Friday, July 3, 2015

Snorting Bull Baseball Tour Day 2: Burlington Royals vs Kingsport Mets

It was a rainy fifty minute drive west on I-40 to Burlington, North Carolina to check out a Rookie League game between the Burlington Royals and the Kingsport Mets.  I have lived in North Carolina for almost ten years, and been within an hour or less driving distance of this ballpark, but have just never been to game here.

Burlington Athletic Park is small park.  It's about 20 years newer than the Durham Athletic Park, but there are many things about the two parks that seem pretty similar.  Small dugouts, shape and layout of the grandstand, and the proximity of the fans to the field.  Tickets are readily available and the best seats in the stadium cost less than $10.

One of my initial surprises was access to the players.  They were literally just walking around the stadium with the fans.  Pretty awesome to see......

These two Mets players were really involved with a phone call while I was waiting to get into the stadium and did not move once the gates opened.  Other players sat next to the fence and talked with fans, signed autographs, and even bought food from the concession stand.

I am not sure where the Royals clubhouse is in the stadium, but we can see above that the players walk through the concourse to get out onto the field.  A very unique feel to the stadium, but cool to see the players up close.

The stadium is painted royal blue and there are former Burlington Royals players hanging up on the outside structure of Burlington Athletic Park.  There is even a 2014 American League Champions banner on the top of stadium.

Now, here's my only gripe with the Burlington Athletic Park.  It's hosted a Royals team for the past 8 seasons, but before that it was a minor league site for the Cleveland Indians for about twenty years.  During that time the team had Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, CC Sabathia, and Bartolo Colon all roll through town.  How are they recognized?

With their jerseys hanging above urinals in a bathroom.  Not very classy....... More on this later this week.  

Inside the stadium fans have a great view of the field and the action.  

There is a large amount of foul territory around the field, so you are not right on top of the batter, but the extra room created several cool foul pop chases during the game.  You don't see those at every park.  Here's a look at the stands from the side.  Note: more players hanging out talking to fans....

Now, onto the game.  The best prospect on either side was Royals Ashe Russell, the Royals number 1 draft pick last month, but he was not pitching.  I watched Brandon Dulin, first baseman, for the Royals along with Mets first baseman Patrick Mazeika.  Mazeika hit a home run in the first inning to give the Mets and early lead, but Dulin hit a two run blast in the eighth to give the Royals the win.  Here's the box score.

A little more on Dulin.  He's actually from the Kansas City area and is a pretty nice hitter.  He's already put up 5 home runs this season and has only been playing in Burlington for the past two weeks.  Could be a promotion soon.  Here's a look at one of his at-bats.....

I also watched Colton Frabasilio.  You do not see too many players from Saint Louis University in the minors, but their baseball program has come a long way the last few years.  

Overall, if you are looking for an inexpensive game where we can get close to the players this is a good stop.  I am not sure I would go out of my way to go to another Burlington Royals game, but maybe if the right player made an appearance there it would be a cool place to go and watch them play. 


  1. A great little Appy League park. One of my favorite parks to do a little graphing. Easy access to the players as they walk in and out of the stadium!

    1. I am not a huge in-person autographer, but I might have to make a return trip to get the Cardinals first round pick who is playing for Johnson City.