On the Road: In Gwinnett To Win It

I didn’t utilize the above headline simply because it rhymed, because as a recent comment on this post points out it doesn’t rhyme (unless you want to pronounced “it” as “et”, as I often do).

No, I really was in Gwinnett in order to win it. “It”, in this case, being the “Termites In Your Pants” between-inning contest. This exhibition of bug-catching skill takes place nightly at Coolray Field, and on Saturday I was the chosen contestant.

Before playing, the amicable on-field MC explained the rules.


In a nutshell, I had to put on a pair of oversized pants and then catch stuffed termites in said pants. These termites were launched into the air via a slingshot wielded by a member of the team’s promotional staff. I was going to be given five opportunities, and had to catch at least three to win.




And win I did, catching three over my first four opportunities.

You’ve been a great audience. Good night!

I kid, of course. For all we are saying good night to right now are my innate narcissistic tendencies. I’ve got plenty more to include on Gwinnett’s Coolray Field — a truly beautiful facility that offers beaucoup amenities and plenty of room in which to move.

It is also offers one of the best sandwiches you’ll find anywhere: the Knucksie (named in honor of Atlanta Braves knuckleballer Phil Neikro). It was created by executive chef Blake Stembridge, who is “Pro Chef II Certified”. I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I believe this fact illustrates the G-Braves’ proclivity for transcending expectations. Yes, I know I’m a sycophant by nature, but Coolray Field is really and truly an outstanding Minor League Baseball experience.

So anyway, the Knucksie: “House smoked pulled BBQ pork piled high with pickle chips, caramelized onions, two kinds of BBQ sauce, and coleslaw, and served on a toasted corn muffin.”

I got one:


Now that I’ve talked about food and termites, let’s move on to the stadium itself. G-Braves general manager North Johnson gave me a tour, starting in a private drinking and dining section reserved for members of the “Home Plate Club” (a season ticket seating area located directly behind home plate).

One of the coolest things about the Home Plate Club is that it includes a window that directly looks into the batting cages. When I walked by, Freddie Freeman and Jordan Schafer were getting some work in.


Moving on, we checked out the home clubhouse and weight room:



Traveling upstairs, this area gives those watching the game from a suite the chance to eat, drink, and commingle:

Gwinnett_suite area.JPG

The Best Seats in the House:

Gwinnett_rocking chairs.JPG

Suite Kitchen:


The production room featured some state-of-the-art equipment, which this photograph largely fails to convey. I do my best:


The scoreboard:


Those who work in Minor League Baseball are used to cramped working conditions, making the G-Braves’ digs capable of inducing considerable pangs of jealousy. Check out the break room and conference room:


Gwinnett_conference room.JPG

Let’s move on to the out of doors, where the visitor’s bullpen featured a most colorful target:


There turned out to be an excellent crowd for Saturday’s game:


They watched the visiting Scranton-Wilkes/Barre Yankees edge the Braves by a score of 2-1.


But despite the disappointing result, there was plenty of entertainment to be had (like this between-inning contest in which the contestants had to play dodgeball after running a dizzy bat race):


Those in the crowded berm area didn’t seem to be paying too much attention to the game anyway, lounging on blankets while the kids played in the truly hallucinogenic inflatables:




Coolray really is a beautiful park. I was as smitten as a kitten in a mitten sitting with Donner and Blitzen on Thanksgiving.

And when sentences like that pour out of me unprovoked, I know it’s time to call it a night. After playing a little post-game “Launch-A-Ball”, of course:


Time to get a little sleep before hopping into the rented Mercedes with Texas plates and driving to Greenville.

See you there!



  1. possum187

    Great piece, Ben. Looks like the Knucksie alone is worth the drive down from Charlotte. One thing’s wrong with this entry though: the title doesn’t rhyme. The emphasis is on the last syllable in Gwinnett. “To Annette in Gwinnett,” now that rhymes. 🙂 I’d give you “funnier” with my rhyme, but new born son got me about 2 hrs of sleep last night. He’s also why I hope I can make the trip down there to see the junior version of my favorite team. Keep up the good work sir, and come to the Carolinas!

  2. scottchensley@yahoo.com

    Not to be the spelling and punctuation police but it’s “Niekro” instead of Neikro.

    Cool to see you going to the parks that I frequent. Gwinnett is another one of those parks where during the week, they only open an hour prior to the game. I guess someone crunched the numbers but I just can’t fathom why teams are doing this now. The experience for fans and the added time to buy souvenirs and concessions should be incentive enough for teams to open the gates another thirty minutes to an hour earlier.

    Did you get to meet their radio broadcaster? It’s former professional wrestling broadcaster Tony Schiavone who spent almost 20 years working with Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, WCW, and WWF.

  3. atjohns@gmail.com

    Gwinnett is the only stadium I’ve ever been to that runs a stock ticker on the scoreboard between innings.

  4. txag08

    Did you get to see Brandon Hicks play? I think he’s playing for the Braves’ Triple-A team. He’s a fellow Aggie. 🙂

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