Than to be in Carolina watching baseball.

Coming to you live and in person (okay, in cyberspace) from Durham Bulls Athletic Park (fondly known as the “DBAP” to distinguish it from its predecessor, the “DAP,” Durham Athletic Park) as the host Bulls take on the Charlotte Knights in an all-North Carolina International League showdown. Blue skies, sunshine, about 70-something degrees.

A little slice of heaven.

But before I continue, please let me point your attention to the links on the right. They are there courtesy of my new best friend, Firefox. Someday I might learn to actually listen to people who are more knowledgeable than I am when they make technical suggestions. My co-workers and my husband have been trying to convince me to download Firefox for awhile, basically every time I whine about my slow computer and lousy connectivity. Of course, I’m still the dinosaur on dial-up (until Friday when Comcast comes to install high speed internet!).

However, I’d been baffling even our techiest techies with my inability to install/fix links. Until now. Firefox has freed me. I’m gonna be a link-adding fool, I tell you. PLUS it will apparently make it easier for me to watch our own games online. I may NEVER get out of my desk chair now …

So go check out some of my links! Nothing quite expresses your true identity like the links you post, right? Which makes me … um … a hot dog-eating, soy sauce-loving, snarky obscure music fanatic with a slightly necrophiliac tendency. All righty then.

But back to baseball. Drove about 300 miles down I-95/I-85 with the torrential rain following me pretty much every tread-track of the way. Spent the last two afternoons/evenings over at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, home of the Double-A Carolina Mudcats, to work on a feature package on their outstanding center field prospect, Cameron Maybin, which you’ll be able to read at The Farms Almanac starting on Friday, April 25.

Five County is definitely one of my favorite stadiums. Sure, it doesn’t have quite the same architectural charm of, say, a DBAP. Sure, location-wise it doesn’t have quite the downtown appeal of, well, a DBAP. But it has a soft spot in my heart for several reasons.

For one thing, Five County may have the best ballpark food in the Minors. As far as its concession stands go, it has everything from fantastic Carolina barbecue (my weakness) to catfish sandwiches (their logo is a catfish) as well as all of the more traditional favorites. But it also features a gourmet-quality full-service restaurant called Cattails which is open year-round.

For another, you gotta love their mascot Muddy Mudcat. You might think there really isn’t anything cute and cuddly about a catfish but they managed to make Muddy adorable. On Tuesday night, as the torrential rains dwindled into scattered showers, he roamed the stands wearing a jaunty yellow poncho and rain cap.

I also got to witness something I have heard about for years but thought was one of those urban legends until Tuesday night: a batboy being sent out in search of the key to the batters’ box.

It’s one of those rites of passage that I thought might, by this point, be apocryphal. Could anyone still fall for such a ruse in this day and age? Apparently so. For several innings, I watched this kid running back and forth between the dugouts, between the clubhouses (located at the far end of each outfield foul line), up to the radio broadcaster’s booth, even to the chef at Cattails, in search of that elusive key. I won’t mention his name here and I won’t out the player who sent him on his fruitless search (though I will say it WASN’T Maybin, who himself was a batboy for the Asheville Tourists for three years as a teenager).

But at one point, I saw him carrying a small box down the right field line and could not figure out what that was about. Turns out, when he asked the Mudcats clubhouse attendant for the key, the clubbie told him he didn’t have it but asked him if he could please find him some left-handed curveballs and handed him the box to collect them in. Double whammy.

I wasn’t around when he was finally let in on the joke. But I am told he took it like a good sport. I am hoping the players tipped him well last night, Especially … well, player that sent him on the search, you know who you are! And so do I.

To save your eyes and sanity, I am going to sign off for now, but will return to blog tomorrow all about Durham, since the parks, old and new, deserve an entry of their own.


One comment


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