Results tagged ‘ Winston-Salem ’

Update on the new BB&T Ballpark

A second BB&T Ballpark opens in April of 2014 in Charlotte.

A second BB&T Ballpark opens in April of 2014 in Charlotte.

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.

charlotte-knights-new-logo-and-wordmarkBrian: How have fans responded to the Knights’ new logo and color scheme?

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.

- Brian

Baseball in Winston-Salem yesterday

Even though the Dash were in Myrtle Beach last night, there was a Minor League Baseball game in Winston-Salem on Sunday. The same weather pattern that has allowed the Dash to only take batting practice twice on the road since June 28 has also played tricks on the Burlington Royals.

Burlington, Kansas City’s Appalachian League affiliate, had played just four innings of baseball from Wednesday through Saturday. Rain had decimated Burlington Athletic Stadium to the point that a helicopter was brought in as an attempt to dry the field. Check it out.

Photo courtesy of the Burlington Royals

Photo courtesy of the Burlington Royals

Thus, the B-Royals worked out a deal with Wake Forest University to play a game at the Dash’s old stadium, Ernie Shore Field. The plan was to play a split-site doubleheader, with one game in Winston and the second in Burlington, but wet grounds forced another postponement after the Royals fell to Kingsport 6-4 yesterday afternoon.

Burlington and Kingsport will try to play a twin bill this afternoon beginning at 3, but this one will take place in another different location.

 

Bob’s tweet about the “Carolina Royals” is facetious, but they certainly deserve that name thanks to their season. What a wild week.

- Brian

Former Warthog, MLB All-Star Lee retires

(Photo via Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images).

(Photo via Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images).

One of the most successful players in Winston-Salem baseball history, outfielder Carlos Lee announced his retirement on Thursday, which happened to be his 37th birthday.

A three-time All-Star in the big leagues, Lee starred on the 1997 Winston-Salem Warthogs, who finished the regular season at 66-74. He hit .317 with 17 homers and 82 RBIs over 139 games.

Lee debuted with the White Sox in 1999 and finished seventh in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. After six seasons with the White Sox, the Panama native joined the Brewers in advance of the 2005 season, which happened to be Chicago’s World Series season.

After a year and a half in Milwaukee, “El Caballo” played with the Rangers down the stretch in 2006 before spending the next six years with Houston. He was traded midway through his final campaign in the big leagues (2012) to Miami.

Lee just missed out on the White Sox title season, and he joined the Astros right after their tremendous run in the middle of last decade. As a result, he only played in the playoffs once (2000).

Congratulations to Lee on a tremendous career, during which he competed in the Midsummer Classic three times (2005-07). He was a career .285 hitter with 358 home runs in 2,099 games.

- Brian

More Countdown Fun

I’ve had a blast coming up with the daily countdown to the 2013 season. Every number from 100 to 53 has been represented, and we went through some of them a few weeks back.

If you have missed any, 100-86 can be found here, and 85-53 is available below:

85 – In ’85, Winston-Salem won the CL title despite a regular season record of just 58-81. (Still counts!)

Keenyn Walker is a speedster with some gaudy stolen base numbers.

Keenyn Walker is a speedster with some gaudy stolen base numbers.

84 – This past season, right-handed pitching prospect Jake Petricka struck out 84 men while with the Dash.

83 – 1983 was the final year of the Winston-Salem Red Sox, the team with the most wins (1635) & Carolina League titles (5) in Winston-Salem history.

82 – Five years after playing in Winston-Salem, Hall of Famer Wade Boggs made his MLB debut in 1982.

81 – Mike Blanke, who earned a non-roster invite to spring training, had 81 hits a year ago in Winston.

80 – In the Dash’s 80th PA of the game, Chase Blackwood’s RBI single gave the Dash a 4-3, 20-inning win on May 19, 2010, against Myrtle Beach.

79 – Bill Slack, the winningest manager in W-S and CL history, was the 1979 Manager of the Year.

78 – Winston-Salem hit a league-best .278 in 2012.

77 – 2011 first rounder Keenyn Walker has 77 stolen bases in just 165 minor league games.

The Dash played 76 games on this beautiful field last year.

The Dash played 76 games on this beautiful field last year.

76 – The Dash played 76 total games at beautiful BB&T Ballpark last season.

75 – Chris Bassitt struck out 75 in his 91 innings last season in Winston-Salem.

74 – Fan-favorite Dan Black led the Dash with 74 hits at BB&T Ballpark in his MVP season.

73 – All-Star Michael Earley drove in 73 runs with the Dash in 2012 (T-4th in the CL).

72 – On July 4th, 2012, a single-game record 7,285 fans enjoyed a Dash game at BB&T Ballpark.

71 – MLB Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson started 71 games in 1956, the final season of his amazing 10-year career (this was the fact on January 31, Robinson’s birthday).

BB&T Ballpark hosted a record crowd on July 4 of last season.

BB&T Ballpark hosted a record crowd on July 4 of last season.

70 – In 70 innings pitched with the White Sox last year, rookie Hector Santiago posted a 3.33 ERA.

69 – In game 69 of 2012, the Dash clinched the 1st-half title with a 9-5 win at Wilmington June 16.

68 – On July 17, 1968, Ed Phillips tossed the first perfect game in CL history. It is still Winston-Salem’s only perfecto in franchise history.

67 – In 67 innings in Winston-Salem last season, Terance Marin recorded an impressive 2.42 earned run average.

66 – Reliever Kevin Vance boasted a 1.66 ERA in 11 outings with Winston-Salem in 2012.

65 – Winston-Salem was 65-23 when hitting at least one home run in 2012. This record was the best on the circuit.

64 – If you attended every regular season game at BB&T Ballpark in 2012, you watched an even 640 innings of baseball!

63 – Winston-Salem’s single-season batting average record is .363, set by 8-year MLB vet Ray Jablonski in 1951.

62 – All-Star Matt Heidenreich whiffed 62 batters with the Dash before a July trade to the Houston organization.

The Dash's offense did plenty of this in 2012.

The Dash’s offense did plenty of this in 2012.

61 – Winston led the Carolina League with a 61-22 mark when scoring first in 2012.

60 – In 1960, Ed Olivares hit 35 home runs for Winston-Salem, which still remains a single-season franchise record

59 – Both Marcus Semien and Brady Shoemaker drove in 59 runs for Winston-Salem last season.

58 – Carlos Sanchez, who is currently in big league camp with the White Sox, scored 58 times for the Dash in ’12.

57 – 57 different players suited up for the Dash in 2012, and they posted full-season Minor League Baseball’s best mark (87-51)!

56 – Outfielder Keenyn Walker led all White Sox farmhands with a combined 56 stolen bases between Low-A Kannapolis and Winston-Salem last year.

55 – Since becoming the Dash prior to the ’09 season, Winston boasts a .554 winning percentage (317-255). This includes regular season and postseason games.

54 – Trayce Thompson hit .254 with CL-bests in homers (22) and RBI (90) with the Dash a year ago.

53 – The Dash boasted 5 year-end All-Stars (Dan Black, Michael Earley, Carlos Sanchez, Brady Shoemaker and Trayce Thompson) and 3 midseason All-Stars (Earley, Shoemaker and Matt Heidenreich).

That’s another installment of “Countdown Catch-Up.” Stay tuned to our social media sites (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for the rest of our daily countdowns. The home opener is only 52 days away!

- Brian

Local Sportswriter Honored

Photo courtesy of the Winston-Salem Journal.

Photo courtesy of the Winston-Salem Journal.

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.

Congratulations, Lenox!

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!

- Brian

The Weekend In Pictures

It was an eventful weekend for the Dash. From our first “Breakfast with Santa” event to the 22nd-annual Winston-Salem Jaycees Downtown Holiday Parade, we recap the weekend in photos below.

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Santa’s setup in the Womble Carlyle Club was pretty nifty.

parade2

Bolt found a new best friend!

parade5

This Bolt character is pretty popular with the ladies, too.

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Bolt waving to all of his fans.

parade1

Thanks to Russ, Jay, Bolt, Kayla, Brandon, Matt, Darren and Chris for their extra effort this weekend.

Hope you ran into the Dash at some point this weekend! Have a great Monday.

- Brian

Different Circumstances, Same Results

The Dash were reserved in their celebration after last night’s division-clinching win (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Last night’s division-clinching victory was much different than the Dash’s first-half triumph.

In June, the Dash jumped out to a big lead before holding on for the win. Last night, Lynchburg’s three-run lead was an early obstacle.

In June, Winston was playing some of its best baseball of the season when it clinched at Wilmington. Last night, the Dash were aiming to avoid their longest losing streak of the season, which still sits at a meager three games.

In June, the Dash needed to best a struggling Wilmington squad on the road in order to knock down a division crown. Last night, the Blue Rocks completed a sweep of second-place Myrtle Beach to help the Dash to another division title.

In June, Erik Johnson and Keenyn Walker were in Kannapolis with a middle-of-the-road South Atlantic League squad. Last night, Johnson earned the win and Walker made a spectacular game-winning catch.

In June, Taylor Thompson was on the disabled list after a tough first half. Last night, he was wrapping up his 12th save and adding to his remarkable second-half resume.

In June, the Dash stormed into the clubhouse for a special celebration. Last night, more than 4,000 fans at BB&T Ballpark applauded as their hometown team simply slapped hands in the middle of the diamond.

In June, the jury was still out about the Mills Cup favorite. Last night, the Dash officially assumed that large target following their 84th victory.

However, all of these differences still resulted in one undeniable similarity between June 16 and August 30.

Winston-Salem had once against clinched the best record in the Carolina League during the current half.

Winston is two-thirds of the way to a clean CL sweep in 2012. However, this next two-week journey is the defining period of the season. A championship is on the line, and the Dash will fight with Myrtle Beach, Lynchburg and Wilmington for the league’s greatest prize.

That’s why last night was so different after the game. There was no need to celebrate, because the important part of the season begins in five days.

And it will kick off at BB&T Ballpark, the home of the Carolina League’s overwhelming favorite.

- Brian

Dash With Us On The Bus

Have you ever wondered what life on the road in the Carolina League is like? Let us take you on the bus with the Dash after a recent road trip back from Wilmington last month.

The Dash play 70 games each year at BB&T Ballpark. The rest of the season, though, Winston-Salem’s favorite team hits the road to one of seven different cities in five states. The longest trip is north to Wilmington, Del., where the Blue Rocks call home.

Earlier this month, the Dash took three of four from the Blue Rocks in Wilmington. Here’s the journey back from the First State to the Triad.

4:57 p.m.: More than three hours after first pitch, the Dash nail down a 6-5, 10-inning victory over the Blue Rocks. After their victorious handshakes on the field, the players and coaching staff heads to the clubhouse to shower, eat and pack.

This food didn’t have a chance against a hungry baseball team.

5:29 p.m.: I make it down to the clubhouse and notice that about half of the players are ready to leave. A few others are getting changed, and a handful of guys have to help load the bus. Some players have a certain bag for which they are responsible, which is the last task before we can embark on our journey.

5:42 p.m.: The bags are loaded onto the bus, and the doors are locked. We are ready to go.

5:47 p.m.: After a quick check to make sure everyone is here, our bus driver Calvin starts the bus and begins the 430-mile journey back to Winston-Salem.

6:05 p.m.: At the exact time two other Carolina League games are beginning, the Dash have already hit the road and are stopping for a quick meal after the team crushed the food available to them in the clubhouse. Normally, we just stop at a gas station, but because of the long trip, we pull into a nice rest stop with plenty of food options.

The bus is packed with players on top and bags on the bottom.

6:26 p.m.: With dinner in hand, the players load up once again, and we are off after the quickest pit stop we’ve made all season.

6:34 p.m.: Dash first baseman Dan Black, other than being known as the “Big Black Bear,” is normally the man who decides what movie we watch on the bus, but Michael Earley beat him to it for the first movie. We begin watching Safe House, starring Denzel Washington.

7:40 p.m.: Our journey back from Wilmington is the only one where traffic can throw off our estimated time of arrival. Even though it is a Sunday evening, congestion a few miles outside Baltimore causes us to slow down for 15 minutes.

8:23 p.m.: The movie credits crawl on the screen for no more than 30 seconds before Black is switching movies. He did not let Earley beat him to the DVD player this time. Veteran move.

9:32 p.m.: The sun has set, and most of the bus is dark. Only Dash strength and conditioning coach Shawn Powell and I are on our computer and using the light above our heads. I am preparing All-Star Game material, and Shawn (one of the most interesting men in the Carolina League) is likely working on his Anthony Davis scouting report for the sports website to which he contributes. Shawn is an NBA Draft guru, and the big event is right around the corner.

10:13 p.m.: For the first time this season, we have made two stops on a single trip. Even on a Sunday night, Calvin navigates us to an area with three different fast food options. They don’t call him the best bus driver in the Carolina League for nothing!

10:48 p.m.: After watching most of the fourth quarter of the NBA Finals game between the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder while in McDonalds, the team heads back on the bus. Even though we left before 6 p.m., the GPS says we have four more hours to go. That’s the down side of multiple stops.

11:12 p.m.: It’s nap time for me. Many players are still awake watching the end of the second movie, but the number of players who fall asleep will increase quickly.

By the end of most trips, the only light in the bus is from computers, like this light near strength and conditioning coach Shawn Powell.

11:54 p.m.: I fall asleep.

12:13 a.m.: I wake up.

12:27 a.m.: I fall asleep.

12:58 a.m.: I wake up. As you can tell, the bus isn’t the easiest place to catch some Z’s.

1:44 a.m.: Some people have a certain place near their home that lets them know they are close. For me, that is the drive through Greensboro, which is finally here.

2:03 a.m.: I see the Winston Tower! What an awesome and relieving sight it is.

2:09 a.m.: Calvin stops the bus right in front of the clubhouse entrance, and our trip is over. It does not take the players long to drop off their baseball bag, grab their personal bag and head home. Normally, most of the clubhouse is empty 15 minutes after arriving from a long road trip.

2:47 a.m.: After 10 innings, 430 miles, two stops, three movies, I finally arrive home and quickly crawl into bed. Even though the trip was long, it came after a victory, and we didn’t have any bus issues. All in all, it was a success, but you have to leave now because I’m going to sleep. Thanks for tagging along!

- Brian

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