After watching an afternoon Appalachian League game in Danville, I drove southwest towards Kannapolis, about two hours away. This suburb of Charlotte hosts the Intimidators, a South Atlantic League team. They play out of Intimidators Stadium, which was recently renamed from CMC-Northeast Stadium. You can see the temporary sign in the shot below. The full name is "Intimidators Stadium supported by Carolinas HealthCare System" which is just silly. Supported by? CMC-Northeast is a facility in the Carolinas HealthCare System, so I don't know why the stadium was renamed, but I expect a more normal moniker to be applied next year.
After the 2000 season, the franchise was purchased by Dale Earnhardt, whose nickname was The Intimidator, and he shared it with the team. Earnhardt died at Daytona just months later, and his corporation sold their ownership share in 2004, but there are still many signs that he was a part of this franchise. The most obvious is the #3 car out front.
The team has also retired the number 3, along with Jackie Robinson's 42 and former Sally League president John Henry Moss' 50.
Another sign you are in NASCAR country: the Nextel Cup Standings are on display. If you want the starting lineups, they are available inside the team store.
Tickets here start at $5 for what is known as Ollie's Cheap Seats, the section down in the right field corner. For some reason, nobody buys these, except me, as I was given Row 1, Seat 1, and I expect that was the only cheap seat sold on the night. Well, nobody sits here at least.
Right next to Ollie's is the $8 GA benches, four sections along the first base line and two along third. All other seats are reserved with seat backs and cup holders and cost $10. As the sun sets behind third base, you should sit on that side so you are not shading your eyes for the first few innings.
You'll notice that the protective netting extends only to the near edge of the dugout, so most seats offer clear views here. One section of the GA seats on the third base side has no benches as it is reserved for those who bring their own folding chairs (below). Also notice the main building with the team store is along the first base side, another relatively rare feature.
The concession stands are located on a plaza behind home plate and include a shaded bar (below) with several choices at reasonable prices ($4.50 for a 16 oz. premium draft). There is excellent variety in the food options here, with Dale's Mater Sandwich the unique item. It is just a tomato on toasted white bread with salt, pepper, and mayo but at $2 it is worth trying, especially as it is made fresh when you order it. Let's be honest, they can't screw it up. The snack shop has healthy items too, such as fruit, hummus, carrots, mixed nuts, etc, all for a buck or two, though as it was near the end of the season, much of the selection was sold out. It was also two-fer-Tuesday and hot dogs were two for one ($3) so a full meal could be had for $10. As always, minor league baseball remains a bargain.
There was little else here, including fans. Despite perfect weather, only 1,473 showed up for this one and you could sit wherever you pleased. One of the best ballparks I visited on my trip, mainly because I had a clear view from the seats above the dugouts. This whole protective netting debate is pissing me off to no end and I know that as the years pass, more and more ballparks will have no clear views in the infield, so I appreciated this chance to watch baseball the way it was meant to be seen. Expect a post shortly on this topic.
The Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore) were the visitors and sent Dariel Delgado from Cuba (above) while Kannapolis (CHW) replied with Luis Martinez (Chicago's 29th prospect, which isn't saying much, below).
In the bottom of the first, Delgado hit Michael Suiter (24th round, 2014) with one out, beginning what would be a recurring theme on the evening. Two singles plated Suiter but Alexander Simon (below) struck out and a fly out ended the threat.
Martinez was OK through 3, but in the fourth, he hit Jomar Reyes to lead things off. A double from Logan Uxa (32nd, 2013, below) pushed Reyes to third and a single from Cameron Kneeland (UDFA) tied the game. Yermin Mercedes grounded into a double play but another run scored.
In the sixth, Reyes was again hit by a pitch leading off. This time, Uxa struck out but Kneeland and Mercedes walked as did the next batter, Elier Leyva, who garnered an RBI without hitting the ball. Martinez was replaced by Brad Salgado (38th, 20109 who promptly hit TJ Olesczuk to bring home yet another run. A sacrifice fly followed to complete the scoring. In the 7th, Uxa was hit by a pitch, the fifth of the game, but he did not score. That's the final below. Five hit batsmen and only 12 hits; a typical minor league affair.
When I visited Delmarva, I was a bit embarrassed that I did not know exactly what Delmarva meant, but two fans nearby me were also perplexed. I'm glad to know that the term Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia peninsula) is not in common use outside that area and many Americans are not aware of it either.
I'm heading to New Britain to see the final game at New Britain Stadium tomorrow as the Rock Cats will become the Hartford Yard Goats next season. Check back Monday for a recap of that one. Unless I forget my camera.
Update: I forgot my camera. So no recap of that game, since the stadium is no longer in use as a minor league facility. It was a great game, New Britain winning 7-5 on a 15th inning homer from Rockies #23 prospect Jordan Patterson.