Watching Ball, Shoeless Joe, and the Georgia Peach

Fluor Field (Greenville Drive) – April 14th, 2010

There are times when you travel heavily for work that things just kind of work out in your favor!  I was still with Sears in 2010, and one of the perks of the job I was in was hitting a variety of National meetings over the years.  As luck would have it, I was scheduled for a meeting in South Carolina the week of Opening Day, but unlike the last year, they delayed the meeting by one extra day, so I was able to watch Randy Johnson throw out the 1st pitch at the Seattle Mariners opener.  The one day delay also gave me hope that I’d be able to see a game in Greenville, and potentially hop down to Atlanta too.

This year’s meeting had a lot better flow than last year, so hope was alive that I’d be able to steal some time to see a game.  We’d had dinner at the ‘exclusive’ Commerce Club (Greenville’s only ‘high rise’).  I looked out the windows and pretty much all I could see were cemeteries.  It was the same thing when I drove through Georgia later that week, it seemed like they were everywhere I drove by.  But not just headstones, more of the full casket markers.  That, and I was amazed by the number of flowers.  Maybe it’s the South mentality – A respect for the dead, or a hesitancy to move on?  Religion?  An interesting conversation point for another day. 

Fluor Field was a quick mile walk from the Commerce Club.  Greenville has a beautiful River Walk and a ton of trendy restaurants.  The waterfall in the middle of downtown is gorgeous.  (It’s so much nicer than San Antonio’s equally manufactured, but less authentic looking, River Walk.) 

Before I left home, the ‘girls’ were waiting for me on the counter.  Flat Megan, Flat Maddy, and Flat Momma wanted to come along for the ride.  I took pictures of them in the airport and in my hotel room, but I was happy they finally got to go somewhere interesting!  I took pictures of us at the waterfall and at the field. 


For any MILB team, Fluor Field would be fantastic.  But for a Single-A team?!  Unbelievable.

The Greenville Drive are an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.  The field dimensions match Fenway Park, and around the park are a number of Red Sox-centric signs and areas.  They play ‘Sweet Caroline’ in the 8th and the Dropkick Murphys after the game, but it really doesn’t translate to a half-full crow (or in this case, less).  It was a perfect and clear night in the 70’s.  The brick that surrounded the park looked clean and crisp as the sun set.  The Drive beat the Rome Braves.

I’d been able to arrange to stay a day after the meetings for a drive to Atlanta.  I’d taken a taxi to the airport the day before to grab a rental car, and as soon as the meeting was over, I was out of there.  Fast!  I hit a Chick Fil-A on the way out of town the same way I’d hit a Steak N Shake the day before.  (We didn’t have Chick Fil-A in Washington yet, so I try to hit some of the chains we don’t have at home for a quick snack when I’m on the road.)  Both were alright, but nothing amazing.

I stopped in Royston, GA on the way through to see the Ty Cobb Museum.  Royston is a sad town that has obviously suffered with the economy.  It felt like half the town was closed.  I was surprise when I got to the museum to see that it was part of a Doctor’s Clinic-style office building, matching the Cobb Memorial Hospital across the street.  Cobb had contributed a lot to the town.

IMG_0937.JPGThe museum itself was a collection of oddities, with a number of pictures focusing on what Cobb had done for the community.  Ty Cobb’s dentures were proudly displayed next to a signed baseball, which oddly enough, was not signed by Ty Cobb.  I was happy I’d made a point to stop there, because there isn’t another reason to stop in Royston, Georgia.

Turner Field – April 16th, 2010

I got into Atlanta early enough for the game, but not a whole lot else.  I look forward to going back to Atlanta someday to see Martin Luther King Jr’s birthplace and museum, along with the Coca Cola plant.  For this trip though, it was straight to the park.

I scored a $42 ticket for $28 outside the park.  Through a struggling economy, I’m making a point to not buy tickets ahead of time in hopes of finding a deal.  Mixed with my $12 to park, I came out ahead $2!

Turner Field is a good place to watch a game.  Before the game there’s a ton of fanfare behind the screen in CF.  They had a big kid’s zone, which I always notice now that I’m a parent.  There was a drum band and a cheer squad.  Cool.

I had ribs from the BBQ Shack that were pretty good for ballpark fare, even the one I accidently covered in Tabasco. 


Chipper Jones hit a home run.  They have a giant Chick Fil-A cow above LF by the Coke bottle that does the chop during rallies, which cracked me up.  I went up what were undoubtedly the longest ramps in the universe to the upper deck.  The view of the city from the giant red Coke bottle benches was nice. 

Quite the sponsor…

I ran the base at “KY” Field (that was missing an “S” for “Sky”) – or rather Flat Megan and Flat Maddy ran the base.  An elephant ear covered with apples and fireworks after a Braves win were a great way to end the night.IMG_1025

I drove back towards South Carolina after the game, and ended up staying at one of the grosser motels I’ve ever stayed at, about 20 minutes outside of Atlanta.  I slept in my clothes and didn’t take a shower the next morning (which was about 5 hrs later).  I figured I would be cleaner that way.  Let that be a lesson:  Motels under $25 on Priceline are not a bargain.

My flight from Greenville to Atlanta wasn’t scheduled until after noon the next day, which gave me time to stop at the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville, across from Fluor Field.  It was a beautiful morning.  The gates to the park were open, so I stepped in to catch another look.  The sun was shining on what seemed like everything, including the museum.IMG_1036

I was greeted the minute I stepped into the Museum by a kind woman with white hair.  She introduced me to the opening exhibits, then guided me to the next room.  I was a little put off at first, but was making a point of being polite.  (I was nervous that I’d be late for the flight, and it was already past 10am.)  But as each display passed, I could sense the passion she had for the museum.

Arlene (I introduced myself first) had started the museum.  She introduced me to her husband, Bill, who let me hold an old style ball handle bat, as well as a Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig signed ball.  All I could think was “The ball has to be fake, right?!  Why am I holding it?!”  I complimented Arlene on the museum and I could see she appreciated it. It was like the Ty Cobb Museum in a lot of ways.  The pictures, the oddity here and there, and the sense of community.  In a way, this museum, like the Cobb museum, was part of what made the town significant.  It was part of their identity.  Joe Jackson belongs to Greenville the same way that Ty Cobb belonged to Royston.

The experience would have been worth missing my flight for.  (I didn’t.)  It was a good trip, and a nice surprise before a trip that I had grown to call “Unfinished Business 2010”.

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