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home : sports : local sports July 19, 2019

4/29/2019 8:08:00 AM
Minor League Baseball--Making The Most With Less

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

Many, many years ago, I saw Al Oliver, a seven-time major league all-star, play for the Gastonia Pirates baseball team at Sims Legion Park.  Nowadays, Gastonia doesn't have a regular minor league team, but the Gastonia Grizzlies, a collegiate summer baseball team, plays there.  Their 2019 season begins May 30th. To attract fans to their games, the Grizzlies are known for unusual promotions--Garbage Can Nachos, Dunk the GM, a Grandma Beauty Pageant, Dig for the Diamond, Salute to Underwear Night, Flatulence Fun Night, and Midnight Madness Night. The Grizzlies are also known for their fireworks shows.

Up the road, the Hickory Crawdads are a class A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.  They play their games at L.P. Franz Stadium in Hickory.  Their season started in early April, and while they're on the road this weekend, they'll play home games against teams from Asheville and Charleston next Wednesday May 8th thru Tuesday May 13th.  Tickets to their games run from $8-$15 and they offer family deals, too.

Photographer Bill Ward recently went to a Knights game, not just to see the Charlotte team play, but to meet Major League All-Star and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, who played the early part of his major league career with Bill's favorite team, the Chicago Cubs.  

In fairness, the Knights ballpark in uptown Charlotte is a cut above the stadiums where the Crawdads and Grizzlies play, and they, too, have fireworks shows and other special promotions.  

While a trip to Atlanta to see the Braves will likely include for many an overnight stay and obviously the cost of the travel, you can enjoy a family outing (and possibly see a future major leaguer) at those venues in Hickory, Gastonia and Charlotte.  

Football and the Super Bowl may have surpassed baseball in tv viewership, but baseball is still the de facto national sport.  

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