Last month my grandparents and I took a road trip to Myrtle Beach and stopped and saw some baseball on the way there and the way back. This week I’ll describe the baseball-related parts of the trip.
We left on July 9th and that day we drove to Birmingham and then saw a Barons game that night. The Barons are a double-A affiliate of the White Sox. The stadium (Regions Park) is very nice. It has a cool look to it on the outside and some nice history inside of it. On every entrance from the concourse to the seating area they have a picture of a player who had played baseball in Birmingham and some info about them, such as:
They also had some others that I had never heard of. The only bad thing I have to say about the stadium is that they have too many ads. They have two layers of them all around the outfield wall. They have some on the back wall. They even have ads as between-inning entertainment, and they have sponsors for the foul balls. So every time a foul ball was hit, the PA announcer would say something like “That foul ball is brought to you by AAA Batteries.” They also have horrible hot dogs. That had to be one of the worst hot dogs I’ve ever had, so if you go to see a Barons game, do not get a hot dog.
It was a good game. The Barons ended up beating the Mississippi Braves 7-3. The Braves’ #2 prospect (according to Baseball America), Jason Heyward went 1-for-3 with an RBI. The Braves’ #5 prospect, Freddie Freeman went 0-2 with a run and two walks, while the White Sox’ #5 prospect Jordan Danks (yes, he is John Danks’ brother) went 0-5 with two strikeouts. The Braves’ pitcher, Kyle Cofield had a no-hitter through three innings and looked great, but then lost it and ended up giving up 7 runs, all earned, on five hits and five walks in just 4.2 innings, raising his ERA to 4.00. Justin Cassel picked up the win for the Barons, as he went 7 innings, allowing 3 runs, only two of them earned, but he somehow managed to get no strikeouts. CJ Retherford had a good game for the Barons, going 1-2 with 3 RBI’s.
The Barons had some very interesting fans. In the section behind us there was a man who would just randomly start barking like a dog. Also, they shot out toy rockets to the fans one inning. One fan then turned around and shot his into the Barons dugout, and another shot his onto the field during the game.
The next day we drove up to Winston-Salem to see some relatives (my granddad’s brother Herb and his wife Annette), and while we were there we saw a Dash game (the Dash are also affiliated with the White Sox, their High A team). They played the Lynchburg Hillcats (affiliated with the Pirates). The Dash play at Ernie Shore Field also known as Wake Forest Baseball Park also known as some other name I can’t remember. The stadium is very, very old. My granddad saw a game there as a kid 50 years ago, when the Yankees with Mickey Mantle came to town for an exhibition game. They were supposed to have a new stadium this year that looked like it will be really nice, but it had some complications so it won’t open until next year.
It is a very small stadium, but we had great seats, as we were only four rows behind home plate. The game wasn’t so good, though, and it was very long. The Dash starting pitcher, Justin Edwards, was horrible. He allowed 8 runs, all earned, on 9 hits and 2 walks in just 2.1 innings. The White Sox didn’t have any of their top prospects playing in this game. Tyler Kuhn had a good game for them, though, as he went 2-4 with 2 RBI’s. The Pirates didn’t have any of their top prospects in this game, either. Matt McSwain, the starting pitcher for the Hillcats in this game, didn’t fare too well, either, as he allowed all 6 of the runs that the Dash scored in just 5 innings pitched, and allowed 9 hits. The bullpen for the Hillcats then threw 4 innings, and allowed only one baserunner. Chase d’Arnaud hit a grand slam in the 3rd inning. Matt Hague also hit a home run for Lynchburg in the game. The Dash ended up losing 12-6.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans:
After visiting some more relatives in Elkin (my grandma’s sister Margaret and some of Margaret’s kids and grandkids) and then spending a week at the beach, we went to a Myrtle Beach Pelicans game on our 2nd to last day before we started the drive back. They play at BB&T Coastal Field and are also affiliated with the Atlanta Braves (their High A team). They were playing the Dash. They have a very nice stadium, and I go to see the Pelicans every time I go to Myrtle Beach.
Once again, we had great seats, this time only two rows behind home plate, and with a very nice scout behind us that we talked to throughout the game. The game took forever, as it had been an hour by the time the 2nd inning was over, and an hour and a half halfway through the 3rd. Once again, the Dash had none of the organization’s top 10 prospects in the game. But the Pelicans had some of theirs. Their starting pitcher for the game, Cole Rohrbough, is the Braves’ #5 prospect (according to Baseball America). He lasted only 5.2 innings, and allowed 5 runs, 4 earned, on 8 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 6. Craig Kimbrel, the Braves’ #10 prospect, also pitched in the game, and he also struggled, picking up the loss in two-thirds of an inning of relief where he allowed one run on one hit in the 11th. The Dash starting pitcher lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up 3 runs, but only 1 hit, as he walked 6 and must have thrown about 80 pitches. The game lasted 11 innings, but we only stayed for 6 and a half because the game lasted for sooooooooo long. The game ended up lasting 4 hours and 18 minutes.
Also, in the top of the 2nd inning, Salvador Sanchez of the Dash called time during the pitcher’s wind-up, and the pitcher then threw the ball straight at him even after he had stepped out of the batter’s box. And then in the bottom of the 2nd, the Dash pitcher had 2 outs and nobody on, and then did this:
-Hit by Pitch
-Walk to Score a Run
-Walk to Score a Run
After that he was taken out. Then later, in the 5th inning, that same Pelicans pitcher hit two batters (so either he has an anger problem or a control problem).
On our drive back home, we stopped in Atlanta to see a Braves game. They were playing the San Francisco Giants that night. Turner Field is really, really nice. I had been there once before with my parents but I was only two years old at the time so it was like I was going for the first time. It has Monument Grove outside the stadium, which has statues of former Braves players (like Hank Aaron) and all their retired numbers with information about each player. Also, in the parking lot they have the old stadium’s basepaths marked and the part of the wall where Hank Aaron’s record-breaking home run was hit (with a big 715 on it). So even before you step inside, the stadium’s really cool.
And then when we got into the stadium, a man who works for the Braves came up to us and asked us what we wanted to do. So we said we wanted to meet the players, and he took us down on the field for batting practice with about 30 other people, which was awesome. We got to stand behind a rope on the field right behind the batting cage and watch the Braves and then the Giants take BP. We were down there for about an hour. Apparently they do this every game and you can pay $50 to go down there, but we got to do it for free (I’m guessing because they hadn’t sold all of the spaces for that game), which is even better.
After watching batting practice, we went to the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame. It is really nice, and if you go to a Braves game, you should definitely go into the museum. They have all kinds of history about the Braves, from when they were in Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta. It’s very well done.
The game had a really good pitching match-up. For the Braves it was their #1 prospect Tommy Hanson pitching, and for the Giants it was Jonathon Sanchez in his first start after throwing his no-hitter. Hanson struck out 11 and allowed 3 runs in 7 innings, while Sanchez got 8 strikeouts while allowing 3 runs in 6 innings. In the top of the 2nd, Randy Winn had a two-RBI double to put the Giants up 2-0. But in the bottom of the inning, Garrett Anderson hit a solo home run, his 7th, to cut the lead down to 2-1. Then in the bottom of the 3rd, the Braves scored two more on Chipper Jones’ 11th home run of the year that put the braves up 3-2. In the 7th inning, the Giants tied it up at 3 on a Aaron Rowand sacrifice fly that scored Juan Uribe. But in the bottom half of that same inning the Braves scored 6 runs. Matt Diaz hit a 2-RBI triple to score Yunel Escobar and Garrett Anderson with still no out in the inning to bring up Casey Kotchman, who then singled Diaz home. The very next batter was pinch-hitter Ryan Church who came off the bench and hit a two-run home run, his 3rd of the year and 1st as an Atlanta Brave. Later in the inning Brian McCann drove in Nate McLouth with an RBI single to give the Braves a 9-3 lead. Then in the bottom of the 8th, the Braves scored two more runs, one on a Ryan Church RBI single, and another on a Nate McLouth sacrifice fly. The Braves ended up winning the game 11-3. Tommy Hanson got the win to improve his record to 5-0, while Sergio Romo got the loss, to make him 2-1 on the year.
On our last day of driving before getting home, we stopped in Birmingham to tour Rickwood Field, which is an old Negro League ballpark that was used by the Black Barons and is still standing and kept up. It was built in 1910 and is the oldest standing ballpark in the US. The minor league Barons play one game a year there, called the Rickwood Classic, and the rest of the time the stadium is open for people to go in and see it. They have a self-guided tour brochure that helps you know what all to see. It is really awesome that they still keep it standing and in good shape and that they let people go in and see it. They still have all of the old signs on the outfield walls, so it’s fun to look out and see the 1950’s advertisements. They also have the same scoreboard as they used to and they keep the field open, so you can just walk right out onto the playing field. It has to be one of the better old ballpark sites around, if not the best (which I think it must be). I’m really glad I was able to do it, and if you’re ever going to be going through Birmingham, you should definitely go check it out.
It was a great trip and I would like to thank my grandparents for taking me.
Come back next week for #26-30 on my All-Time Rangers List.