The world is made for those not cursed with self-awareness. — Annie Savoy, Bull Durham
I arrived early on Friday to Huntington Park, home of the Columbus Clippers, for Party at the Park. The Clippers, like all minor league franchises, understand that baseball alone won’t pull fans through the gate. Promotions are vital, even if mind-numbing to baseball purists. But I have to admit that this promotion was spot on. Party at the Park meant that the local barbeque chain City BBQ — no Allen & Son of Chapel Hill, but no slouch, either — was serving up two-dollar pulled pork sandwiches.
Weaving through the crowds at a Bulls game in June, I find that as I near the concessions, the number of tangerine T-shirts in view is rapidly rising. A quick glance at the cartoonish magnifying glass and “Summer Science Sleuths”printed across their fronts, and I can’t help but think that someone must have just lost a lot of kids.
It turns out Chris Adamczyk, program director of the Summer Science Sleuths camp and Executive Director of the Duke Center for Science Education, knew exactly what she was doing when she brought sixty curious young scientists to the Bulls game.
Sorry to make it about the weather, but my desk is pretty near a water cooler, so small talk is always a possibility.
Clouds suppressed yesterday’s temperature into the late afternoon, and then they drifted off to cool some other realms. They left behind a shockingly mild evening, almost chilly, with a gentle dry breeze. It’s July in North Carolina. It felt like April here, or like July in Vermont. Christmas in July in Vermont.
For some, marriage comes down to a point system. The more points you accumulate, the more get-out-of-jail-free cards you can acquire and the more you can avoid the confines of the doghouse. Point gaining and losing depends on the dynamics of the union, the spoken and unspoken rules of the people involved. It should be understood that the allotting and taking away of points is very much like some of the particulars of taking out a sub prime loan.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” George Santayana warned us. The better known version goes, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it,” but that is a corruption of what Santayana actually wrote. “Cannot remember” is not the same as “ignore.” One is a (forgivable) failure of recall, work unfulfilled; the other is a willful disregard, a resistance to the truth.
“Not really about baseball”: we’ve adhered pretty well so far to this watchword of our Bull City Summer documentary project, but cultivating indifference has been hard for me. I really care about baseball, and I watch the games closely. Still, I’ve made a season-long effort to notice the surroundings in a rather moony way—trying to soak up the ambient energy in the ballpark, its sheer quality and quantity.
Two Durham Bulls had their cars broken into on Saturday night. Valuables were stolen. The players gave statements to a policeman who was in the clubhouse after the game, which Pawtucket won 9-6. The night before that, the Pawsox won 9-7. The games were virtual carbon copies: the Bulls fell behind, way behind, and then came back only to fall a bit short in the end.
The vandalized cars were parked in the players’ lot, which is right across the street from the ballpark, under the Durham Freeway.
Bull City Summer’s subtitle, “a season at the ballpark and beyond,” got a very strict redrawing of its documentary boundary last night. Try thirty seasons, and exactly at the ballpark.
The news from last night’s game had nothing really to do with the outcome, which was in favor of Pawtucket, 4-3. Instead, the seventh-inning stretch stretched longer than usual in order to accommodate an exceptional moment. Onto the field stepped Jim Goodmon, the kingpin of the Capitol Broadcasting Corporation/Durham Bulls/American Tobacco empire; the Mayor of Durham, Bill Bell; some city council members and Bulls officials; and Wool E.
Tonight’s Bulls-Pawtucket Red Sox game will feature “walk-up” music for Bulls batters curated by the path-breaking, independent record label Merge Records, which is based just a few blocks from the stadium. Each Bulls batter will walk to the plate accompanied by a fourteen-second clip from tunes recorded by bands on Merge’s adventurous roster. It’s a fitting partnership. The Durham Bulls Athletic Park opened in 1997; Merge moved their offices from Carrboro to Durham in 2000. Both were way ahead of the curves of downtown development.