About six weeks ago, I suddenly realized what I wanted to do with my summer vacation: drive around the steamy-hot Carolinas with gas at $4.50 a gallon in a 10-year old Nissan Sentra with a bad muffler, an air conditioner that smells like something died in it (but only for the first couple minutes of use), and an engine that’s making a sound like a bird trapped in a tin can.

In other words, PURE AWESOMENESS.

Why, you ask, is this pure awesomeness? Because I will be tootling from ballpark to ballpark, bearing witness to the unspoilt beauty and unfettered fun of minor league baseball. With your help, and after many a happy hour of noodling around on the interwebs when I should have been doing better things, I have narrowed down my original list of 29 teams to a more manageable 13 contenders:

Greensboro Grasshoppers (A)

Hickory Crawdads (A)

Durham Bulls (AAA)

Asheville Tourists (A)

Greenville Drive (A)

Zebulon Mudcats (AA)

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A)

Lynchburg Hillcats (A)

Tennessee Smokies (AA)

Chattanooga Lookouts (AA)

Johnson City Cardinals (Rookie)

Forest City Owls (CPL)

Fayetteville Swampdogs (CPL)

Like a big dork, I mapped out all the localities on this custom Google Map:

I still won’t get to all of these teams, but at least we’re now entering the realm of the possible. Any advice about pretty roads to drive, great places to eat, cheap places to stay, or ways to cut this list down a little more are, of course, appreciated. Leave ’em in the comments or email me!

7 Responses to “Minor League Baseball in the Carolinas: Road trip itinerary taking shape!”

  1. Thanks, this is great.

    I think the reason you don’t see more female baseball players is because of softball. Softball is inferior to baseball (no leading off, larger ball “easier” to hit, generally shorter games), and yet somehow we force women to play it instead of baseball starting after T-ball. Ludicrous.

    It’s not that I have a problem with softball, it’s just that it was clearly designed to be a lower-intensity alternative for winter/recreational play. Why we ghettoize female players this way is well beyond me.

  2. Great read Paul!

    On a softball note, I can’t believe that these girls still wear shorts

  3. Paul Moro says:

    Sarah, you have no idea how jealous this post has made me. For reasons including but not limited to the fact that “Hickory Crawdads” might be the greatest sports team name ever.

  4. Nick Kapur says:

    Sarah, having done this sort of baseball roadtrip a number of times, I think that now that you’ve whittled it down to a smaller number of teams, your next step has to be perhaps the most laborious of all – which is busting out the schedules for all of these teams and comparing when they are home and away and trying to work out a route that will allow you to hit a reasonable number of these teams while they are actually playing in their home park, and not on an off day. That will narrow your list down more, and will also dictate to some extent which roads you can drive on.

    But yeah, just like Paul, I’m super jealous. This is going to be a ridiculously awesome trip, and the Carolinas are really beautiful.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    Yeah, I looked up the schedules—but as you say, matrixing them into some sort of Excel spreadsheet is clearly the next step. Yay!

  6. You may want to stop in Richmond VA if you can work it in there…. this is the last year that the Richmond Braves (AAA) will be playing there, before moving to god knows where….

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