Introduction

Introduction

I have never heard a man laying on his death bed with seconds to live mumbling how he just didn't spend enough time in the office. What's wrong with us Dad's? Why do we keep telling ourselves that this year is going to be different? This year I will lose 20 pounds. This year I will read my Bible cover to cover. This year I will be a better father! Well, this year I will be a better father.


When you close your eyes and vision that perfect childhood memory, what do you see? For me, it was the smell of Wrigley Field (for better or worse). It was the sound of the organ, the roar of the crowd, and the electric energy that follows the game that I loved best...Baseball! I wanted those same memories for my kids. We live just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina which puts us right in the middle of some of the best minor league baseball in the country. I figure I have a good 12 years left with my kids in the house and time is flying by. I cancelled a few meetings and took them to our local ballpark.


I have 3 kids ages 6, 12, & 14. They are great kids and I love every minute that I get to spend with them. I want to start creating a legacy of memories that continue for many generations. Baseball will live long past me and will continue to provide those memories in my absence. The purpose of this blog is to not only document the moments I get to spend with my kids, but analyze every minor league ballpark in the United States. My kids will be doing the analysis as well as many of the blog posts. What ballparks are family friendly? What parks give your family the most for their money? What do the players have to say about their team and the park they play in? Who has the coolest uniforms? Right from the mouth (or fingers) of babes. That's 240 teams in 12 years, an average of 20 games per year. We might not reach our goal...but man is it going to be fun trying!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Winston-Salem Dash

Winston-Salem Dash


   Let me tell you, hands down one of the best parks we have been to so far.  Nestled in the western corner of Wintson-Salem you will find BB&T Ballpark, home of the Dash.  If you are brave enough to endure the traffic, then you are in for a treat.  Parking was pretty easy.  The kids gave it an 8 on the Family Friendly Scale (FFS). They had plenty of staff and for $5 we parked within short walking distance to the field.  I would recommend parking in the lot directly east of the field.  It is easy in and out and provides a great view of the ballpark as you walk down to it.  As we looked around on the "voyage" to the park, we did not notice an out of the park environment.  It almost looked like the town turned it's back on the park.  It's a great view of it's backside, but it needs to turn around and make an experience out of going to the park!  We gave the Out of Park Experience a 5 FFS.
   Take a few minutes so the kids can roll down the huge hill as you walk to the main gates.  It is better if you arrive about 45 minutes early to enjoy the entire experience.  If you did not bring your climbing equipment, then make your way down the sidewalk to the left field entrance.  We decided to go for the $15 field box tickets sitting on the 3rd base side of the field.  (Tickets are $1 off if you buy them in advance)  The ticket prices scored a 6 on the Family Friendly Scale.  I had all the boys with me so we needed some room to run if the 6 year old got a little antsy.  According to my youngest, "Section 119 rocks!" It gives you a perfect view of the field and it is right next to what I call the "Hill of Madness!"  Imagine 100 kids jammed onto a small green hill each with their own agenda...one of those being not watching the game.  The good thing about this spot is it is directly behind the visiting team's bullpen.  My 6 year old just hung out at the wall and tried to look as cute as possible.  He was working those little puppy eyes in the hopes of a quick ball tossed to him...it worked.  Below is a picture of BB&T Ballpark.  If you click on the link it will take you directly to the site map on MiLB.  The boys easily gave the seating an FFS of an 8.
 BB&T Seating Chart
   The first thing we do the moment we walk into a park is find the team store.  There is nothing better than a good fitted hat.  I like a nice round billed cap.  A big head and a flat bill should never be combined.  For this purchased I opted for their non-traditional cap of the dash logo with an American flag backdrop (shown below).  I was a bit surprised at the high price of $45, but it is a pretty cool hat.  It was a pricey team store compared to others I have been to.  The building sat by its ugly self in the left field corner looking nothing like any other building in the park. I don't know if they were renovating, but man that was one ugly store.  The kids quickly scored the team store as a 4 on the FFS.
   The Dash logo is really cool and goes well with the purple, white, and gray uniforms.  The kids gave them a score of 9 on the FFS.
   If your kids are like mine the first question asked immediately after you sit down and start to relax is, "What's for dinner?"  Don't worry about saving your seat, you probably won't have to fight someone over it when you get back.  I am not saying that the ballpark was not crowded, but the Dash suffer the same epidemic that many minor league ballparks suffer from...lack of community support.  Make your way to the concession stands directly behind the field box seats.  There are a lot of choices, but the one that got the biggest WOW was the combo that came inside of a large Dash batting helmet.  I must admit that I was pretty taken back by this one.  I had not seen this before at a park.  Inside the hat came a burger, fries, and a drink for $12 (I think that price is correct).  Either way, that's a pretty good value.  The food was decent in a cafeteria kind of rating system, but the hat fit my 6 year old perfect.   On the dessert side I would consider myself an ice-cream traditionalist.  I have never been a big fan of dippin dots, but to my kids put it in a logo helmet and it becomes caviar.  The kids gave the food experience an 8 on the FFS.
    Every park has a hype man.  It is his or her job to get the crowd into the action, keep things interesting, and provide some good comic entertainment for those people that are not so into the game.  This guy was good.  He kept us entertained and was corny in a way that didn't make him sound like a goober.  On the FFS we gave him an 8.
   The bathroom facilities were good, but nothing that made us say it was a must see.  It is a get in get out scenario.  They scored a 7 on the FFS.
   Now to the game!  The Dash are a Class A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.  As a long time Cubs fan, liking this ballpark and team made it pretty difficult for me.  I was able to get over my South Side bias long enough to let the experience sink in.  My oldest summed it up best when he said, "This is a great baseball team watching park."  What he means is there is just enough to do out here and still be able to focus on America's favorite pastime.  You are not distracted by all the smoke and mirrors that parks do in order to attract a fan base.  The Dash were playing the Carolina Mudcats, another Class A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves that play close to where we live in Raleigh.  It was a great game.  In the end, the Mudcats were victorious with a score of 7 to 1.
   We got up from our seats in the 8th inning and decided to walk around the perimeter of the field.  The first picture above is the view from deep center.  What you don't see is my 6 year old looking the other direction.  The Dash have a nice merry-go-round in center field that provides distracted fathers at least one inning of peace to watch the game.  It is actually a very nice feature that I have not seen before at ballparks.  I like it when teams try to go outside the box to provide services to their customers.  For all of the ballpark bling, we gave the Dash a 9 on the FFS.
   In conclusion, this is a great park for the family.  The food was good and how it was served was even better.  The atmosphere was fantastic...not too flashy and not too plain.  It is a pretty park just outside the city with a picture perfect view of the Wells Fargo Center.  It is park for a person that does not want to watch baseball as well as the purest that is only there for inning 1 through 9.  The Winston-Salem Dash scored an overall 7.2 on the Family Friendly Scale!  What a great time and I would encourage anyone that loves baseball to experience this at least once.
Until next time...see you in the batter's box!

Family Friendly Score
Category Score
Parking 8
Out of Park EXP 5
Ticket Price 6
Team Store 4
Team Hat/Logo 9
Ballpark Bling 9
Seating 8
Food 8
Bathrooms 7
Hype Man 8
Total: 7.2

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