When you go to as lot of minor league games, it’s not uncommon for the buzz in the crowd to be about someone on the visiting team. this was the case today, as Bryce Harper, the most heralded prospect in the minor leagues played for the Hagerstown Suns. We arrived 15 minutes before the gates opened, and were in line behind 40 autograph dealers, lining up to get their shot at Bryce.
Sad for them, but my seats were front row, right next to the Hagerstown dugouts, and the ushers did a great job of making them move away from actual seat-holders. We were surrounded by these dealers until game-time, and then they disappeared. More about his later, or on a facebook post – but it’s really disgusting what these guys do.
On to the park… Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium ( or, “The Cannon”) is the home of the Kannapolis Intimidators of the South Atlantic League. When the park was built in 1995, they imported
the former Spartanburg Phillies and became the Piedmont Boll Weevils. the thought at the time was to play upon the rich textile heritage of the region. The main entrance is reminiscent of a textile mill, to play against that heritage.
However, the rebranding of the team as the Intimidators pays homage to Dale “The Intimidator” Earnhardt. So now the park walks a line between NASCAR and textiles, and it sometimes feels a little disjointed.
The park itself is nicely set. Our seats along the dugout were extremely close to the action, and literally sat at field level. It’s a great view, but it can be difficult to always track the ball from that height, and an errant throw to 1st can add a level of excitement to a routine grounder. not a great seat for kids… I’d move back a bit next time for better game watching.
The luxury boxes are built into the “mill” building, and sit back a good ways from the action, but it’s a small park, so I don’t imagine that’s much of a detractor for those who might need a party suite. There’s a picnic pavilion down the left field line that allows them to do some catering, and provides one of the few shady spots in the ballpark. There is no escape from the sun if you want to watch the game, however. There ought to be an awning sponsor somewhere who wants to create a shady zone. In late May, it was 92 degreees, and a woman in our section got dehydrated and nearly passed out going up the steps.
Concessions were unremarkable. There’s a very nice fresh-squeezed lemonade stand down the RF line, as well as a stand for a local vendor, Whatswaterice.com. The main concession stands stick to the basics – hamburgers, hotdogs, pretzels, beer. Soda was plastic bottles only, no souvenir cups of overpriced fountain sugar.
There were 2 desserts that were unique. the first was called Apple Ugly. This is basically an apple fritter, based on some local varieties. The 2nd was a Cheerwine cake. Cheerwine is a local cherry soda (that’s a cousin to the local Mountain Dew known as Sun Drop.
Here in early Summer, I’d recommend sitting on the home 3B side, to keep the sun out of your eyes in the early evening. Front row seats were $9, so bargains abound, and they’re not a huge draw, so walkup tickets are no problem.
It’s good pure low-minors ball, and a nice way to watch a game. Check it out on your next NC baseball trip.