Results tagged ‘ North Carolina ’
Once the 2014 season rolls around, BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem will not be the only such stadium in North Carolina. A new BB&T Ballpark is nearing completion in Charlotte, and it will officially open on April 11 of next year.
The similarities between the two BB&T Ballparks do not end with the name. Both the Dash and the Knights regarded these stadiums as the centerpiece of a move to downtown. Winston-Salem and Charlotte are both associated with the White Sox minor league system, too.
Scott Brown, the Knights’ General Manager of Baseball Operations, took some time to chat about the ballpark and much more. His thoughts are below.
Brian Boesch: How is BB&T Ballpark progressing?
Scott Brown: Great. It’s about 80 percent done and still on target to be significantly completed by the end of the calendar year. It might bleed into January a little bit, but we should be in our offices by February 1.
Brian: Sometimes, minor league stadiums are not ready when its debut season begins. How important was a completed stadium to you and the Knights for your Opening Day?
Scott: It’s a mammoth leap heading from Fort Mill, S.C., 15 miles north to Uptown, and we certainly didn’t want to handicap ourselves. We had the luxury of time so that the building could start while we were still occupying Knights Stadium.
It was the goal to get it done early, and I think it’s going to bode well for us and for our fans, and that’s also helped us on the marketing and sales side. People can see this structure coming out of the ground and see the grass in now and realize that this project that had been talked about for a decade-plus is coming to fruition.
Brian: The Dash’s move downtown was instrumental to the organization, and you saw how that happened when you worked in the Carolina League with Myrtle Beach. Have you been able to gauge how positively this move will affect the Knights?
Scott: It gets us to the center of the Charlotte metropolis region, so it puts us back in the middle so we can attract people from all over. Uptown Charlotte is a vibrant, growing area. A lot of people are choosing to live in the uptown area within walking distance of the ballpark. Those two things are really going to help our cause.
People are used to coming to Uptown for Panthers games, for Bobcats and soon-to-be Hornets games, for Checkers games. This completes the year-round sports cycle and makes Uptown an even bigger destination point for everybody in the region.
Brian: How much have you learned from watching other organizations build a new ballpark?
Scott: I think sometimes in this business we are “glass half full” most of the time, but I think when it comes to ballpark construction, the conversations with the people who have built ballparks recently are more about, “What went wrong?” and “What mistakes can we avoid?” So, I think we all become better as things evolve. You know there’s going to be something you missed, something that isn’t exactly the way you want it, but I think with each opening of each ballpark, they become better and better. We’ve benefitted from the knowledge and experience of others.
Brian: What are some of the neat features for fans to look for in 2014 and beyond?
Scott: It’s kind of similar to the Winston-Salem BB&T Ballpark with the skyline view. I really enjoyed that city feel to that ballpark, but also the view. In Charlotte, we’re even closer to the skyscrapers in Uptown, so it’s a tremendous view. Even when the lights are off, it’s almost like a starry sky you’re looking out to, so I think that’s one of the real benefits.
Just like BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem, we’ll have the walk-around concourse, which is more of the fad with designs now where you can stroll around the ballpark and get every vantage point. I’m really excited about our video package. We’ll have the widest screen in Minor League Baseball, along with a ribbon board.
We will also have some great club areas. We will have an upper club and a lower club, and one of the more unique features are the two dugout suites. Those are all real cool things. All of the ingredients are coming together to make a great buzz, and people are really excited about the opening.
Scott: It has been overwhelmingly positive. We wanted to keep the Knights because Charlotte is called the Queen City, and the Knights tie into the whole royalty, medieval times type of feel that we’re trying to get. We felt like it was a perfect time to freshen up our brand.
We liked our old logo, but we wanted, as we moved Uptown and started to get exposed to even more of our fans, to get it so that when you walk down the streets and saw one of our hats, you said immediately, “That’s the Charlotte Knights.” That will take some time to get to that point, but we’re real pleased we changed our color scheme.
There’s not another affiliated Minor League Baseball team that has that color scheme. We love to copy off each other and steal ideas, and, not by design, but by end result, we ended up with a unique look and something that we are really proud of.
Brian: The White Sox have to be giddy that their top three affiliates (Charlotte, Birmingham and Winston-Salem) have brand new ballparks, don’t they?
Scott: There’s no doubt. They’re so excited. Knights Stadium treated us well for 24 years. It was an adequate baseball facility, but as designs and construction have evolved, it really kind of fell behind the times. The White Sox had stuck with us and worked with us in an older ballpark, which we didn’t have a lot of the amenities that you’re looking for in professional baseball. Their patience has paid off. They’re going to be a part of this, and we expect a full contingent of White Sox folks to be on hand for Opening Night.
Brian: You probably can’t tell me what these things are, but do you have any other big announcements on the horizon?
Scott: Nothing earth-shattering, at least for the next week or two. Then, maybe after that, we might have another big announcement. We’re constantly working on it, wearing our media guys out. You know those media guys. We don’t feel like they work hard enough in the offseason, so we want to keep them occupied.
That final sarcastic jab aside, I always enjoy catching up with Scott, who is one of the hardest workers in baseball. I can assure you that the final product will be great come April 11 in Charlotte.
Good luck to our White Sox brethren in Charlotte as another BB&T Ballpark is only a few months away from completion.
The Winston-Salem Journal has always been very loyal to the Dash. The Journal brings a writer to every Dash home game, and it is a pleasure working with all of their staff writers. The publication produces fair, unbiased coverage of the Dash and distributes it to the masses in our area.
Before his recent retirement, Lenox Rawlings was one of the Journal’s sports stars. While Lenox did not cover many Dash games this season, he visited BB&T Ballpark for a few special features. His All-Star Game column remains my favorite written piece from this year’s Midsummer Classic in Winston-Salem. Lenox’s simple-yet-effective lede from this playoff story gives any baseball fan goosebumps.
Yesterday, the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association announced that Lenox earned the “Sportswriter of the Year” award for North Carolina. Not a bad retirement present.
I have had the chance to speak with Lenox briefly, and he has been nothing but kind to me. I wish him a happy retirement. It’s great to have such a great writer here in the Winston-Salem area.
By the way, the NSSA also announces a “Sportscaster of the Year” for each state, and David Jackson, the Voice of Appalachian State athletics, earned the award. He is a former intern with us from 1999. Congrats to David, too!
Southern Division Championship Series
Myrtle Beach Pelicans at Winston-Salem Dash
Friday, September 7 — 7:00 p.m.
Game 3 — Series tied 1-1
GAME 3 BACKGROUND:
Winston-Salem stayed alive in the best-of-three SDCS with a 5-3 victory over Myrtle Beach in Game 2 Thursday night at BB&T Ballpark. Winston rallied with three in the home half of the seventh to take the lead for good. Courtney Hawkins’ leadoff long ball evened the score, and Marcus Semien’s two-run double four batters later proved to be the game-winning knock. As a result, the Dash and Pelicans will play for a Mills Cup Championship Series ticket tonight.
Winston-Salem — RHP Chris Bassitt (5-4, 3.66 ERA): Bassitt, a converted reliever, takes to the hill tonight with the Dash’s season on the line. Bassitt had not been a regular member of a rotation since high school before his 10 starts in 2012. As a starter, Bassitt finished the regular season with a 4-2 record and a 4.25 ERA. The former Akron Zip had success against the Pelicans, amassing nine and a third scoreless frames over four efforts, only one of which was a start.
Myrtle Beach — RHP Nick McBride (2-3, 3.76 ERA): Myrtle Beach counters with McBride, a Lewisville, N.C., native and a Ragsdale High School product. The Dash beat McBride August 25 in Winston-Salem, his only appearance back in the Triad. McBride surrendered five runs on eight hits in six and a third innings in what was a Dash victory.
- Winston-Salem has had success when playing for a series victory in 2012. Winston went 9-3 in rubber matches this season, which includes a 5-1 mark at home in such situations.
- Since Winston-Salem won the 2003 Carolina League crown, the franchise was 0-4 in playoff elimination games until Thursday. As a result, the Dash will play in Winston’s seventh winner-take-all in franchise history. Winston-Salem is 3-3 in its previous six affairs. This is the first deciding playoff game for the franchise since 2004, when Kinston defeated Winston in the SDCS.
- The Dash had not scored more than one run in an inning during the postseason until the seventh inning of Game 2. Winston-Salem has not played consecutive games without a multi-run inning since July 2-3 during a series in Frederick, a span of 58 games which is still in progress thanks to the Dash’s three-run seventh.
- Dash outfielder Courtney Hawkins went yard for the second straight playoff game Thursday. His homer in the fifth inning of Game 1 broke a scoreless tie, while his bomb less than 24 hours ago knotted the score. Including his regular season work, Chicago’s top pick in June is 8-for-25 (.320) with three home runs and four RBI at the High-A level.
- Winston-Salem slugger Dan Black took home the Carolina League’s MVP award, but he is 0-for-8 in the playoffs and just 1-for-20 in his last five games since August 31. During the regular season, Black only posted back-to-back hitless games four different times. He placed second in the CL with a .315 average. It is safe to say the Big Black Bear is due.
- Dash reliever Taylor Thompson needed 34 pitches to get five outs last night, so his availability for tonight’s winner-take-all clash is certainly up in the air. Thompson had a 0.55 ERA during the second half of the season, and he earned the save last night after escaping jams in the eighth and ninth. He is this team’s best reliever, but can he pitch in the biggest game of the season?
- The Dash posted the best overall record (87-51-1) and home mark (48-23) during the regular season among the 120 full-season minor league teams. Don’t underestimate the fight of a highly-successful squad. The Dash certainly proved their battle-back mentality last night.
AN EYE ON THE NDCS:
The Northern Division Championship Series will also come down to a Game 3 tonight in Lynchburg. The road team has posted a blowout victory in each of the series’ first two contests. After the Hillcats blew out the Blue Rocks in Delaware in Game 1, Wilmington got revenge in Lynchburg with a 12-3 win, which included three innings of three or more runs, to keep its season alive. Tonight, the Blue Crew sends Leondy Perez (5-4, 3.74 ERA) to the mound against fellow right-hander Aaron Northcraft (10-11, 3.98 ERA).
Dash fans can catch the club’s quest for a 12th Mills Cup by tuning in here. Fans are encouraged to tweet @WSDashBaseball and use the Dash’s official playoff hashtag: #Dash12. The Pre-Game Dash begins at 6:40 p.m. and features a chat with Marcus Semien and a look back at the Dash’s huge seventh inning last night.
Thousands of minor league baseball players jump from one affiliate to another during the course of the season. It is rare for a player to join a team so close to not only his hometown, but his college as well.
One of those rare instances happened today with the promotion of catcher Jeremy Dowdy, a Raleigh native and an Appalachian
League State product, to the Dash.
Dowdy signed with the White Sox as an undrafted free agent June 12 and began his professional career with rookie-level Bristol in the Appalachian League. He hit .412 (7-for-17) with three RBI and two runs scored in five games.
Although Dowdy has only played in five of the B-Sox’s first 14 games, this is a common practice at that level. Most Appalachian League squads carry at least three catchers, and Bristol had four when Dowdy was on board.
According to the Mountaineers’ website, Dowdy is one of only three players in school history to play in at least 200 games. He is among the university’s all-time top 10 with 732 at-bats, 43 doubles, 127 RBI and 86 walks.
For the first time this season, the Dash have three catchers on the roster. Mike Blanke and Miguel Gonzalez have been with the Dash since the start of the season, and they will gladly take on the third catcher. In the minor leagues, catchers are responsible for any bullpen catching or pre-game sides. With the heat on full blast within the league, a respite here and there will help immensely.
The Dash wrap up their quick three-game road trip tonight at 7:05 against Lynchburg. Pre-game starts at 6:50 here. Talk to you then.
Many sports fans will be focused on this year’s NBA Draft, which takes place tonight in Newark, N.J. How would the Dash fit into this year’s draft class? Let’s find out:
Trayce Thompson = Kentucky F Anthony Davis
The top prospect on the Dash’s roster, Thompson comes from a basketball background. His father Mychal was the first overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft by Portland, and his brothers Klay and Mychel both have NBA experience. Davis will almost certainly join the list of top overall picks tonight when New Orleans makes the first selection.
Carlos Sanchez = Florida SG Bradley Beal
Sanchez is thriving as a 19-year-old in the Carolina League, while Beal is the target of many teams in the top 5 of the NBA Draft despite the fact that he turned 19 today. Both of these men have certainly piqued scouts’ interests.
Brady Shoemaker = Kentucky SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
One word describes both of these men: motor. Both Shoemaker and Kidd-Gilchrist work extremely hard and never stop hustling when in the heat of battle. Plus, they are very productive in their respective sports. After all, Shoemaker is a Triple Crown candidate, while MKG is likely a top 5 pick.
Juan Silverio = Syracuse SG Dion Waiters
Both of these guys have plenty of potential while still having some untapped potential. Waiters plays the game with a smooth confidence, which is how Silverio mans third base. Plus, these two look very similar.
Jake Petricka = North Carolina F Harrison Barnes
Both of these young men have been highly touted, yet they have also had to go through some scrutiny based on their play lately. The reality is that both Petricka and Barnes will be solid talents at the next level. They just need to properly develop their abilities.
Michael Earley = Weber State PG Damian Lillard
Earley and Lillard were unknowns to Dash fans and NBA fans, respectively, a year ago. Today, both are extremely important to the fans involved. Earley earned a starting spot on the Carolina League All-Star squad after skipping Low-A, while Lillard was a late bloomer for a mid-major program. Earley is now on the radar of folks in the CL, while Lillard is projected as a top 10 pick in tonight’s draft.
Dan Black = Connecticut C Andre Drummond
This one is pretty simple. Black is big for baseball standards (6’5″, 240 lbs.), and Drummond is a banger inside the paint (6’10”, 270 lbs.).
– Brian and Mike