We leave Norfolk on Thursday after the afternoon game at Harbor Park and make our way across the nothing-happening part of Virginia down I-95 into Durham, North Carolina. After dropping the players and coaches off at the hotel, we head to Durham Bulls Athletic Park to unload the equipment. The Bulls and Charlotte Knights are still playing when we pull up. I take my equipment to the front office and am greeted by this by the lady behind the desk: “Ya’ll gonna lose tomorrow.”
Welcome to Durham.
The story is true, but don’t get the wrong idea. The lady at the front desk is nice, I knew here from last year. And she turned out to be correct as the Bulls, doing what they always seem to do, come back in the later innings to win game one on Friday.
When I arrived in the International League last season, I was told by many that Durham has arrogance unmatched in the league. One can see why. They seem to win every year. And each of the last four years under manager Charlie Montoyo, the have made it to the Governors’ Cup Championship series. Also, there was this movie made about the team…
But I really find the “arrogance” label to be wrong. They have a wonderful ballpark; they have big enthusiastic crowds and have always been nice to me. Additionally, they bring in the most beautiful women to the games in the entire league. I mean, wow!
Durham Bulls Athletic Park was opened in 1995. It is only two years younger than Harbor Park in Norfolk, but it seems 20 years younger. It seems like a brand new ballpark. It is part of what has become a pretty cool part of downtown Durham. And for those of you who have spent a lot of time in North Carolina as I have, you know that “cool’ and “Durham” have never been seen in the same sentence much. But this time it is well deserved.
The Bulls are playing well again this year. Seemingly another drive toward the top of the league. So excuse the Bulls if they seem snooty. It is a product of a deep Tampa Bay organization. And it really is unfair. Durham is truly one of my favorite stops in the IL.