We found Durham Bulls Athletic Park easily enough and were impressed right off the bat (so to speak). It’s a new, clean, spacious, very professional ballpark—you can really feel that third “A”—with no bumper boats or other pathetic gimmicks. Well, except for the large bull in left field, which will lash its tail, flash its eyes, and let smoke pour from its nostrils whenever the Bulls hit a home run. (Not sure why the bull looks so angry when the home team hits a dinger. Seems like it should be happy?) And yes, if you hit the bull, you win a steak. (Hit the grass on which the bull stands, and you win a salad.)
I was a bit confused as well by the left field wall, which is built to resemble the Green Monster at Fenway, but which is painted dark blue—with a pair of animalistic eyes glaring out—and covered with enormous light blue lettering that reads, “BLUE MONSTER.” Completing the Single White Female effect, they played Sweet Caroline in the 8th inning. But either the Durham fans weren’t into the Neil Diamond singalong, or knew it was an import from up north, because it received a rather tepid reaction.
Nonetheless, let these not be construed as complaints—because it was an excellent place to watch a ballgame, and not just because 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of the famous film. Now that the Bulls are the Triple A team of the Tampa Bay Rays, I was eager to get a look at next year’s crop of Evan Longorias.
I’d brought my Baseball America 2008 Prospect Handbook to the park, and we had a good time looking up the players in it as they came up to bat. I made some notes, which are now on a piece of paper somewhere in my car…so I’ll have to get back to you on that.
And apparently, Gary Gaetti is now Durham’s hitting/first base coach. That was pretty cool. We also got to see Morgan Ensberg and Tony Graffanino, both of whom were playing for the opposing team, the Buffalo Bisons.
As my gal pal pointed out, “Buffalo Bisons” is annoyingly ungrammatical (sort of like the Penascola Fishes, the Missoula Mouses, or the Des Moines Deers, all of which I just made up). She’s smart like that. For my part, it took me several seconds of pondering to figure out why the Buffalo team had chosen to call itself “the Bisons” at all. Go figure.
Alas, the Herd jumped out to an early lead, and held it, despite a late-game rally by the Bulls. This ended my streak of watching the home team win. I bought a couple of t-shirts in the gift shop, and we departed.
Right now, I need some coffee, and then to get back on the road again. Later tonight, of course, there will be photos from the Bulls game and a rundown of last night’s adventure, the Harrisburg Senators game. I’m sorry I’m falling behind! But it’s hard to type and drive at the same time.