoting Garnetpalmetto (Thread starter):
However he spent most of the game imbibing an unknown liquid out of his canteen/flask and only set off the cannon twice.

 rotfl 
"Wouldn't your boss like to fly home nonstop at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon?" -Airline Exec to Congressional Staffer
 
tbar220
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Wed Jul 20, 2005 4:04 am

Garnett,

Why did that team leave Columbia to go to Greensville, a city with half the population? You say friendlier market, what does that mean?
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garnetpalmetto
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Wed Jul 20, 2005 4:39 am

Quoting Tbar220 (Reply 9):
Why did that team leave Columbia to go to Greensville, a city with half the population? You say friendlier market, what does that mean?

First of all, Greenville itself may have half the population, but the team draws fairly well from the surrounding environs, including Spartanburg (who had a low-A South Atlantic League team affiliated with the Phillies at one time, but that team left for Kannapolis, NC), Clemson, Anderson, Mauldin, etc. Also, Greenville sits in the I-85 corridor, which is one of South Carolina's fastest growing areas. When it gets down to brass tacks though, the Bombers wanted to move - didn't matter where. They were also being courted by Wilmington, NC and Bowling Green, KY - they just wanted out of Columbia ASAP.

It boils down to this - Columbia's ballpark, Capital City Stadium, is pretty much a dump in an economically dead part of town. Field conditions were poor - very poor. Almost every year the Mets threatened to pull their affiliation from the Bombers (which would have been a kiss of death) due to problems like poor field drainage (each season 2-3 games were cancelled after a heavy rainstorm) and poor physical conditions in the clubhouse and the dugout. Attendance was also generally poor - I know that the only time people really packed the park was when they had fireworks. So, we have a team in need of a new park. At the same time the Bombers were looking for a new park, USC was looking for a new stadium to replace Sarge Fry Field which, due to the successes of the USC baseball team, was too small. So at first, USC and the Bombers attempted to work together on a joint-use stadium. In reality though USC would have gotten the better end of the deal, getting rights to decorate the stadium with a Gamecock theme (their logos, colors, etc.), priority in scheduling, signage rights, etc. The straw that broke the camel's back came when USC demanded over $1,000,000 in earnest money from the Bombers and when they balked, USC pulled out and announced they were going to seek City funds for a USC-only stadium. Because the University and City Council have a "cozy" relationship, they won funding for that even though the owner of the Bombers bluntly stated that he couldn't put his team up for another year in Capital City Stadium. He began looking for places to move and won the rights to the Greenville market and the rest, as they say, is history.
South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
 
srbmod
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Wed Jul 20, 2005 4:40 am

Quoting Garnetpalmetto (Thread starter):
Lack of city funds meant that only one park could be funded, so the Bombers left when Greenville offered to build them a new park.

The irony here is that the reason why the G-Braves moved to Pearl, MS to become the M-Braves (and into a brand new stadium) was that Greenville wouldn't build them a new stadium. The Rome Braves moved from Macon for the same reasons.
 
Mir
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Wed Jul 20, 2005 8:43 am

I notice that the new stadium looks to have practically the same outfield layout as Fenway. Not a bad idea for a minor league Red Sox affilliate.

-Mir
7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
 
srbmod
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Wed Jul 20, 2005 9:30 am

Quoting Mir (Reply 12):
I notice that the new stadium looks to have practically the same outfield layout as Fenway. Not a bad idea for a minor league Red Sox affilliate.

I think making your minor league stadiums have a similar layout to the big league club is the new trend, as the Rome Braves' stadium has been described as a mini-Turner Field, as it has a similar layout to the Ted.
 
garnetpalmetto
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Wed Jul 20, 2005 10:10 am

Quoting Srbmod (Reply 11):
The irony here is that the reason why the G-Braves moved to Pearl, MS to become the M-Braves (and into a brand new stadium) was that Greenville wouldn't build them a new stadium.

Oh absolutely. After the G-Braves ran off, the city of Greenville got wise and basically told the Bombers they'd foot the bill for the new stadium. This then touched off a miniature bidding war for rights to baseball in Greenville County between the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx who were looking to move to Mauldin, the Bombers, and the Hagerstown Suns who were interested in moving near I-85 somewhere in Greenville. Columbia, meanwhile, hasn't been as smart. They're offering "free land" to any club that moves here as long as that club pays for their own stadium. The free land being offered? The current site of Capital City Stadium (see above for my comments about that area) or the site of the old Richland County landfill.
South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
 
garnetpalmetto
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RE: A Day At The Ballpark With GP

Mon Aug 01, 2005 10:59 am

And a continuation - Garnetpalmetto presents....a NIGHT at the Ballpark with GP. Last week I realized that upon seeing Municipal Stadium I had visited all of South Carolina's current active parks (Greenville's Municipal Stadium, Charleston's Joseph P.Riley Park, Fort Mill's Knights Stadium) save one - Coastal Federal Field in Myrtle Beach. Coastal Federal is the home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, an Advanced-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, who play in the Carolina League. I hastily bought tickets for a match-up between the Pelicans and the Lynchburg Hillcats (affiliated with the Pirates) and drove to MYR for the game, yesterday. It had been raining sporadically, but heavily, on the drive to Myrtle Beach but by the time I arrived around 1:00 PM, it had stopped. I ate lunch, did some exploring at Broadway at the Beach, and killed a few hours in the excellent Ripley's Aquarium which features stingrays which you can pet as well as a tunnel that goes through one of the tanks allowing you to see sharks, sawfish, and other sea life swimming around you - definitely a good spot to go on vacation.

Finally game time approached so I made my way to the nearby stadium. Coastal Federal was built in 1999 to house the team that had been the Durham Bulls of Bull Durham fame. You see, the Bulls moved up to the AAA level in 1998, causing the Braves to seek a new location for their High-A team. After a year playing in Danville, VA (which is now home to the Braves Rookie club, the Appalachian League Danville Braves), the team moved to Myrtle Beach, which had been without a minor league team for approximately 10 years after the Myrtle Beach Hurricanes moved to Hagerstown, MD, and into Coastal Federal Field.



While not built directly on the beach, the stadium is only a few blocks inland and is directly across 21st Street from Broadway at the Beach. The stadium was, quite simply a nice place to catch a game. Palmetto trees line the walk up to the stadium and, to my surprise, the stadium features a gate devoted entirely to people with Internet tickets (what a perk!)



The concourse is wide and clean and is only sporadically cluttered with carts (I counted two beer carts, the customer service booth, and a frozen lemonade stand). Otherwise the majority of concessions are done out of a single large concessionaire behind the homeplate area. With the concourse under the bleacher seats, my only complaint is that lighting could have been better after the sun went down, but before then, ample sunlight comes in to avoid the "dingy concrete tunnel" feeling of some concourses.



Seats were quite comfortable and, to my surprise, the program advertised that they had previously been in Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium. Having never been to the Launching Pad, I've got to say they had some seriously comfy seats! Each featured a cupholder for drinks, but for some reason the highest row of seats before the break in the concourse between the lower and upper bowls only featured one armrest for the seats on the end. I actually liked this and found I wasn't bumping my elbow into an arm rest while I was scoring the game.




Looking up to the bleachers prior to the game


Grounds crew wetting down the infield

Lastly, I got to meet their mascot, Splash, who informed me that the mascots of minor league baseball are currently mounting a plan to extract vengance from KROC after his dissing of Rochester's mascot last season. Watch out, Godfather!



The game itself had decent attendance (a turnout of 2,795 meant the stadium was about 64% filled). The game itself, was another pitcher's duel. Going into the 8th inning, the score was tied 2-2 with both teams being matched pretty evenly in terms of both offense and defense. The breaking point came in the 8th when Lynchburg put in closer Chris Hernandez. Hernandez gave up a single to the first batter he faced catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who was 2 for 3 going into the inning), a double to right field Matt Esquivel, then beaned the following batter, Steve Doetsch to load the bases. After that he struck out Myrtle Beach's Mark Jurich to start backing himself out of the corner. The next batter would be first baseman Scott Schade who had homered previously. Schade received four straight balls from Hernandez, walking in the winning run. After that, Hernandez crumbled giving up 2 more hits and 3 more runs before a fly out and a stikeout brought the inning to a close. Final score after Lynchburg's at-bat: 6-2 in favor of the home team.

My main gripe about the game is, I felt, that Lynchburg's manager left Hernandez in too long. Although he faced only 9 batters the guy had a meltdown out there and, as far as I could tell, had nobody warming up in the bullpen. Am I insane to think that, even that late in the game, you don't leave a guy out there struggling THAT badly? Otherwise, it was hardly an offensive show - only 3 doubles, 1 triple, and 1 homer were hit in the game as the breeze in from the ocean kept most balls inside the park or where they could be caught with ease. My secondary gripe would be that, like in the case of the Bombers, the Pelicans need to establish their own identity separate of their parent club. Case in point - during that 8th inning rally, I nearly drop my pencil when I hear the music for the Tomahawk Chop come over the PA system. Umm...that might work if the Pelicans were named for the Braves (they're the only team in the Braves organization NOT named "Braves," in fact). Maybe something more appropriate for a beach location? Playing "Wipeout" maybe?

All told, Coastal Federal is a great spot to catch a game and comes recommended to anyone coming through MYR on vacation.

[Edited 2005-08-01 04:04:31]
South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.

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