Sunday, September 15, 2013

Photo by Joel Revill.

Who would have guessed that the year we chose to document the Durham Bulls, they’d win the International League championship?

The unlikely outcome feels like some sort of variation on the observer effect: did we, with our thousands of photos and words, somehow change the Bulls’ behavior? No, of course not, says the sober voice. But in the spray of championship champagne and the clamor of winning shouts, that voice is hard to hear.

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Pitchers & Catchers: The Battery, Part Two

Friday, September 13, 2013

Photo by Kate Joyce.

Two days after the interview I published Wednesday with Durham Bulls pitcher J. D. Martin and catcher Chris Gimenez, I asked Gimenez a few more questions about handling pitchers. I wanted to hear him talk about how he works with pitchers he doesn’t know as well as he knows Martin. I started out by asking Gimenez about Bulls right-handed starter Matt Buschmann, whom Gimenez had caught earlier that night (and who starts tonight against Pawtucket).

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Durham Bulls beat Pawtucket Red Sox to even Governors’ Cup championship series

Thursday, September 12, 2013
Bulls shirt

Photo by Sara Schultz.

Yesterday afternoon I was at the ballpark for a while, and when I left for a break before last night’s game, I took the fire exit stairs from the third level, where the press box is. These stairs lead out onto the street, and there’s no access back into the ballpark. The doors on each landing are kept locked. If you take these stairs, you have to be intending to leave the building for good.

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Pitchers & Catchers: The Battery, Part One

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
little dude playing catch with players

Durham Bulls catcher Chris Gimenez, his son, and Bulls catcher Jesus Flores. Photo by Ivan Weiss.

It’s easy to assume that pitching, which is the originating force of every baseball play, is a one-way street, although perhaps not always in the same direction. Either a pitcher throws exactly the pitch his catcher calls, every time, without argument; or a pitcher shakes his catcher off repeatedly until he gets the sign for the pitch he wanted in the first place.

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Personal Histories: Pawtucket Red Sox beat Durham Bulls in game one of Governors’ Cup championship series

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
bull rear

Photo by Frank Hunter.

After last night’s game, in which Pawtucket beat Durham, 2-1, to take the first game of the Governors’ Cup championship series, strong personal histories were in both clubhouses. On the home team side was Brandon Guyer, who was hit by two pitches last night. He missed about a month in July and August when he was hit by a pitch. He was hit fourteen times this season, second most in the league.

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Let’s Play Two (More): Durham Bulls sweep Indianapolis Indians, move on to championship series

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Photo by Elizabeth Matheson.

Just a quick one here. The Bulls beat Indianapolis last night, 2-1 at Indianapolis, to sweep the Indians and advance to the Governors’ Cup championship series. They’ll play the winner of the Pawtucket-Rochester series on the other side of the bracket. The Pawsox lead that series, two games to one. Game four is tonight in Pawtucket at 6:05 p.m. Game five would also be played at Pawtucket, if necessary.

Last night’s Bulls win was another “nailbiter,” as Charlie Montoyo would say.

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Back in Time, Postscript: The Resistance of Memory

Saturday, September 7, 2013
head turn

Photo by Ivan Weiss.

The day I published my Paris Review Daily piece about the most exciting game I ever saw, two other people who were at that game in September 1984 appeared, as if summoned.

Ron Morris was the Durham Bulls beat writer for the Durham Morning Herald in the eighties, and I knew him a little back then. He was friendly with my stepfather. Three years ago, I ran into him at the old Durham Athletic Park, the scene of the crime, so to speak.

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Back in Time, Part Four: The Broadcaster

Friday, September 6, 2013

Steve Pratt and his daughter at Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs. Photo courtesy of Steve Pratt.

This is the final planned installment of a four-part series of interviews with and profiles of important figures from the early modern Durham Bulls era. (A fifth part, an addendum, will be out tomorrow.) The series is not intended to be exhaustive or definitive. It came about entirely as a result of my research into the most exciting game I ever saw, which I recount in a Paris Review Daily piece, published the day before yesterday.

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Rewrite! Durham Bulls hang on, beat Indianapolis Indians in game two of playoffs

Friday, September 6, 2013

A good writing teacher will tell students that good writing is really rewriting. Anybody can throw some words on a page. The discipline and craft starts when you revisit those words and improve them, shape them. If you leave what you first did untouched, you usually end up with something that isn’t very compelling.

The first four Durham Bulls to come to the plate last night had hits off of Indianapolis starter Graham Godfrey. Before he had recorded an out, the score was 3-0, Bulls, and Vince Belnome was standing on second base with a fly-ball double off the Blue Monster, the Bulls’ third double of the game in four at-bats.

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Back in Time, Part Three: The Player

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chip Childress’s $2 Pops Baucom bill. Photo courtesy of Chip Childress.

As the season draws to a close, and the run of days slows and grows autumnal, now seems like a good moment to look back at some early settlers of what we now take for granted as Bulls country. This is part three of a four-part series of interviews and profiles. (Here are parts one and two.) It’s also an unforeseen expansion of my Paris Review Daily piece, out yesterday, about the most exciting game I ever saw, which took place at the old Durham Athletic Park on September 4, 1984.

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