“A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.” — Humphrey Bogart
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If minor league stadiums were ballpark food, Asheville’s McCormick Field would be a hot dog with mustard — an all-American classic. Like the Burlington Royals’ stadium, it is a cozy, intimate space with more than a few reminders of what ballgames used to be like decades ago, but like many Class AAA stadiums several times its size, it also has unique features and guest services that make the experience of attending a Tourists game something special.
(top photo credit: Chris)
I was joined tonight by long-time friend Chris and his brother, Brian, both of whom grew up with me in Roanoke, Virginia, and both of whom are now Asheville residents.
(photo credits: Chris, Brian)
We sat in a section behind the dugout that, in addition to providing us with a great view of the on-field action (including a priceless Class A moment when the umpire had to ask the visiting Savannah Sand Gnat’s center fielder to run back to the outfield fence and close a door that had blown open), also afforded us the services of the stadium crew, who take food and drink orders for in-seat delivery and generally try to make the game experience better. Such service is rare even in the major league, and is certainly largely unheard-of in minor league parks. We started the evening with Maria, who works in a dermatologist’s office by day but noted that she works at the stadium at night because “working Tourists games is my fun job; I like to hear the crack of the bat.”
We were joined on our cozy five-seat row by Barb and Larry from Denver, CO, who were at McCormick Field to see the Class A feeder team for their hometown Colorado Rockies — part of a swing through several states that will bring their total of minor league states to 23 (they weren’t sure how many teams they had seen play; suffice it to say that their minor league travels make my own efforts this week pale in comparison). Barb and Larry are on their way to Pittsburg for a Pirates-Rockies game and, like me, are reading Feinstein’s book on minor league baseball along the way.
I asked Barb, who is blind, what she likes about going to minor league baseball games, and her answer paralleled Maria’s comment and was a perfect encapsulation of what I have been discovering this week: “The smells, the sounds, the people . . . they’re here for the game, for the camaraderie — it’s awesome.” Well said, Barb.
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Asheville 4, Savannah 1. Tonight was the first game I’ve seen on this trip in which the outcome really never was in doubt. Asheville stroked 12 hits, with several other well-hit balls that were inches away from making the score even more lopsided. Several dropped balls by the home team kept the game relatively interesting (the umpires were very lenient with their scoring, recording only three as errors), but Savannah, which apparently had been riding a 19-game winning streak, was unable to capitalize on most of the mistakes.
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Tonight’s beer: French Broad Wee Heavy-er. There were actually several beers tonight, including Wicked Weed’s Coolcumber and Lumiere Rouge, and Lexington Avenue Brewery’s Eleanor’s Rye, but I’m highlighting the Wee Heavy because it is one of my favorite styles (as I noted in an earlier post). Chris, usually a cider drinker, was particularly taken with the Coolcumber.