Wednesday was one of those endless-seeming travel days that only a plane ride can provide. Nothing like waking up in brutally hot New York City and making it to even more brutally-hot Charleston, SC by lunchtime.
I didn’t have much time to explore this by-all-accounts beautiful city before heading to the ballpark, but I would like to note that the first shot of this road trip was fired at Fort Sumter!
But jokes pandering to history nerds didn’t get me to where I am today. Minor League Baseball did! After my brief cameo at this Civil War landmark I hightailed it over to “The Joe” aka Joseph P. Riley Ballpark aka “The home of the Charleston RiverDogs.”
Exterior ballpark shots were neglected in favor of my latest series of player interviews, which can be viewed HERE (my personal highlight was being able to ask RiverDogs’ closer Mark Montgomery about his recent five strikeout inning). Once those were complete, I had time to soak in the scene.
And during one of my brief forays into the RiverDogs’ clubhouse, I met legendary clubhouse manager “Rally Vinnie.”
As Vinnie attended to his (seemingly endless) clubhouse duties, the players warmed up on the field.
The starting pitcher for the visiting Lexington Legends was 2010 first-round draft pick Mike Foltynewicz, who I chatted with this past offseason. He had more important things to do on Wednesday, however. Like get loose.
During my pre-game wanderings and press box socializing, I was introduced to inimitable PA man Ken Carrington. Ken is unique (so far as I know) in that he does both PA and on-field host duties while “on-location” throughout the stadium. For my article on Ken (and the RiverDogs experience in general), check out today’s piece on MiLB.com. Please.
Here’s Ken doing his thing on the field pre-game.
And here he is enthusiastically belting out “Mony Mony.” I’m sure there was a reason for this.
Some pre-game views, less than 10 minutes before the start of the contest (none other than Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner threw out the first pitch, but my photo of his ceremonial offering left much to be desired.)
The RiverDogs are one of four teams presided over by the Goldklang Group, which includes both Mike Veeck (son of legendary baseball owner and promoter Bill) and legendary comedic actor Bill Murray on its executive roster. The Goldklang Group’s most recent slogan is “Be Your Own Fan,” and this free-thinking phrase definitely applies to the food.
Goldklang Group director of food and beverage John Schumacher is based in Charleston, and he and RiverDogs food and beverage man Josh Gilkey have put together an amazing array of choices (click HERE for the full menu).
At “Joe’s Bar and Grill” (named after mayor and stadium namesake Joseph P. Riley), one can get the Pimento Burger as well as the “Pickle Dog.”
At the exceedingly popular “Dog World,” fans can choose from seven signature hot dogs, or simply build their own. Business has been especially good since Adam Richman from “Man vs. Food” took on the 1/2 pound “Homewrecker” during his visit to Charleston.
A visit from “Ben’s Biz Blog” is of significantly lesser impact, but nonetheless Schumacher and Gilkey gave me a tour of their operation before laying out a ballpark feast.
An appetizer course of boiled peanuts (a southern specialty) and local Palmetto beer.
Followed by THIS (sorry for the poor photo, even my camera was intimidated):
Close up of the kitchen-sink:
Oh, and because that wasn’t enough: A Philly Cheesesteak Brat:
I did the best I could.
Schumacher and Gilkey:
I had to depart from the feast prematurely, however, in order to dress up as what I had just consumed.
It was time for Mission: Throw T-Shirts from the Back of a Truck:
The mission was successful.
But I have digressed, perhaps irrevocably so. Before concluding this road trip missive, a few more shots of the ballpark. Note here how quickly the fence juts out, from 305 feet to 345.
One of the best sunset views I’ve seen in the Minors: the swamps behind the ballpark, taken from the second level just outside the press box.
And, yes, the sun has set on this particular post. There is much more to come from the Carolinas. Too much, in fact, but I’ll do the best I can with it.